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Senators Criticize Waiver: US Weapons to Indonesia

Key Senators Criticize Waiver Allowing U.S. Weapons Exports to Indonesia

Cite Administration's Lack of Strategy to Encourage Accountability and Reform

Two key U.S. Senators recently criticized the Bush Administration's "premature" use of a waiver to allow weapons exports to Indonesia.
Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressed concern "that this waiver, unattached to any clear strategy or specific benchmarks, sends the wrong message to the Indonesian Government and to other countries."

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the Senators wrote that "The Administration needs to make clear to the Indonesian Government that the United States will continue to insist that it bring to justice those who have committed crimes against humanity, and reform its military to become professional, transparent, and grounded in the rule of law."

They urged Rice and Rumsfeld to report to Congress on Indonesia's progress on military reform and in prosecuting those responsible for human rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere.

The Senators requested a comprehensive strategy which links military assistance to accountability and military reform. "This strategy should contain clear consequences should the Indonesian Government not make significant progress."

"The Bush Administration's imprudent rush to expand assistance to the
Indonesian military is alarming and short-sighted," said Karen
Orenstein, National Coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network. "We urge other members of Congress to work with
Senators Feingold and Leahy to establish a forward-looking policy which promotes genuine accountability for human rights crimes and real reform of Indonesia's corrupt military."

Senator Leahy, ranking member of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, authored the restrictions on certain forms of military assistance, which the administration waived last
November only two days after President Bush signed them into law.
Senator Feingold, a member of the Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees, recently visited Indonesia. Both Senators have been consistent voices supporting human rights and reform in Indonesia.

A copy of the letter is below.

For more information see

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