Subject: CONG: Senate letter on Indonesia, Timor

October 27, 2000

The Honorable Madeleine K. Albright Secretary of State U.S. Department of State Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Albright:

We are writing to express our deep concern over the escalation of Indonesian military (TNI) and police violence in Aceh, West Papua (Irian Jaya), and West Timor. According to credible human rights reports, human rights violations by Indonesian security forces and militia have increased markedly over the past two months. Although we applaud the Administration's decision to refrain from re-engagement with the Indonesian military and strongly urge maintaining the suspension of military ties, we believe the United States should take further, more tangible steps to demonstrate to the Government of Indonesia our concern with the worsening conditions there.

The Indonesian government must take immediate and effective measures to prevent further violence and human rights abuses, hold those credibly accused of human rights violations accountable, and ensure that humanitarian needs of the local populations are not jeopardized by security force violations. Indonesia's commitment to implement these measures must be taken into account when the Administration considers disbursing the bilateral and multilateral assistance pledged to Indonesia at the recent donor's meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia on October 17 and 18.

Credible human rights organizations report that during a single violence-filled weekend in October, 30 Papuans were killed, including 11 shot by local and mobile police and military forces. Hundreds of others were arrested, some beaten and tortured, after armed forces tried to prevent the raising of the "Morning Star" independence flag. According to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which visited Indonesia in February of last year, the majority of individuals then facing charges in connection with flag-raising ceremonies in West Papua were being held for peaceful expression of their views, and as such, their detention was arbitrary and in violation of international law. We fully support the right of all individuals, including independence supporters, to express their political views peacefully without fear of arrest and reprisal and are very concerned about reports that the government of Indonesia has quietly deployed hundreds of additional troops to the province of West Papua.

We are also concerned about reports that military and paramilitary operations against civilians in Aceh are on the rise, despite a cease-fire recently extended through the "Humanitarian Pause" negotiations between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and TNI. Reports note an increase in the number of cases of harassment and intimidation against local Acehnese human rights and humanitarian workers since the brutal torture and murder in August of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a prominent human rights lawyer and founder of the International Forum for Aceh. Most international workers have fled Aceh altogether, leaving no one to witness or prevent further security forces and militia attacks. Many fear a humanitarian crisis is looming in Aceh.

We also note with concern the unresolved crisis in West Timor, where Indonesian-backed militias killed three UNHCR workers, including American Carlos Caceres, on September 6, precipitating a mass evacuation of international non-governmental organizations and leaving over 100,000 refugees without humanitarian assistance and at the mercy of known violent militias. The Indonesian government has repeatedly promised to disarm and disband these militias, but has failed to do so, most recently abandoning any deadline for militias to turn over their weapons to the government. Militia leaders and officers credibly accused of human rights violations must be held accountable for their actions.

We urge you to take tangible steps to demonstrate to the Indonesian leadership that security forces must carry out their duties in accordance with international human rights standards, and that militia must be disarmed and disbanded. Independent Indonesian and international monitors must be allowed into Aceh, West Papua, and West Timor to assess humanitarian situations and to investigate past and current alleged human rights violations. Those credibly accused of committing abuses should be arrested and tried under international standards of justice. In all cases, access to humanitarian assistance by civilians must be guaranteed. We urge the Administration to take into account Indonesia's commitment to implement these measures when it considers disbursing bilateral and multilateral assistance pledged to Indonesia at the recent donor's meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia.

Thank you for your consideration.

Robert G. Torricelli U.S. Senator
Paul D. Wellstone U.S. Senator 
Herb Kohl U.S. Senator
Richard J. Durbin U.S. Senator 
Jack Reed U.S. Senator

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