Dear Ministers Pettigrew, Carroll and Graham:
Attached is a letter from a group of Canadian civil society organizationsthat are gravely concerned about ongoing Indonesian military operations in Aceh, and the military's role in the delivery of aid to victims of the tsunami-earthquake disaster in that region. We ask that Ministers Pettigrew and Carroll raise these concerns at the January 6 meeting in Jakarta for donors and affected countries.
KAIROS will facilitate correspondence for all signatories to the letter, so we kindly ask that all communication be directed to:
Mary Corkery, Executive Director
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
129 St. Clair Ave. West
Fax: (416) 463-5569
Any telephone or email enquiries may be directed to me at(416) 463-5312 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
Programme Officer/Coordonnatrice de programme
International Human Rights (Asia/Middle East)
Droits humains internationaux (Asie/Moyen-Orient)
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives/
Initiatives canadiennes oecuméniques pour la justice
129 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4N 1N5
Telephone: 416.463.5312 Ext. 226
Visit our website: www.kairoscanada.org
January 5, 2005
The Honourable Pierre Pettigrew, MP, PC, Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Honourable Aileen Carroll, MP, PC, Minister for International Cooperation
The Honourable Bill Graham, MP, PC, Minister for Defense
House of Commons
Dear Mr. Pettigrew, Ms. Carroll, and Mr. Graham:
Re: Ongoing Indonesian military operations and the military’s role in the delivery of aid to the tsunami-affected people of Aceh
As organizations that have a long history of supporting human rights, justice and democracy in Indonesia, we are writing to express our grave concern about the ongoing military operation in Aceh and the lead role that the Indonesian military is playing in the region’s relief operation. Based on reports that we have received and information from partner organizations, we would like to draw your attention to Indonesian military policies and actions which severely compromise the well being of the victims of the tsunami-earthquake disaster.
On December 31, the Indonesian military headquarters information centre announced that operations against separatist rebels would continue during this time of humanitarian crisis. Later, military spokesperson, Lieutenant Col. Edi Sulistiadi announced that “… half of our troops in Aceh will be concentrated on the humanitarian operation, and the rest still focused on security, in a ‘defensive-active’ mode.” This is a reversal of the military’s earlier declaration of a cease-fire which would free-up all personnel to carry out relief efforts. In addition to diverting equipment and resources away from responding to this emergency, media and community groups report that the Indonesian military is increasing its operations against civilians and raiding villages believed to support the separatist rebels.
This continued military operation in Aceh - the largest since the invasion of East Timor - is precisely why the army’s leading role in delivering aid is very problematic. Since the beginning of its offensive in May 2003, human rights organizations, including the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights, have identified the military as responsible for gross human rights violations against the civilian population. Furthermore, media and local non-governmental organizations are now reporting the systemic misappropriation of aid by the military. We have received accounts of theft of food aid and logistical supplies, and military involvement in the sale of aid to victims in Banda Aceh, Bireun and Meulaboh.
As the international community gathers in Jakarta for tomorrow’s meeting of donors and affected countries, we call on the Canadian government to do the following in order for Canada’s urgently needed assistance to reach the people of Aceh:
- Press the Indonesian government to unequivocally declare and respect a cease fire, halt all military operations and lift the state of civil emergency in Aceh. These immediate steps should be followed by the demilitarization of Aceh under some form of international guarantee. Law enforcement should be carried out by local police with the support of international police under UN responsibility.
- Deliver foreign aid as directly as possible to the affected populace. International organizations should be allowed to provide assistance outside of military channels and to distribute aid directly and through local NGOs. Only if the military is disarmed and placed under civilian oversight should it be allowed to carry out humanitarian and reconstruction tasks.
- Channel all Canadian aid through effective mechanisms with a priority to international, Canadian and local civil society organizations until Aceh is demilitarized.
- Press the Indonesian government to allow unrestricted access to the entire province by international and Indonesian civil society organizations for an unlimited length of time, and to allow for international monitoring and media reporting on relief efforts and human rights conditions.
- Take rigourous steps to ensure that corruption by military and government officials do not dissipate aid efforts.
- Guarantee that Canadian aid is not used for military purposes.
We thank you for your attention to these pressing concerns and request a meeting to discuss these matters further following the Jakarta meeting.
Jean-Louis Roy, President, Rights and Democracy
Mary Corkery, Executive Director, KAIROS: Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Pierre Beaudet, Director General, Alternatives
Richard Renshaw, Acting Executive Director, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Rita Parikh, Executive Director, Pacific People’s Partnership
Seh Ching Wen, President, Canadians Concerned About Ethnic Violence in Indonesia (CCEVI)
David Webster & Luisa Durante, West Papua Action Network (WESPAN)
Maggie Helwig, Coordinator, Canadian Action for Indonesia and East Timor
Michael Kerr, Director, Green Lotus International
cc. The Right Honourable Paul Martin, MP, PC, Prime Minister
Mr. Randolph B. Mank, Ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Indonesia
Ms. Alexa McDonough, New Democratic Party
Mr. Stockwell Day, Conservative Party
Ms. Francine Lalonde, Bloc Quebecois
Mr. Ted Menzies , Conservative Party
Mr. Gordon O'Connor, Conservative Party
Mr. Bill Blaikie, New Democratic Party
Ms. Bev Desjarlais, New Democratic Party