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Rights Must Factor Into Assistance To Indonesia

Rights Must Factor Into Economic Assistance To Indonesia
Groups Call For Concrete Improvements In Justice And Human Rights Conditions

November 6--The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) and the Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) today called on the United States and other members of the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) to make non-humanitarian financial assistance to Indonesia contingent on concrete, substantial improvements in justice and human rights conditions in East Timor and Indonesia. The CGI, comprised of the major bilateral and multilateral providers of economic assistance to Indonesia, meets in Jakarta on November 7 and 8.

“The ability to promote human rights, democracy, and justice in Indonesia and East Timor will be short-changed if the U.S. delegation does not publicly address and act upon the shortcomings of the Indonesian government at the CGI meeting,” said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator for ETAN.

“At last year’s CGI meeting, the U.S. delegation stated their pledge was based on Indonesia’s compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1319. Progress in this direction has been far from adequate, and this must be taken into account by donor countries and agencies this year. The most effective way to ensure the Indonesian government takes these issues seriously is to put conditions on disbursement of donor funds,” added Karen Orenstein.

During the CGI conference in 2000, the U.S. delegation stated that “the U.S. decision to obligate these pledged funds will take into account not only Indonesia’s economic progress…but also that on UNSCR 1319.” UN Security Council Resolution 1319 “stresses that those responsible for the attacks on international personnel in West and East Timor be brought to justice” and “insists that the Government of Indonesia take immediate additional steps…to disarm and disband the militia immediately, restore law and order in the affected areas in West Timor, ensure safety and security in the refugee camps and for humanitarian workers, and prevent cross-border incursions into East Timor.”

“Human rights conditions have not improved in Indonesia over the past year, and in some areas have worsened remarkably. The Indonesian military continues its strategy of targeting human rights defenders, humanitarian workers, and other civilians. Arrest and detention of political prisoners have actually increased,” said Kurt Biddle, Washington Coordinator for IHRN.

“The U.S. administration must increase its pressure on Indonesia to comply with promises to bring perpetrators of crimes against humanity in East Timor and Indonesia to justice, rather than trust the latest assurances by senior Indonesian officials. Donors must back up their words with action,” said Biddle.

“The world rightfully condemned the extremely lenient sentences given to the six militia members who confessed to the September 6, 2000 killing of three UN refugee workers in West Timor. Fourteen months later, however, militia leaders still control refugee camps in West Timor and reside there with impunity. Further, those responsible for the murder of two UN peacekeepers in East Timor have not been brought to justice. What message will the U.S. send to the Indonesian government and security forces if non-humanitarian donations are pledged and obligated as usual?” questioned Orenstein.

Although refugee returns from West Timor have recently increased, the government of Indonesia has yet to effectively disarm militia. Sixty to eighty thousand East Timorese continue to languish in deplorable conditions. Furthermore, no Indonesian military or civilian personnel have been prosecuted for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999. A UN International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor in January 2000 called for an international tribunal to be established.

Aceh is a virtual military zone. More than 1200 people, most of them civilians, have been killed there since January of this year. In West Papua, murder, torture, and kidnappings by police are part of the "Sweeping and Clampdown Operation" that began in mid-June in the Wasior subdistrict of Manokwari. Hundreds of additional police and military troops have been deployed to the area. Some 5,000 civilians have fled their homes.

Members of the CGI include the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. Bilateral donors include the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Denmark and Australia.

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) supports advocates democracy, sustainable development, social, legal, and economic justice and human rights, including women's rights for the people of East Timor. ETAN, which has 28 local chapters throughout the U.S., calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975. For additional information see ETAN's web site (

The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to educate and activate the American public and influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability and rule of law in Indonesia. IHRN seeks to end armed forces repression in Indonesia by exposing it to international scrutiny. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen civil society. See for more information.


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