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Open Letter To United States Congress:
Where is the Human Rights Approach in Selling Offensive Weapons to Indonesian Government?

KontraS (The Commission for The Disappeared and Victims of Violence), a human rights organization based in Indonesia, concern with the sell of eight new AH-64E advance apache attack military helicopters which include high-tech longbow radar by American Government to Indonesian Government. This bilateral tradingby the two governments above mentioned is open of serious question, especially in this regard to the human rights framework. We are afraid US Government has not take into consideration the impact of this offensive weapon trade could possibly worsen the human rights situation in Indonesia, particularly in the conflict areas, such as Papua.

As a human rights organization which face many difficulties in dealing with Indonesia Military accountability, we would say US government clearly ignores the fact that Indonesian military still has a big problem on human rights records to the civilians. Based on KontraS’ Annual report on 2012, there were704actsof violence, while 60peopledead, 615injuredand1351people detained.1. From the data, Indonesian Military committed 94 violation acts including; persecution, torture, shootings, intimidation, destruction,deception, and alsoarrestment with leads 172 people as the victims of those acts, cross the country in Indonesia. This number proves that security forces, including Indonesian military does not prioritize human rights-based approach and it leads into harming the fundamental freedoms of the civilian.

Moreover, as human rights standard setting and in order to compliance to the rule of law principle, Indonesian Military has lack of transparency on the data of violence acts towards civilians. Those human rights violations and their poor accountability have becoming common new pattern committed by Indonesian military against civilians in the after 15 years reform era. It can be concluded; correction mechanism within military body does not running well. Therefore, improving the accountability and transparency is sincerelyimportant these days, to build more professional military in Indonesia, such as reforming the military court law.

By this letter,first, we would suggest, the selling of the Helicopter could done through the balance development between provide the equipment and require the professional control mechanism with the due respect to the human rights fulfillment. This is important to ensure that equipment would not be used as a tool to harm the civilian. Second, we would ask the US Government to be transparent in explaining the plan to support the professionalism of Indonesia Military, not only to sell the attack helicopter; in what way the other cooperation would be taken? Is there any legal and ethical project would be done in the future among the bilateral cooperation? Is there any human rights frame works being applied to do military equipment business with Indonesia?

Since both Governments are not signing the Recent International Arms Trade Treaty until now, it has become very important to take our concern and answer our questions above. We are looking for your meaningful response. Thank you for your attention.

Jakarta, September 2, 2013

Sincerely,
Executive Committee of KontraS


Haris Azhar
Coordinator

1Annual Report 2012, “Justice Stalled while Violence Carries on”, KontraS, 2013, (Downloadable at http://kontras.org/buku/Laporan%20HAM%20Indonesia%202012.pdf).