Signatures Needed on House Letter Opposing More Aid for Indonesian Military
An Action Alert from East Timor Action Network (ETAN), June 20, 2005
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Call Your Representative Today!
A letter to President Bush urging him to reconsider strengthening military ties with Indonesia is now circulating in the House of Representatives. The letter calls for Indonesia's rogue military to make considerable progress in human rights and accountability before increasing engagement. We need to get as many signatures as possible to send the Bush administration the strongest message possible. We need YOUR help to do that!
The Pentagon and State Department want to remove all Congressional restrictions on military assistance to Indonesia's brutal security forces. This month, the House of Representatives is debating the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which contains these restrictions. Your Representative's signature on this letter will send an important and timely to message both to Bush and other Representatives that support for one of the world's vicious militaries is unacceptable.
Please call your Representative today.
Urge her/him to sign the letter that Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) are circulating to President Bush to reconsider strengthening ties with the brutal Indonesian military until it makes considerable progress in improving its human right record, accountability, and security force reforms.
The deadline for signatures is June 30. To sign on, offices should contact Beth Tritter (Rep. Lowey) or George Phillips (Rep. Smith).
The Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121, or check www.congress.org for contact information. Every call makes a difference, so please contact your Representative. Please let us know the results of your efforts by sending an email to [email protected]. Thanks!
Representatives signed on so far (June 16): Lowey, Smith (NJ), Sabo, Oberstar, Hastings, Lewis (GA), Lofgren, Rothman, Woolsey, McGovern, Bishop (NY), DeLauro, Cardoza, Baldwin
Please note: Letters calling for justice for human rights crimes in East Timor are also circulating in the House and Senate. Go to http://etan.org/action/action05/06justltr.htm
The House of Representatives will decide this month whether to restrict Indonesia from receiving IMET, foreign military financing (FMF), and export licenses for lethal defense articles in the 2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The 2005 legislation forbids such export licenses and FMF until critical conditions are met, including presidential certification that the Indonesian government is prosecuting members of the armed forces accused of rights violations or aiding militia groups and punishing those guilty of such acts. (IMET brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training. Foreign military financing provides grants and loans to help countries purchase U.S.-produced weapons, defense equipment, services and military training.)
When Indonesia's president visited Washington in May, the Bush administration lifted restrictions in place since 1999 on the sale of "non-lethal" excess defense articles (surplus military equipment) and on foreign military sales of non-lethal items, allowing the Indonesian government to purchase military equipment, services, and training directly from the U.S. government.
Congress first voted to restrict Indonesia from receiving IMET in response to the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor by Indonesian troops wielding U.S.-supplied M-16 rifles. All military ties with Indonesia were severed in September 1999 as the military and its militia proxies razed East Timor. In late February, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice restored full IMET for Indonesia. Just two days later, the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices said, "Security force members murdered, tortured, raped, beat, and arbitrarily detained civilians and members of separatist movements, especially in Aceh and to a lesser extent in Papua." East Timorese and Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly called for restrictions on military engagement to be maintained.
For more information see Aceh Abandoned: The Second Tsunami.