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As Secretary of State Visits Jakarta, Rights Group Urges U.S. Policy on Indonesia Promoting Justice and Rights, Not Military Might

For Immediate Release

Contact: John M. Miller (718) 596-7668; (917) 690-4391 (cell)
Karen Orenstein (202) 544-6911

March 13 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) today urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support an Indonesia policy that genuinely promotes justice, peace and human rights.

"A forward-looking policy toward Indonesia would make clear that democracy requires more than fair elections. Secretary Rice should change her stance on Indonesia’s security forces to make genuine accountability and real reform prerequisites for military assistance," said Karen Orenstein, National Coordinator of ETAN.

"The Bush administration’s proposal for a greater than six-fold increase in military aid to Indonesia for 2007 reveals the State Department’s so-called ‘carefully calibrated’ approach toward aiding the Indonesian military to be nothing more than hollow rhetoric,” said Orenstein. “This unwarranted gift will only set back reform."

Secretary Rice shakes hands with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, March 14, 2006. © AP/WWP  

"By recklessly waiving restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia late last year, Secretary Rice abandoned the best available leverage to press for genuine reform," continued Orenstein. "If Secretary Rice is unwilling to withdraw the waiver, she should describe clear criteria to be met before the U.S. provides any foreign military financing and lethal equipment. Otherwise, the corrupt Indonesian military will correctly perceive any U.S. assistance as an endorsement of business-as-usual."

"Such benchmarks should include Indonesia's acceptance of the UN Commission of Experts recommendation that it cooperate with international efforts to prosecute senior figures for massive human rights violations in East Timor. A pledge to broadly circulate and discuss the findings of the report of the East Timor Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation should be another marker," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "Such a call would have added credibility if the U.S. government made a similar commitment."

"West Papua has been long-neglected by the international community. Secretary Rice should use her visit to highlight ongoing human rights violations and question the military build-up there. She should press Jakarta to heed calls from West Papua for demilitarization and a fair share of the income from its resources, and demand that Indonesia fully open West Papua to the outside world," said Orenstein.

“Secretary Rice should additionally investigate and take responsibility for the alleged poor rights record of Detachment 88, the anti-terrorism police unit created and funded by the U.S. government,” stated Orenstein.

Last November, the Department of State issued a waiver removing all remaining congressional restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia. Congress had imposed various restrictions on military assistance for Indonesia since 1992.

The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation called on countries to make military assistance to Indonesia "totally conditional on progress towards full democratisation, the subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian government, and strict adherence with international human rights..."

ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975 to 1999 and for continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces. For additional background, see


see also

Human Rights First: Secretary Rice Should Raise Human Rights in Talks with Indonesian President

U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page

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