etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer

U.S. Groups Oppose U.S. Military Assistance to Indonesia,

Tell Secretary of State that Military Remains “Unreformed” Rights Violator

Contact: John M. Miller 718-596-7668, 917-690-4391

September 15, 2004 -- More than 70 representatives of U.S. organizations wrote to Secretary of State Colin Powell today opposing Bush administration plans to expand military assistance to the Indonesian military (TNI).

The groups are deeply concerned by reported administration plans to release military training funds under the IMET program this month and to request funds for weapons under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program for 2006. The organizations said that Indonesia has yet to fully meet past and current Congressional conditions restricting Indonesia's access to the programs.

In a letter sent today to the Secretary of State, the groups called the Indonesian military "an unreformed violator of human rights…on a daunting scale" " in Aceh, Papua and elsewhere.

"Moving forward with FMF and IMET would break faith with those struggling for democratic reform in Indonesia. It would additionally weaken the hand of the civilian government vis-à-vis an Indonesian military whose reputation would only be burnished by increased U.S. engagement," the letter added.

As evidence of continued military impunity, the letter highlighted the recent appeals court ruling which overturned the few convictions of Indonesian military and police officers charged with crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.

The letter was sent just days before Indonesia votes for president in a run-off election on Monday, September 20, and at a time when the State Department appears to intend to move forward with plans to release IMET funds for Indonesia.

A copy of the letter, coordinated by the East Timor Action Network (ETAN), appears below. A complete list of signatures is available at

In addition to ETAN, signers include representatives of the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society; Human Rights Watch/Asia; Institute on Religion and Public Policy; Peace Action; Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church; Center for International Policy; Center for Human Rights, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial; Global Exchange; NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; Pax Christi USA; Common Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ; U.S. Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; World Organization for Human Rights USA; and West Papua Action Network.


PO Box 15744, Washington, DC 20003

15 September 2004

Secretary of State Colin Powell
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20500
VIA Facsimile: 202-261-8577

Dear Secretary Powell:

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned over reported plans by the Department of State to furnish foreign military financing (FMF) for Indonesia in the Administration's FY06 budget request. We strongly oppose any consideration of FMF for Indonesia at this juncture. We equally oppose the potential release of International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds for Indonesia in FY04.

Opposition to FMF for Indonesia, broadly shared in Congress, is based on the Indonesian military's (TNI) continuing record of human rights abuses and impunity. Your own department's annual human rights reports to Congress, as well as reporting by international NGOs, reveal the TNI as an unreformed violator of human rights. Reflecting this broad consensus among observers of the TNI, Congress has restricted FMF for Indonesia since FY 2000, conditioning its provision on accountability and justice for the military’s gross human rights violations. However, military impunity remains solidly ingrained as a consequence of the TNI’s undemocratic power, as well as the weakness and corruption of Indonesia’s courts and prosecutorial system.

In August, an appeals court in Indonesia overturned the convictions of four Indonesian military and police officers charged with crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999. Commendably, the State Department noted that it was “profoundly disappointed with the performance and record of the Indonesian ad hoc tribunal," the special institution that was created in the wake of the murder of more than 1,400 East Timorese by Indonesian security forces and their hireling militias. Only two of the 18 defendants brought before the tribunal have been convicted and had their sentences upheld under appeal. Both are East Timorese. A similar Indonesian tribunal formed to ensure military accountability for the 1984 massacre of Muslim protesters at Tanjung Priok in Jakarta also recently failed to deliver justice.

Emboldened by assurance of its impunity, the Indonesian military continues to violate human rights on a daunting scale. Notwithstanding an end to martial law in Aceh, TNI operations continue to exact a bloody toll at the same pace set during martial law. Human rights and humanitarian organizations, journalists and others continue to face insurmountable barriers to gaining access to and functioning in Aceh. Following the TNI’s self-proclaimed "exoneration" after the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent indictment for the murder and serious wounding of U.S. citizens in Timika in August 2002, human rights and humanitarian organizations in West Papua report increased intimidation by the TNI and its militias.

