Washington, DC 20003, 26 Mei 2005

Bismillaahirrahmaanirrahiim.
Assalamu'alaikum wr wbr.
 

THE BRUTAL TORTURE-MURDER IN 2000 OF ACHEHNESE HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER
John M. Miller, East Timor Action Network
Washington, DC 20003 - USA

 

THE BRUTAL TORTURE-MURDER IN 2000 OF ACHEHNESE HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER AND U.S. PERMANENT RESIDENT JAFAR SIDDIQ HAMZAH

24 May 2005

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 May 25 meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Indonesia has made progress in overcoming decades of U.S.-backed dictatorship by holding its first direct presidential election, giving President Yudhoyono a popular mandate for change. However, we find troubling ongoing human rights violations by Indonesia's security forces, especially in conflict areas; widespread impunity for crimes against humanity and other serious violations committed against the peoples of Timor-Leste and Indonesia; and the Indonesian military's continued resistance to civilian control and oversight, lack of budget transparency, and its persistent emphasis on internal security. We urge you to emphasize these issues in your discussions with President Yudhoyono and to refrain from promotion of military assistance to Indonesia's still brutal armed forces.

Since President Yudhoyono's election, the military has made plans to substantially escalate its presence in the archipelago, including a significant increase in the number of Army territorial commands. This runs counter to the widely-acknowledged need for military reform and will likely lead to increased human rights violations and illegal military activities, such as massive logging and human trafficking. Officers accused of significant human rights violations still maintain powerful positions and are rewarded with promotions. For example, Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, linked to human rights violations in Jakarta and Timor, and Suhartono Suratman, indicted for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste, were in April promoted to senior military positions over the protests of local human rights activists. Such appointments signal retreat from democratic change and undermine respect for human rights.

President Yudhoyono should be urged to fulfill his pledge to promote peaceful dialogue with broad cross sections of society, instead of overseeing increased militarization in Aceh, West Papua, and other areas of conflict. In West Papua, large civilian and church-led constituencies have yet to receive a government response to their proposal to turn the province into a Land of Peace. Negotiations between the Indonesian government and the leadership of the rebel Free Aceh Movement now underway in Helsinki represent a positive development, yet conditions on the ground in Aceh have not improved because the military refuses to commit to a ceasefire. Hundreds have been killed in military operations since the tsunami. The military's role in relief and reconstruction should be kept to a minimum, especially given the understandable distrust of the security forces among the Acehnese. President Yudhoyono should be advised to uphold the highest standard of transparency in the utilization of
international funding to rebuild Aceh. U.S. funds must be steered clear away from any business or organization affiliated with the military.

Conditions in West Papua have drastically worsened since President Yudhoyono took office. Moves to further divide the province against the wishes of the people continue, and promises of "Special Autonomy" remain unrealized. Recent and ongoing military operations have reportedly led to extrajudicial executions, thousands of internally displaced persons, and dangerous shortages of food and medicine. Alleged obstruction of humanitarian relief by the military has worsened the situation, and a scandal may erupt over the possible misuse of development assistance to finance military operations and create militia, a situation strikingly similar to past military sponsorship of militia to ravage Timor-Leste prior to independence.

President Yudhoyono should be urged to allow local and international humanitarian and human rights organizations and the media unconditional access throughout West Papua and Aceh.

We are deeply concerned about the lack of progress in the investigation of the brazen assassination of Munir, Indonesia's foremost human rights defender, the resolution of which President Yudhoyono has called a "test case for whether Indonesia has changed." We urge you to press President Yudhoyono to ensure that the investigation leads to credible criminal proceedings against the masterminds and perpetrators of this heinous crime. Too often in cases like this, perpetrators have not been brought to justice. For example, the brutal torture-murder in 2000 of Acehnese human rights lawyer and U.S. permanent resident Jafar Siddiq Hamzah remains unsolved.

We urge you to communicate to President Yudhoyono that accountability for crimes against humanity and other human rights violations committed in Timor-Leste remains an international concern. We expect you will make clear your administration's stated commitment to realizing genuine justice for the victims, as well as your disappointment with the delaying tactics shown by Indonesia with regard to the UN Secretary General's Commission of Experts (COE). This is only the latest example of the Indonesian government's opposition to holding its officials accountable for serious crimes in Timor-Leste; President Yudhoyono should seize the opportunity to break with these past policies. Unfortunately, the proposed bilateral Commission on Truth and Friendship, which can only recommend amnesties but not prosecution of key perpetrators, seems designed to enshrine impunity for human rights violations rather than encourage justice.

