See below for some sample letters to the editor
Dear Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (U.S. State Department, Washington, DC 20520)
Dear Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, (The Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301)
Dear Secretary _________,
We are writing to express our opposition to the administration proceeding with plans to conduct joint exercise with the Indonesian military (TNI) and take other steps to re-engage with the Indonesian military.
Not one ranking TNI official has yet been prosecuted for complicity in the September 1999 scorched-earth assault on East Timor which resulted in President Clinton's suspension of military ties. The TNI continues to support militia repression of East Timorese refugees in West Timor while also facilitating the killing of civilians in West Papua, Ambon, Aceh and other areas of Indonesia. For these and other reasons we feel such training is highly inappropriate and counter-productive.
TNI participation in a the CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) military operation taking place this summer is unacceptable. CARAT is a large-scale exercise involving Navy, Marines, and other forces. Last year, Indonesian officers who trained in a CARAT program went directly on to East Timor, where they helped carry out the post-independence vote destruction of the country, including thousands of killings and the forced deportations of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
We hope you will agree that rewarding the Indonesian military with more training is entirely the wrong message to send when TNI terror campaigns against civilians and lack of accountability for past crimes are still unresolved dilemmas for that country's civil society. The U.S. should support agents of reform in Indonesia and must refrain from helping arm and train their opponents in the military.
Sample Letters to the Editor:
(These are excerpts from letters actually published in major newspapers. Feel free to paraphrase. Click here for other sample letters on East Timor)
Stop Military Ties With Indonesians
To the Editor:
The Clinton administration should not have resumed ties with the Indonesian military. Such ties reward the Indonesian military for its continuing abuse of the people of East Timor and Indonesia.
Before the Indonesian military ended its occupation of East Timor in October, it and military-backed militias forced an estimated quarter of a million East Timorese into Indonesia.
More than 100,000 refugees remain, many trapped inside camps where they are terrorized by the military and its militias and suffer from disease and malnutrition.
The military and its militias also attack and infiltrate East Timor from across the border. In addition, the Indonesian military still represses and terrorizes people in Aceh, West Papua and other parts of Indonesia.
Many Congressional members oppose the administration's resumption of military ties with Indonesia and have proposed legislation to prohibit these ties. Congress should pass it.
ELIOT HOFFMAN Forest Hills, Queens,
May 25, 2000
New York Times
Editor -- In ``Reform Is Distant Hope for Struggling Indonesia'' (July 5), Mark Abel calls ``ensuring that the disgraced military never again muscles its way into political control'' a prominent task for Indonesia's reformers. But the Indonesian military (TNI) has not relinquished control; it continues to wage terror campaigns throughout the archipelago. In Aceh, more than 400 people have been killed and 300 schools burned in military crackdowns since February, and military units have been implicated in recent mass killings in the Maluku islands. In West Timor, TNI-backed militias continue to deny 100,000 refugees from last fall's destruction of East Timor a chance to return home safely.
Six prominent Indonesian nongovernmental organizations recently stated their opposition to any resumption of U.S.-Indonesian military ties in a letter to members of Congress, calling military assistance to the TNI ``indefensible.'' The NGOs warned that any ``positive effect the U.S. suspension (of military ties in September 1999) has had is now in danger of being squandered.'' They added, ``We ask the U.S. government to make our job easier by stopping its aid to our greatest obstacle: the Indonesian military.''
Dianne Feinstein should honor that request by co-sponsoring SB 2621, the East Timor Repatriation and Security Act of 2000, which would ban U.S. aid to the TNI until the Indonesian government provides for the security and safe return of refugees in West Timor and has brought to justice those responsible for murder, rape, torture and other crimes against humanity in East Timor and Indonesia.
Ben Terrall East Timor Action Network /San Francisco
July 12, 2000
San Fransisco Chronicle