Congress has also conditioned FMF for Indonesia on transparency in the military's budget. The TNI remains a massively corrupt institution. In the report accompanying the Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations for FY03, the Appropriations Committee stated that they were “…concerned about the Indonesian military's continued involvement in illegal business practices and other activities, including prostitution, contraband smuggling, and illegal logging which threatens Indonesia's unique ecosystems.”

Regardless of the outcome of the September 20 presidential election run-off, it is very unlikely that, in the short term, any civilian government can reverse the trend of an increasingly powerful military. President Megawati has consistently demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to control the TNI. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was a career soldier, a Suharto-era general who served as a commander in East Timor in the 1980s. There is near unanimous agreement inside Indonesia and out that military reform is dead. The military bill now before parliament is likely to even further solidify its dominance in Indonesia.

Indonesian advocates for democracy, human rights and military reform have publicly urged that the U.S. not reward the TNI with assistance and improved ties absent demonstrable progress toward genuine reform and justice for rights violations. Risking - and in some instances experiencing - acts of revenge by the Indonesian military, they have repeatedly described restrictions on U.S.-Indonesia military cooperation, including the ban on FMF and restriction of IMET, as critical leverage in their efforts. Moving forward with FMF and IMET would break faith with those struggling for democratic reform in Indonesia. It would additionally weaken the hand of the civilian government vis-à-vis an Indonesian military whose reputation would only be burnished by increased U.S. engagement.

Provision of FMF for Indonesia in FY06 would exacerbate ongoing violations and corruption by rewarding such behavior. It is imprudent and unjustified. Provision of IMET in FY04 is also entirely unwarranted.

We thank you for your serious consideration of this most important matter and look forward to your response.


Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator
East Timor Action Network

Glenn Morris, Leadership Council Representative
American Indian Movement of Colorado

Gary Percesepe, Ph.D., Coordinating Director
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (Charlotte, NC)

Robert Doolittle, Chairman
Boston Catholic Taskforce for East Timor (Boston, MA)

Todd Howland, Director
Center for Human Rights, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial (Washington, DC)

Adam Isacson, Director of Programs
Center for International Policy (Washington, DC)

Rick Jahnkow, Program Coordinator
Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (San Diego, CA)

Olivia Masih White and David Vargas, Co-Executives
Common Global Ministries (of the United Church of Christ
and the Disciples of Christ)

Stan De Boe, OSST, Director, Office of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men (Washington, DC)

Roland Watson
Dictator Watch

Rev. John Chamberlin, National Coordinator
East Timor Religious Outreach (Castro Valley, CA)

James W. Keady and Leslie E. Kretzu, Co-Directors
Educating for Justice, Inc. (Asbury Park, NJ)

Jackie Lynn, Executive Director
Episcopal Peace Fellowship (Chicago, IL)

Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id (Clayton) Ramey
Disarmament Program, Fellowship of Reconciliation (Nyack, NY)

Emira Woods and John Gershman, Co-Directors
Foreign Policy In Focus (Washington, DC)

Joe Volk, Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Washington, DC)

Medea Benjamin, Co-founder
Global Exchange (San Francisco, CA)

Alan Muller, Executive Director
Green Delaware (Port Penn, DE)

Tony Affigne (RI) and Julia Willebrand (NY), IC Co-Chairs
Green Party of the United States, International Committee

Patricia Davis, President
Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA (Washington, DC)

Bob Henschen
Houston Nonviolent Action/WRL

Bill Ramsey, Coordinator
Human Rights Action Service (St. Louis, MO)

Veena Siddharth, Advocacy Director
Human Rights Watch/Asia (Washington, DC)

Robert Pedersen, Trade and Labor Coordinator
Indiana Alliance for Democracy (Zionsville, IN)

John Oei, Founder
Indonesian, Chinese and American Network (San Francisco, CA)

Joseph K. Grieboski, President
Institute on Religion and Public Policy (Washington, DC)

Chuck Warpehoski, Director
Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (Ann Arbor, MI)

