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
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
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
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.
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
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
Asia Pacific Home
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
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
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
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.