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see also: Groups Urge Bush Not to Offer Military Assistance to Indonesian President

PO BOX 21873
BROOKLYN, NY 11202-1873

November 18, 2006

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As organizations concerned with human rights and justice in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, we are writing in anticipation of your November 20 visit to Indonesia. While Indonesia has made some advances in overcoming decades of dictatorship, restrictions on U.S. assistance to the Indonesian military are essential to promote concrete, demonstrable progress in the areas of military reform, accountability, and respect for human rights in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. We therefore respectfully urge you to refrain from promising any military assistance to Indonesia’s armed forces.

We are deeply troubled by ongoing human rights violations by Indonesia’s security forces, especially in Papua; its continued resistance to civilian control and oversight, lack of budget transparency, and persistent emphasis on internal security; and its widespread impunity for crimes against humanity and other serious violations committed against the peoples of Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Last June, Human Rights Watch concluded that until the Indonesian military is barred from pursuing its own business interests, civilian control over its activities will be limited and human rights will suffer. We urge you to emphasize these issues in your discussions with President Yudhoyono.

We remain deeply concerned about the lack of progress in bringing to justice all those responsible for the now two-year-old assassination of Munir, Indonesia’s foremost human rights defender. President Yudhoyono called resolving this crime a "test case for whether Indonesia has changed." After reversal of the only murder conviction to date in October, no one has been held accountable for this crime. We urge you to press him to ensure that the investigation leads to credible criminal proceedings against the masterminds and perpetrators.

Indonesian and international media have exposed military involvement in a range of illegal activities, including gun running. The Indonesian military at best tolerates and, more ominously, continues to back militias, whose principle role is to intimidate civilians, particularly ethnic and religious minorities. The Indonesian military has successfully resisted civilian efforts to end the "territorial command" system, through which the military operates a shadow government, exerting influence over civil administration and politics, commerce, and justice right down to the village level.

The State Department’s most recent human rights report documents the Indonesian military’s ongoing human rights violations, illegal business dealings, and impunity. Indonesia’s human rights courts have proven incapable of bringing Indonesian military and police perpetrators of serious human rights violations to justice, including those involved in the Tanjung Priok massacre, Abepura (Papua) violence, and many other cases. Jakarta’s ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor acquitted all but one defendant (an East Timorese civilian). No senior officials have been convicted for the widespread crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Timor-Leste from 1975-1999. The bilateral Commission on Truth and Friendship (CTF) is not a satisfactory response to these events. It enshrines impunity for human rights violations rather than encourage justice. We urge you to refrain from offering any U.S. backing to the CTF under its current mandate.

In its final report, Timor-Leste's official Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) called on governments 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.”

By heeding the CAVR’s and similar calls from within Indonesia to withhold or condition military assistance to Indonesia, the U.S. can promote democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights. East Timorese and Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly called for restrictions on military engagement to be maintained. We urge you to maintain the best leverage the U.S. has - withholding prestigious U.S. military assistance, including foreign military financing and training such as IMET and JCET - to demonstrate that the U.S. government’s commitment to these issues goes deeper than words to actual action.

Past restrictions on assistance to the Indonesian military provided vital leverage to bolster Indonesian reform efforts. This reform remains in its early stages. A year ago, your administration waived remaining congressional restrictions on military assistance. In its Memorandum of Justification, the State Department wrote “The U.S. remains committed to pressing for accountability for past human rights violations, and U.S. assistance will continue to be guided by Indonesia's progress on democratic reform and accountability.” Given a lack of benchmarks, these words will continue to ring hollow as long as your administration continues to provide additional military assistance.

We thank you for your serious consideration.

Sincerely,

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)  
Amnesty International USA Massachusetts Peace Action
The Borneo Project
Jessica Lawrence, Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby (Washington, DC)
Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director
Carolina Peace Resource Center Olympia (WA) Movement for Justice and Peace (OMJP)
California Peace Action
Jon Rainwater, Executive Director
Pax Christi USA
David A. Robinson, Executive Director
Cenacle Sisters of North America, Leadership Team Pax Christi New Orleans
Concerned Citizens for Peace
Hemlock, NY
Pax Christi Metro New York
Rosemarie Pace, Director
Dictator Watch Peace Action
Kevin Martin, Executive Director
EarthRights International
Emily S. Goldman, Campaigns Coordinator
Peace Action Maine
East Timor Religious Outreach
Rev. John Chamberlin, National Coordinator
Peace Action Wisconsin
Educating for Justice
James W. Keady ,Co-Director and Councilman, City of Asbury Park, NJ
Leslie E. Kretzu, Co-Director
Peace Resource Center of San Diego
Carol Jahnkow, Executive Director
El Dorado Peace and Justice Community (Diamond Springs, CA)
Diana Stauffer, Director
Peaceworkers
David Hartsough, Executive Director
Genocide Watch
Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, President
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
Paul George, Director
Global Exchange
Kirsten Moller, Executive Director
Philippine Workers Support Committee
John Witeck
Health Alliance International Press for Change
Jeffrey Ballinger, Executive Director
Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice
Chuck Warpehoski, Director
Sacramento Area Peace Action
International Campaign to End Genocide
Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, Coordinator
School of the Americas Watch
International League for Human Rights The Social Justice Committee, Unitarian Universalist Church (Canandaigua, NY )
Elaine Donovan and Marybeth Gamba, Co-Chairs
Jeannette Rankin Peace Center (Missoula, MT)
Betsy Mulligan-Dague, Executive Director
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC).
Sister Dianna Ortiz, OSU, Executive Director
Jews Against Genocide
Sharon Silber & Eileen B. Weiss, Co-Founders
United for Peace and Justice
Leslie Cagan, Co-chair
Leadership Conference of Women Religious Unitarian Universalist Peace Fellowship
Rev. Dennis M. Davidson MD PhD, President
Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern or LEPOCO Peace Center U.S. Campaign for Burma
Maluku America Ecumenica Church
Mary Whittlinger, Treasurer
Veterans for Peace
David Cline, President
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Marie Dennis, Director
War Resisters League West
  West Papua Advocacy Team
  Wheaton Franciscans, Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Office
Sr. Sheila Kinsey, OS F, Coordinator
  Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section
Mary Day Kent, Executive Director
  World Policy Institute, Arms Trade Resource Center
William Hartung, Senior Fellow
 

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