Suraiya IT, Chair
International Forum for Aceh (Elmhurst, NY)

Bama Athreya, Deputy Director
International Labor Rights Fund (Washington, DC)

Aviva Imhof, Director, Southeast Asia Program
International Rivers Network (Berkeley, CA)

Sharon Silber & Eileen Weiss, Co-founders
Jews Against Genocide (New York, NY)

Marie Lucey, OSF, Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious (Silver Spring, MD)

Glen Gersmehl, National Coordinator
Lutheran Peace Fellowship (Seattle, WA)

Rev. Joseph P. La Mar, M.M., Corporate Social Responsibility
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers (Maryknoll, NY)

Marie Dennis, Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (Washington, DC)

Bradford Lyttle
Midwest Pacifist Center (Chicago,IL)


Maureen Fenlon, OP, National Coordinator
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby (Washington, DC)

Sarah C. Aird, Executive Director
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) (Washington, DC)

Diana Bohn, Co-Coordinator
Nicaragua Center for Community Action (San Francisco, CA)

Katherine Hoyt, National Co-Coordinator
Nicaragua Network (Washington, DC)

Bill Towe, Coordinator
North Carolina Peace Action (Raleigh, NC)

Mary Anne Mercer, Co-chair
Northwest International Health Action Coalition (NIHAC) (Seattle, WA)

Yaney LA MacIver, Program Director
Oregon PeaceWorks (Salem, OR)

William H. Slavick, Coordinator
Pax Christi Maine

Rosemarie Pace, Coordinator
Pax Christi Metro New York

David Robinson, Executive Director
Pax Christi USA (Elmhurst, PA)

Kevin Martin, Executive Director
Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund (Silver Spring, MD)

Peace Action Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI)

Ivan Suvanjieff, President
PeaceJam Foundation (Arvada, CO)

Jacqueline Haessly, Ph. D.
Peacemaking Associates and Milwaukee Peace Education Resource Center

David Hartsough, Executive Director,
Peaceworkers (San Francisco, CA)

Paul George, Director
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center (Palo Alto, CA)

John Witeck, Coordinator
Philippine Workers Support Committee (Honolulu, HI)

Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory, Director
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office

Jeffrey Ballinger, Executive Director
Press for Change

Tom Ricker, Policy Coordinator
Quixote Center/Quest for Peace (Hyattsville, MD)

Staff Collective
School of the Americas Watch (Washington, DC)

Tim Dewane, Director, Office of Global Justice & Peace
School Sisters of Notre Dame (Elm Grove, WI)

Lilianne Fan
Solidarity for Aceh (New York, NY)

Stacie Trescott, Founder/Administrator
The Green House (Ferndale, MI)

Sister Dianna Ortiz, Executive Director
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC)

Mark Harrison, Director, Peace with Justice Program
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

David Wildman, Executive Secretary, Human Rights and Racial Justice, Mission Contexts & Relationships
United Methodist Church, General Board of Global Ministries (New York, NY)

Richard Falk, Visiting Professor
University of California, Santa Barbara

Mike Amitay, Executive Director
Washington Kurdish Institute (Washington, DC)

Ji Hyang, Advisor
Wellesley (MA) Buddhist Community

S. Eben Kirksey
West Papua Action Network (Santa Cruz, CA)

Mary Beaudoin, Director
Women Against Military Madness (Minneapolis, MN)

Sandy Silver, President, U.S. Section.
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, United States Section (Philadelphia, PA)

Morton Sklar, Executive Director
World Organization for Human Rights USA
(formerly World Organization Against Torture USA) (Washington, DC)

Frida Berrigan, Senior Research Associate
World Policy Institute (New York, NY)


see ETAN's U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page



ETAN Cause on Facebook
ETAN Group on Facebook

ETAN Blog ETAN's Blog

ETAN listservs

Subscribe to ETAN's e-mail Listservs




make a pledge via credit card here

Bookmark and Share

Background | Take Action | News | Links | What You Can Do | Resources  | Contact

ETAN Store | Estafeta | ImagesHome | Timor Postings | Search | Site Index |