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East Timor & Indonesia ACTION Network ALERT

Protest Bush’s Unlimited Military "Aid" to Indonesia


In a surprising and appalling move, the State Department waived all restrictions on U.S. military assistance for Indonesia last November, only two days after the restrictions became law. For the first time in over a decade, the Indonesian military is now eligible to receive Pentagon weapons and training without any specific human rights or other conditions.

In early November, ETAN and its allies won a clear victory in Congress. Senators and Representatives voted to maintain a ban on foreign military financing and the export of lethal weapons to Indonesia despite unprecedented pressure from the State Department and Pentagon. Congress sent a strong message to Indonesia's government and security forces that it expected real improvements in military reform, human rights protections, and accountability for crimes against humanity and other serious crimes. The State Department, exploiting a national security waiver, undermined that message in every respect and undermined congressional intent.

U.S. support for an above-the-law, unreformed military is not in the national interest of the United States, Indonesia, or Timor-Leste (East Timor).

We must vigorously protest the Bush administration's deceptive action. Here are actions YOU can take:

1. Call Secretary Rice today. Tell her:

  • you are appalled that the State Department recklessly waived newly-legislated restrictions on military assistance for Indonesia.
  • U.S. support for an unaccountable, unreformed military is not in the best interest of the United States or any other country. Rather, it undermines democracy and human rights protections and is an affront to Congress.
  • she should retract the national security waiver.

Call the State Department at 202-647-6575 to leave a message for Secretary Rice or send a message via

2. If you can make a second call, phone Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill with the same message. He can be reached at 202-647-9596.

3. Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper, often the most widely-read section. See below for a few sample letters to adapt as your own. Email John M. Miller at or call 718-596-7668 if you'd like some help with your letter.

4. Meet with your Representative and Senators. In-person meetings are the most effective way to get your message across to your elected leaders. For help in setting up and preparing for meetings, feel free to contact Karen Orenstein at 202- 544-6911 or

We cannot let the Bush administration get away with this! Please call Secretary Rice and Assistant Secretary Hill today. And please let us know the results of your efforts at Your actions make a world of difference. Thank you!

For more background, see

Sample Letters

Sample Letter #1

Unrestricted military assistance for Indonesia betrays the hundreds of thousands of victims of that military's brutality in Indonesia and East Timor. Such aid only encourages Indonesia's unreformed military to remain beyond the law. This is not in the interest of the people of the United States or Indonesia.

Indonesia's democratic reforms have occurred in spite of its military. Secretary of State Rice and President Bush, by waiving congressional restrictions on weapons sales, have undermined U.S. efforts to encourage further reform. With the stroke of a pen, the administration gave away its leverage to press for accountability for crimes against humanity in East Timor and elsewhere and has shown that its declared commitment to human rights protections in Indonesia is shallow.

Congress must vigorously protest Secretary Rice's abuse of discretion. The public and the media should pay close attention to the impact of any engagement with this terribly abusive military.

Sample Letter #2

The Bush administration recently waived all restrictions on military assistance to Indonesia just as the report of East Timor’s truth commission was being readied for release. The report describes the devastating impact of Indonesia’s invasion and occupation of East Timor. Immediately prior to the 1975 invasion, President Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave then-dictator Suharto the green light to attack East Timor with U.S.-supplied weapons. Many tens of thousands of civilians died as a direct result.

No senior military or political official has been held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed under Jakarta’s rule. The Bush administration has not learned from past policy. Under the guise of national security, Secretary of State Rice's November decision overriding Congress only two days after it enacted military restrictions to allow unrestricted U.S. assistance to the Indonesian military for the first time in over a decade was unwise and will sanction this cycle of impunity.

Secretary Rice should retract the wavier and back an international tribunal on East Timor. Genuine justice and human rights protections are in the national interest. Propping up Indonesia’s unreformed and unaccountable military is not.





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