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East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
West Papua Action Team
c/ o PO Box 21873, Brooklyn NY 11202
January 29, 2008
Ambassador Cameron R. Hume
U.S. Embassy
Jakarta, Indonesia
Via e-mail
Dear Ambassador Hume,

As U.S. organizations that care deeply about human rights, as well as the image of the United States in Indonesia and within the international community, we find your statement regarding the death of the dictator General Suharto appalling. We are deeply dismayed that your condolence statement on behalf of the U.S. government fails to even acknowledge the extraordinary crimes of this brutal and corrupt dictator. You must be aware that these crimes include the extra-judicial killing of hundreds of thousands of his own citizens, the murder of more than 100,000 civilians in East Timor, the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, and the theft of billions of dollars from his country's coffers.
On February 1 ETAN held a demonstration at the Indonesian Consulate in New York City to call for justice for Suharto's many victims.  

His legacy is a country that suffers under an unaccountable military that continues to commit egregious human rights violations and a judicial system incapable of affording justice to victims of the ruling military and corporate elite to which his regime gave birth. His legacy is a political system shorn of its best and brightest, literally, by the sword.

Finally, no U.S. statement could credibly have addressed these failings without acknowledging that it was the U.S. which made Suharto's brutal reign possible. U.S. intelligence agents provided lists of those who were killed in 1965. U.S. air-to-ground attack aircraft and other weaponry facilitated the invasion and subjugation of East Timor. U.S. weapons and training transformed the Indonesian military under Suharto into the widely-feared machine which kidnapped, tortured and killed. U.S. diplomatic action prevented effective UN action to address the Indonesian invasion of East Timor as an act of aggression. Suharto's military remains unrepentant and unaccountable. It is his military which continues to repress civilian populations in West Papua and elsewhere. And it is his military which the current U.S. administration plans to continue to train and arm.

Your failure to acknowledge the enormous harm done to the people of Indonesia and East Timor by this dictator, and your unwillingness to admit the central role the U.S. played in empowering and encouraging this tragedy, is a travesty of history. It is a shameful view of Suharto from which we feel compelled to disassociate ourselves.
John M. Miller, National Coordinator, ETAN

Ed McWilliams, West Papua Advocacy Team
Cc: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill
Members of Congress

The original statement by Amb. Hume:


January 27, 2008
Ambassador Hume Expresses U.S. Condolences
Jakarta, January 27 -- U.S. Ambassador Cameron R. Hume paid his respects to former Indonesian President Soeharto on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at the Cendana Palace. Ambassador Hume conveyed condolences from the United States of America:
The United States expresses our sincere condolences on the death of President Soeharto. President Soeharto led Indonesia for over 30 years, a period during which Indonesia achieved remarkable economic and social development. In the international arena, President Soeharto co-sponsored the formation of the ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and gave Indonesia an important role in the non-aligned movement while retaining close ties to the United States. Though there may be some controversy over his legacy, President Soeharto was a historic figure who left a lasting imprint on Indonesia and the region of Southeast Asia.

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