Furthermore, we strongly encourage you to communicate to President Yudhoyono that a narrow interpretation of cooperation in the FBI investigation of the August 2002 ambush murder of two Americans and an Indonesian at the Freeport McMoRan copper and gold mine in West Papua is unacceptable. Those responsible must be brought to justice, and any links to the Indonesian military must be thoroughly examined, regardless of who is implicated. We remind you that in February 2004, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage pledged to Patricia Spier, who lost her husband and was herself wounded in the ambush, that "cooperation" would mean seeing the case through to "its exhaustion."

Collaboration with an unaccountable military not only undermines military reform but also is inconsistent with U.S. anti-terrorism policy. In addition to systematically targeting civilians, elements of the Indonesian military cooperate with and possibly assist jihadist and other militia, including the Islamic Defenders Front in post-tsunami Aceh and Laskar Jihad.

It is incumbent upon you, Mr. President, to ensure that this first visit of President Yudhoyono advances respect for human rights and implementation of genuine justice and military reform throughout Indonesia rather than maintaining business-as-usual. East Timorese and Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly called for restrictions on military engagement to be maintained. The Indonesian military continues to terrorize its own people, by violating rights and resisting accountability and thorough reform. 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.

We thank you for your serious consideration.

Sincerely,

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
Acheh Center, USA
Alliance for Global Justice
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
The Borneo Project
Boston Catholic Task Force for East Timor
Campaign for Labor Rights
Center for International Policy
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Dictator Watch
Foreign Policy in Focus, Institute for Policy Studies
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Exchange
Green Delaware
Illinois Peace Action
Indiana Alliance for Democracy
Indonesian, Chinese and American Network
Institute on Religion and Public Policy
International Forum for Aceh
International Labor Rights Fund
Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom
Jews Against Genocide
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (Bethlehem, PA)
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Massachusetts Peace Action
Nicaragua Center for Community Action
Nicaragua Network
North Carolina Peace Action
Northwest International Health Action Coalition
The Oakland Institute
Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace
PeaceJam Foundation
Peace Action of New York
Peace Network of the Ozarks (Springfield, MO)
Peace Resource Center of San Diego
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
Peoples Decade of Human Rights Education
Press for Change
Quixote Center/Quest for Peace
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights
School of the Americas Watch
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
War Resisters League
The Washington Peace Center
West Papua Action Network
Wheaton Franciscans
Women Against Military Madness (Asia Pacific Committee)
Worker Rights Consortium
World Policy Institute
Young Koreans United of USA
Youth Advocate Program International
Additional signatures:
California Peace Action
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 24, 2005, 2:31PM.
CONTACT: East Timor Action Network
John M. Miller; 718-596-7668, 917-690-4391 (cell)

More Than 50 Groups Urge Bush Not to Offer Military Assistance to Indonesian President

WASHINGTON -- May 24 -- A wide range of U.S. organizations today urged President Bush not to offer military assistance to Indonesia when he meets President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tomorrow. The groups further called on Bush to raise concerns about ongoing human rights violations and the failure to bring to justice members of Indonesia's security forces responsible for human rights violations in Timor-Leste and Indonesia.

In a letter to Bush, 53 human rights, labor, religious, peace and other groups urged President Bush "to ensure that this first visit of President Yudhoyono advances respect for human rights and implementation of genuine justice and military reform throughout Indonesia rather than maintaining business-as-usual."

"If the Bush administration truly made promotion of democratic reform a top priority, then it would not be proposing to prop up the Indonesian military, the country's least democratic institution," said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), which organized the letter.

"Withholding prestigious U.S. military assistance is the best leverage the U.S. government has to demonstrate its commitment to justice, human rights and democratic reform goes deeper than words to actual action," she added.

"President Yudhoyono should be urged to fulfill his pledge to promote peaceful dialogue with broad cross sections of society, instead of overseeing increased militarization in Aceh, West Papua, and other areas of conflict," the groups wrote Bush.

"Collaboration with an unaccountable military not only undermines military reform but also is inconsistent with U.S. anti-terrorism policy. In addition to systematically targeting civilians, elements of the Indonesian military cooperate with and possibly assist jihadist and other militia," they wrote.

The full text of the letter can be found at http://etan.org/news/2005/05bush.htm#letter.

Background

Congress first voted to restrict Indonesia from receiving International Military Education and Training (IMET), which brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training, in response to the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre of more than 270 civilians 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." Congress still forbids foreign military financing and export of lethal defense articles for Indonesia until a wide range of 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.

In recent years, Congress had maintained only one condition restricting full IMET, namely- cooperation by Indonesian authorities with an FBI investigation into the 2002 ambush murders of two U.S. citizens and an Indonesian in West Papua. But cooperation by Indonesia has been spotty at best. The sole suspect indicted so far (by a U.S. grand jury) remains at large in Indonesia. His military connections, which appear to be extensive, have hardly been examined.

East Timorese and Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly called for restrictions on military engagement to be maintained. Victims and survivors of the West Papua killings have called for IMET restriction to continue until their case is fully resolved.

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.
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