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East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11201-1873

September 6, 2007

U.S. Embassy
Jl. Merdeka Selatan 4-5
Jakarta 10110

Dear Ambassador Hume,

We congratulate you on your assumption of the duties of U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia. Your assignment comes at an important time in the U.S.-Indonesia relationship and in Indonesia's quest to build a democratic society which respects human rights.

We believe that it is crucial that U.S. policy support human rights and accountability in Indonesia and East Timor. Therefore, we write to express strong concern regarding comments attributed to you in the August 4 edition of the Jakarta Post. If you were misquoted, we would appreciate clarification. If not, we believe those comments misperceive and misrepresent the matter of justice for atrocities committed by the Indonesian military and its militias in East Timor in 1999. In the article, you are quoted as saying that "Accountability for such cases in the past [referring to the 1999 carnage in East Timor] is something of great interest to us, but it's essentially your responsibility as Indonesians." You go on to argue that "What's important for us is there's some resolution accepted by the two countries immediately concerned."

Respectfully, we believe it is wrong to regard this matter as a bilateral one, as implied by your comment. The UN Security Council has described the actions of the Indonesian military and its militias as crimes against humanity and the international community warranting an international response. The UN-backed serious crimes process in East Timor indicted Indonesian officials and others for crimes against humanity.

The actions of the Indonesian military and the militias it organized and sponsored were crimes perpetrated against the international community. These actions were aimed at undermining a UN mission (UNAMET). In addition to the killing of more than 1400 East Timorese, Indonesian military forces and their militias attacked UN personnel and facilities, killing and injuring East Timorese and other staff working for the UN. A Dutch journalist, Sander Thones, working for the Financial Times, was also among those murdered in the mayhem unleashed by the Indonesian military.

U.S. government statements before the Security Council have long supported continued UN involvement in the search for justice for the crimes of 1999. It is unrealistic verging on cynical to delegate to the still fragile government in Dili responsibility for demanding justice from its much more powerful neighbor for these crimes carried out against it and the international community. Similarly, to simply assign the search for justice to Indonesia ignores the record of impunity enjoyed by the Indonesian military before the bar of Indonesian justice. As we are sure you are well aware, all senior Indonesian officials have so far escaped justice for their role in the 1999 crimes.

We are also deeply concerned by your August 4 comments which indicate that the U.S. government is disengaging from the active pursuit of justice regarding 1999. Specifically, whereas the UN has boycotted the work of the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) because that body allows amnesty for serious crimes, you note that the U.S. Government is "not in the same position with regard to that." ETAN, along with human rights groups in Indonesia and East Timor long ago concluded, along with East Timor's truth commission (CAVR) and the UN's Commission of Experts, that the CTF is not a credible process and nothing it has done to date has shaken that conclusion.

We strongly believe until the Indonesian military is held accountable for its past crimes, whether in East Timor or Indonesia, it will remain a threat to Indonesia's continued democratic progress and reform.


John M. Miller
National Coordinator
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network

Cc: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill
Members of Congress

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