|Subject: Letters by ETANers
Restrictions on aid protect Indonesians
The Sun is right to urge the United States not to resume military assistance to Indonesia ("War and aid in Aceh," editorial, Jan. 19).
The Indonesian military has failed to meet sensible conditions placed on cooperation by the U.S. Congress. These included justice and accountability for past human rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere, and an end to its backing of fundamentalists and other militia, such as those that have recently arrived in disaster-stricken Aceh.
However, long-time observers might question The Sun's assertion that "U.S. training would serve as a civilizing influence on the Indonesian army."
Senior Indonesian officials have repeatedly made clear that they are not interested in human rights training.
More telling is the fact that the military's worst abuses took place when the United States was fully engaged. During that period, President Suharto, Indonesia's dictator, brutally seized power, Indonesia invaded East Timor and martial law was first imposed on Aceh.
These actions and others took the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Since restrictions on aid were put in place, some progress has been made. For example, East Timor is now independent after a U.N.-conducted referendum in 1999.
John M. Miller
The writer is media and outreach coordinator for the East Timor Action Network.
Indonesian military 'thuggish'
The tsunami that struck Indonesia should not be an excuse used to sweep away restrictions on our assisting its brutal military. You reported that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz toured the devastation of Banda Aceh, Indonesia (Briefly, Jan. 16).
Wolfowitz, a primary planner of the Iraq war, said he will bring a recommendation about future assistance to Indonesia when he returns.
Restrictions on U.S. military ties to the Indonesian military were first put in place because of that military's actions in East Timor. Since then, Indonesia has made a mockery of international calls for justice for past human rights violations.
Meanwhile, abuses by Indonesia's military continue in Aceh, adding near-insufferable pain to that faced by families from the natural disaster.
Congress must reject any administration request to provide weapons and training to Indonesia, until its military genuinely changes its thuggish ways.
MAX WHITE Country specialist for Indonesia and Timor Leste Amnesty International USA Southwest Portland
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