Subject: AP: Rights group blasts plans for expanded U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia

Rights group blasts plans for expanded U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia

02/27/2006 11:55:36 PM EST AP WorldStream English (all)

Rights group blasts plans for expanded U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia_The United States will undermine efforts to reform Indonesia's armed forces if it sharply increases military sales to the world's most populous Muslim nation next year, rights activists said Tuesday.

"Arming the military is not the way to promote democracy and human rights in Indonesia," said Karen Orenstein, National Coordinator of New York-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN).

"Congress should zero out the Bush administration's unwarranted gift to Indonesia's unreformed military."

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush allocated nearly US$1 million dollars for military sales to Indonesia in 2006, and has asked Congress for a six-fold expansion of the program next year.

Washington, which sees Indonesia as a close ally in the war on terror, last year lifted a six-year military embargo that was imposed on the Southeast Asian giant because of alleged rights abuses.

"Impunity for serious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, still reins supreme in Indonesia," ETAN said, adding that unrestricted military sales will signal an end to efforts to reform the armed forces.

More than 100,000 East Timorese were killed, abducted, starved or died of illnesses under Indonesia's occupation from 1975-1999, according to a truth commission report submitted to the United Nations last month.


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