Subject: NYT letters - ETAN & others on Wolfowitz

New York Times

Indonesian Case: Injustice, and Irony (3 Letters)

Published: September 18, 2004

To the Editor:

Paul Wolfowitz's concern for press freedom in Indonesia may be genuine, but if he and the administration he represents were genuinely concerned about the rule of law there, they would not be seeking to arm and train an Indonesian military that continues to commit gross human rights violations with impunity.

Accountability for past violations remains elusive. For example, an appeals court recently overturned the few convictions of Indonesian military and police officials charged with crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.

Indonesia refuses to cooperate with the United Nations-backed court in East Timor, which has indicted a number of senior Indonesian officials.

The terror tactics and blatant disregard for the rule of law of Indonesia's security forces are by no means a thing of the past.

Recent initiatives by the administration to further engage the Indonesian military will only undermine the rule of law and discourage reform.

John M. Miller
Outreach Coordinator
East Timor Action Network
Brooklyn, Sept. 16, 2004


To the Editor:

In "The First Draft of Freedom" (Op-Ed, Sept. 16), Paul Wolfowitz writes: "There are few powers that a democratic state possesses that are as awesome as the power to prosecute its own citizens lawfully. And few things are more threatening to a true democracy than the abuse of that prosecutorial power."

It is amazing that Paul Wolfowitz, a neocon star in the Bush government, does not see the irony in his statement.

Our government has been indefinitely holding American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants.

Mr. Wolfowitz is right to be concerned about the acts of injustice in Indonesia, but it is disturbing that he is not speaking out against the same injustices the Bush administration perpetrates at home.

Jeri Waldman
White Plains, Sept. 16, 2004

To the Editor:

It's good to see Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz plumping for press freedom as he criticizes Indonesia's detention and prosecution of Bambang Harymurti, a newsmagazine editor.

Mr. Wolfowitz writes that the "real test of a democracy is how it protects the rights of its citizens." He connects Indonesia's success at this test to the global fight against terrorism.

But Mr. Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials have yet to show similar zeal in vindicating the rights of the reporters and photographers who have been killed in Iraq when the United States military apparently failed to consider their likely presence.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and a number of human rights organizations have repeatedly asked the Pentagon to investigate these abuses. Regrettably, no substantive response has been forthcoming.

Franz Allina Bronx, Sept. 16, 2004

The writer is a lawyer and a board member, Committee to Protect Journalists.

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