|Subject: AP: U.S. Resumption of Indonesia
Associated Press February 28, 2005
U.S. Resumption of Indonesia Ties Decryed
By SLOBODAN LEKIC
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Human rights groups on Monday condemned a decision by the United States to resume limited ties with the Indonesian military, which is accused of committing widespread abuses in the country and its former province, East Timor.
``The (move) is a setback for justice, human rights and democratic reform,'' said John Miller, spokesman for the New York-based East Timor Action Network. ``The Indonesian military's many victims throughout the country and East Timor will recognize this policy shift as a betrayal of their quests for justice and accountability.''
On Saturday, the State Department announced that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice determined that Jakarta had cooperated with the FBI's investigation into the murders of two American schoolteachers during an ambush in Indonesia's Papua province.
Congress had set this as a condition on Indonesia's participation in a U.S. military training program, which is generally viewed as a first step in lifting a ban on military-to-military ties between the two countries.
``This shows the United States places its strategic interests ahead of human rights concerns,'' said Hendardi, a prominent human rights lawyer in Jakarta. ``I don't understand what they mean when they say Indonesia has made progress on human rights issues, because that's not what's happening here.''
The armed forces of the two nations cooperated closely in the 1970s and 80s, during the military-backed regime of former Indonesian dictator Suharto. But Washington imposed a ban on military ties with Indonesia in 1999, after its troops devastated its former province of East Timor following a U.N.-organized independence referendum.
Congress later passed legislation making the reestablishment of contacts contingent on Jakarta's cooperation in bringing to justice those responsible for the Papua killings.
An initial police report on the ambush blamed army troops, but the subsequent FBI probe led to the indictment by a U.S. grand jury of an Indonesian citizen, Anthonius Wamang, the suspected triggerman in the attack.
Wamang, who pro-independence activists maintain is a military informer, remains at large.
``Given this lack of progress (in the investigation), the State Department's certification of cooperation is false and misleading,'' said Miller. ``It has far more to do with fulfilling the administration's long-term goal of re-engagement with the Indonesian military, than bringing to justice all those responsible for the ambush or encouraging democratic reforms.''
In the past two months, the two countries' militaries have worked closely together in relief efforts in the tsunami ravaged Aceh province, prompting Bush administration officials to renew calls for restoring ties with the world's most populous Muslim nation.
The administration says it needs the cooperation of the Indonesian armed forces in its global war on terrorism. It also insists military ties would strengthen Indonesia's fledging democracy.
But analysts say it is also seeking to counterbalance China's growing economic and strategic clout in Southeast Asia by resurrecting the close relationship with the Indonesian military.
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