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also Calls to reject Indonesia ambassador to U.S.

Groups Urge Obama Administration to Reject Dino Patti Djalal as Indonesia's Ambassador

Contact: John M. Miller (ETAN) 718-596-7668
Ed McWilliams (WPAT) 401-568-5845 (until Sept. 21), 575-648-2078 (after)

September 15, 2010 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) are deeply concerned about the appointment of Dino Patti Djalal as the Indonesia's Ambassador-designate to the United States. We urge President Obama to reject his credentials and urge Jakarta to send an Ambassador untainted by complicity with human rights violations and with greater credibility.

Dino Patti Djalal Ambassador Djalal was a defender of the Suharto dictatorship, and his career involved him in brutal repression. While defending the Indonesian security forces in East Timor (now independent Timor-Leste), he would often attack human rights investigators and organizations. He sought to portray the violence there as civil conflict among East Timorese, rather than resulting from repression of resistance to Indonesia's illegal and brutal occupation.

The Suharto dictatorship and the Habibie government that followed promoted Djalal as Indonesia's leading "expert" on East Timor. During that time, Djalal reportedly had close links with the Indonesian army's intelligence agency.

In 1999, during and after East Timor's historic UN-organized vote on independence, Djalal was based in East Timor as the spokesperson for the Satgas P3TT (the Indonesian "Task Force for Popular Consultation in East Timor").  In that capacity he took the lead in the Task Force's political initiatives.

As Task Force spokesman, Djalal quickly emerged as its leading political heavyweight, taking the lead in leveling false accusations against UNAMET (UN Assistance Mission for East Timor). In his official capacity Djalal also served as flack for the militias created and directed by the Indonesian military to terrorize the East Timorese population in the run-up to August 1999 vote. Those militias and their Indonesian security force allies repeatedly attacked East Timorese civilians, burning villages and assaulting churches in attempt to frighten the population into voting against independence. The militias also sought to intimidate the UN teams sent to prepare for the vote and the international media and humanitarian organizations in the country to monitor the process.

As international alarm over the excesses of the militias and their Indonesian military sponsors grew, Djalal played a key role in seeking to deflect criticism of the militias and the military.

Djalal denied the reality that militias were arming in the run-up to the vote and sought  to obscure militia and military atrocities against civilians in East Timor. He was a dogged critic of international journalists and human right organizations who sought to report these atrocities.

In the wake of East Timor's overwhelming vote for independence, the Indonesian security forces and their militias rampaged throughout country exacting revenge for the people's rejection of Jakarta's rule. The militia and military attacks destroyed vital infrastructure and buildings. They targeted UN facilities and personnel, as well as international journalists, diplomats and other observers. Djalal was key in Jakarta's unsuccessful efforts to deny the  reality of the which cost the lives of approximately 1,500 East Timorese, displaced two-thirds of its population, and destroyed 75 percent of East Timor's infrastructure.

Dino Patti Djalal In diplomatic assignments in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada, Djalal focused on defending the role of the unreformed and abusive Indonesian military, including targeting of its foreign critics. More recently he has served as Presidential spokesperson.

Ambassador Djalal's past as an apologist for the worst behavior of the Indonesian military and its minions augers poorly for international efforts, especially in the United States, to press for  justice and accountability for past human rights crimes and genuine reform of Indonesia's security forces. As the situation in West Papua becomes increasingly tense, will Djalal serve as Indonesia's Washington-based apologist for continued repression?

In the interest of promoting strengthened U.S.-Indonesian relations based on respect for human rights, ETAN and WPAT believe that the U.S. government should not accept Djalal's credentials as Indonesia's Ambassador to the United States.

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Radio Australia

Asia Pacific Home | Asia Pacific Business

Calls to reject Indonesia ambassador to US

Updated September 23, 2010 21:17:43

Human rights advocacy groups for East Timor are calling on the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to reject the appointment of Indonesia's ambassador-designate to Washington. The East Timor and Indonesia Advocacy Group and the West Papua Advocacy Team say Dino Patti Djalal played a key role in defending violence against the East Timorese by Indonesian militia and security forces around the 1999 referendum on independence and they want the United States to bring him to justice.

Presenter: Helene Hofman

Speakers: David Merrill, president, United States Indonesia Society (USINDO); John Miller, national coordinator, East Timor Indonesia Action Network; Professor David Cohen, director, War Crimes Studies Centre, University of California, Berkley; Kit Bond, US senator for Missouri

MERRILL: Dino is the perfect choice for Indonesia to send to Washington. He understands the American mindset, which benefits Indonesian interests and makes it easier for our countries to find areas of common ground. Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome Ambassador Dino Djalal [...]

HOFMAN: He has a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science, has written five books, including a bestseller and, until recently, was president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's spokesman.

It's not surprising then that the president of the United States Indonesia Society, David Merrill, was so keen to welcome Dino Patti Djalal as Indonesia's latest ambassador to the United States with a special gala dinner.

But after all the praise of his work as a diplomat, academic and activist, there was one issue that no one mentioned.

John Miller is the national coordinator of the East Timor Indonesia Action Network.

MILLER: He was the spokesperson for the Indonesian taskforce for the referendum in East Timor in 1999 and he consistently tried to portray any violence as between the East Timorese when it was violence perpetuated by the militia, by the Indonesian security forces.

HOFMAN: About 1,500 East Timorese died in the lead up to East Timor's vote on independence from Indonesia in August 1999.

Two years ago, a report by the Commission of Truth and Friendship concluded that Indonesian soldiers, police and civilian officers were involved.

And among those who had denied it - say the East Timor Indonesia Action Network and the West Papua Advocacy Team - was Dino Djalal.

Based on that, they want the US president, Barack Obama, to reject his appointment as Indonesia's ambassador to Washington.

But Professor David Cohen, director of the War Crimes Studies Centre at the University of California, Berkley, says that's not enough to justify removing him from the post.

COHEN: The issue for me would be whether or not, when Djalal was in East Timor, he was directly linked to the criminal activities of the militia and Indonesian security forces there. But if the charges against him are simply that he denied the Indonesian military was involved in the violence then one would probably have to reject every other member of the Indonesian foreign ministry from that period.

HOFMAN TO COHEN: Do any international governments, say Australia, for example, have a responsibility to weigh in on this and raise their own concerns about his appointment?

COHEN: Well, the Australian government has a great deal of information in its possession about who was involved in the 1999 violence and in what capacity and they would be well placed to determine whether or not Djalal appears anywhere in their documentation and if so, what his role was.

HOFMAN: Dino Djalal declined Radio Australia's request for an interview.

However, Kit Bond, US Senator for the state of Missouri, who first met with ambassador Djalal on an official visit to Indonesia, was quick to back his appointment.

BOND: We believe that certainly there were some really bad problems in the past, but under president Yudhoyono's enlightened leadership, I believe these things are going to be in the past and we'll work very hard to make sure they understand how important it is to make sure they don't continue to occur.





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