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January 18, 2005

Admiral Thomas Fargo Commander, US Pacific Command
PO Box 64031
Camp HM Smith, HI 98681-4031

Sent via fax: 808-477-6247

Dear Admiral Fargo,

In light of the prominent role of the U.S. military in tsunami relief efforts in Aceh, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my serious concerns about the U.S.-Indonesia military relationship. As you know, many of my colleagues and I firmly believe that now is not the time to advance efforts toward normalizing military relations. I am greatly concerned with reports that some in the Pentagon are using this disaster as an opportunity to lobby for IMET. The human rights record of the TNI has not improved and promised reforms have not been enacted.

The TNI's refusal to implement a ceasefire in Aceh is utterly unfathomable given the scale of the catastrophe. Human rights abuses concurrently continue in West Papua, where the TNI has sealed off access to sections of the Central Highlands and is mounting a violent offensive that has caused internal displacement of thousands of civilians.

Troubling reports have described military abuse of humanitarian aid in Aceh, including obstruction of relief efforts by Indonesian organizations, denial of assistance to the Acehnese based on real or perceived political orientation, and the sale of food and other aid. Indonesian authorities are increasingly restricting the movement of international aid workers and interfering with their relief efforts.

Particularly disturbing is the Indonesian military's sponsorship in Aceh of jihadist militia, such as the Islamic Defenders Front and Laskar Mujahidin. This bears the hallmark of the classic Indonesian military strategy, used to deadly effect in East Timor in 1999, of sponsoring indigenous militias to promote civil conflict. These actions directly contradict U.S. counter-terrorism policy.

I seek your assurance that U.S. military forces in Indonesia are operating according to the letter and spirit of military restrictions legislated in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, and that all U.S. military assistance is directed exclusively toward humanitarian relief. The Defense Department must be entirely transparent in all current and future efforts to seek and spend funds for this relief effort, with no attempt to expand assistance outside the narrowest definition of humanitarian aid. Military training should not be provided. You should also be aware that any equipment or training provided to the TNI, including C-130s, will likely be turned against Acehnese civilians within a matter of months, if not sooner, especially as international attention fades.

I ask that you communicate to Indonesian authorities at the highest level and in no uncertain terms that the TNI must not engage in offensive military actions and must fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law. You and other members of the U.S. military should clearly convey these and the other aforementioned concerns about abuse of humanitarian assistance to the Indonesian authorities.



Member of Congress

Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL) is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

ETAN: Tsunami Must Not Sweep Away Restrictions on Indonesian Military

see also: U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy- Dear Colleague Letter on Aceh

Indonesia Alert: Aceh's Dual Disasters: The Tsunami and Military Rule by John Roosa

Baltimore Sun: Aceh - From crisis, opportunity by Joe Nevins

Aceh Working Group Concern over TNI Monopoly on Aid




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