Subject: Letter: Rice's words ring hollow

Taipei Times

Letter: Rice's words ring hollow By John Miller

Tuesday, Mar 21, 2006,Page 8

During her recent visit to Indonesia, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have urged military reform ["Rice urges more Indonesian military reform," March 16, page 1], but her words ring hollow. Her recent actions will only undermine that progress.

Last year, taking advantage of a congressional loophole, Rice lifted restrictions on assistance to Indonesia's unreformed military, which remains largely beyond civilian control. Many ranking officers credibly accused of human rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere have been promoted or are prospering in semi-retirement.

East Timor's truth commission recently issued a report documenting extreme violations under Indonesia's brutal occupation, including rape, torture and tens of thousands of deaths from military action and war-induced starvation. The commission called on countries to make military assistance to Indonesia "totally conditional on progress towards full democratization, the subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian government, and strict adherence with international human rights."

It is not too late for the US to reverse course. If Rice won't impose strict restrictions on military aid, the US Congress should reinstate its own restrictions, but this time leave out the loophole.

John Miller
National Coordinator: East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, Brooklyn, New York

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