|Subject: IHT: Letter - Indonesia and the
The International Herald Tribune
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR; Indonesia and the U.S.
Regarding "Indonesia: The Military Can Shape Up if Washington Helps" (Opinion, Aug. 20) by Stanley A. Weiss: Mr. Weiss argues that human rights concerns should take a back seat to other interests when it comes to U.S. re-engagement with the Indonesian military. But if the United States values stability in Indonesia, backing the military is the wrong way to go.
In 1999, it was the military, hiding behind the fig leaf of local militias, who destroyed East Timor after it had the presumption to vote for independence. Elements of the Indonesian military continue to back the militias as they terrorize refugees in West Timor and await a United Nations pullout from East Timor. In the Moluccas, the military has been widely reported as fueling communal conflict. In Aceh, the military murders humanitarian workers and nonviolent activists. Not surprisingly, many Acehnese feel they must back armed rebellion; likewise in West Papua/Irian Jaya. Elements of the military have been implicated in Jakarta bombings.
The U.S. Congress has clearly laid out the conditions that must be met before full military relations are restored, including prosecution of those responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor and Indonesia, return of refugees and security along East Timor's border. Restoring ties while serious concerns remain unaddressed would reward the military for only token reforms and undermine Indonesia's democracy.
The East Timorese leader Jose Ramos-Horta recently declared his opposition to the United States restoring military ties with Indonesia. "I don't think Indonesia needs weapons at the moment," he reportedly said in Canberra. Instead of talking to former defense ministers, Mr. Weiss would do well to listen to the victims of the Indonesian military.
JOHN M. MILLER
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