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Letter To U.S. Ambassador Hume On Death Of Suharto

Subject: Letter to U.S. Ambassador Hume on His Condolences on Death of Suharto

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.

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 can be found at ]


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