Subject: ETAN Letters to Christian Sci. Monitor

Commentary > Letters to the Editor from the February 17, 2005 edition

Letters In wake of tsunami, Aceh's people need better government

It would be a shame if US efforts to relieve tsunami-created suffering in Aceh lead to further suffering for its beleaguered people. This is the likely result of any reengagement with the Indonesian military ("US, Indonesia mull closer ties," Feb. 9).

Prior to the tsunami, Aceh was under martial law and human rights violations were legion. Since the natural disaster struck, the military (TNI) has continued its attacks, despite a declared cease-fire. Manipulation of aid by the TNI has been reported.

The TNI has repeatedly failed to meet conditions placed on cooperation by Congress, among them justice and accountability for human rights violations in East Timor, Aceh, and elsewhere, and an end to military backing of fundamentalist and other militias. Several of these groups are now active in disaster-stricken Aceh and boast of their ties to the TNI.

By reengaging, the US will be saying, "Never mind, we really didn't mean it." Reform efforts will certainly be set back and the TNI's corrupt, abusive ways will continue.

John M. Miller
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Media & Outreach Coordinator, East Timor Action Network

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When former US military attaché in Jakarta John Haseman argues against senior Indonesian officers being denied exposure to US military practices, I can't help thinking of the past year's revelations about Abu Ghraib and the "outsourcing" of torture that has permanently marred the standing of the US in the world.

And where is the evidence that any of the years of training Indonesian officers have received in the US have had any positive impact in their homeland? For decades, Indonesian troops have been trained by the US, but reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other reputable organizations show no decline in atrocities carried out against civilians.

Yannis Cosmadopoulos
San Francisco


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