October 8, 2002

Dear Member of Congress:

Soon you will be asked to vote on a succession of Continuing Resolution bills that may contain provisions from the FY2003 Foreign Operations Appropriations bills from both Houses of Congress. We, the undersigned groups, applaud the work of the House and Senate committees for their demonstrated concern for victims of small arms, evident in the increased funding levels for demining and small arms destruction programs. At the same time, we are deeply concerned about provisions in the bill which eliminate restrictions on military aid to some of the world's most unstable regions and abusive regimes.

Since September 11th, the Bush administration has lifted or relaxed bans on military assistance to several "Frontline States" in the war on terror, many of which continue to violate the rights of their citizens, fight bloody wars against insurgents, and are involved in regional disputes that could erupt into destabilizing wars. The lifting of military aid restrictions to these countries undermines human rights norms and increases the likelihood that the U.S. will become mired in intractable civil conflicts. For these reasons, we urge you to:

Oppose expansion of US mission in Colombia. We are concerned about plans to lift restrictions on US assistance to Colombia that would allow for a broader US role in Colombia's internal conflict with armed opposition groups. We recommend that the Congress reinsert limits on US involvement in Colombia and strengthen its oversight of this policy. By expanding the US mission beyond combating illegal drugs, the US risks deepening its participation in a 38-year-old civil war that has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and the displacement of millions. Inevitably, the changing mission will bring with it new demands for increased US funding, intelligence sharing, and military equipment and training to support the new mission. One example is the $98 million for an oil pipeline protection unit - paid for and trained by the US - contained in the current House bill. Given the lack of any effective mechanisms to guarantee that U.S. assistance does not contribute to further human rights violations, we urge Congress to limit and carefully monitor the resources being spent on Colombia.

Maintain FY2002 restrictions on military aid to Indonesia. We strongly urge the House and Senate to reinsert the restriction on full International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia and maintain the restriction on Foreign Military Financing. The Indonesian government and armed forces have yet to meet the Leahy conditions required to lift restrictions as specified in the FY2002 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. The Indonesian military remains unreformed, wielding tremendous political power and terrorizing the very people it is supposed to protect. The military commits human rights violations daily, forms and sustains East Timor-style militia, and maintains a budget that is at least 70% off-line, replete with support for illicit acts and businesses. The recent acquittal of security officers by Indonesia's ad hoc human rights court on East Timor demonstrates a contempt for international standards of justice. Military alliances with domestically-focused fundamentalist Islamic militia contradict Indonesia's professed commitment to rooting out terrorism. In light of Secretary of State Powell's recent pledge of $50 million in military and police assistance for Indonesia, most of it for counter-terrorism, the IMET restriction would serve as inexpensive but important leverage to press the armed forces to reform their atrocious rights record -- a record which we are sure Congress does not condone.

As the House and Senate consider funding for the war on terrorism in the coming year, we underscore that many of the current laws that regulate the transfer of U.S. weapons and military skills abroad are based on lessons learned from past engagements. Restrictions on transfers are designed to prevent the U.S. from making similar mistakes again. We urge you to carefully consider these proposals to ensure that U.S. assistance does not contribute to further human rights violations and undermine the very goals our government hopes to advance.


Dr. Ian Davis
British American Security Information Council

Rev. Jerrye G. Champion,
National President
Church Women United

Martha Honey, Co-Director
Foreign Policy In Focus
Institute for Policy Studies

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action Education Fund

Beverly Lacayo
Africa Faith and Justice Network

Tamar Gabelnick
Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Federation of American Scientists

Darien De Lu and Sandy Silver
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, United States Section

Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Washington Office, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Joe Volk
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

James H. Matlack
Washington Office
American Friends Service Committee

Jenefer Ellingston
DC Statehood Green Party

Alexandra Arriaga
Director of Government Relations
Amnesty International USA

Rev Michael Dodd
Columban Fathers' Justice & Peace Office

Karen Orenstein
Washington Coordinator
East Timor Action Network

Mike Amitay
Executive Director
Washington Kurdish Institute

Stan De Boe, OSST
Office of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Sister Dianna Ortiz, OSU
Executive Director
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International

William D. Hartung
Arms Trade Resource Center
World Policy Institute

Carol Jahnkow
Executive Director
Peace Resource Center of San Diego

Marie Dennis
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Erik Hoffner
EarthAction International

Kurt Biddle
Indonesia Human Rights Network

Kathy Thornton, RSM
National Coordinator
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Todd Howland
Center for Human Rights
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial

Michael Beer
Nonviolence International

Peter J. Davies
US/UN Representative

Sharon Silber and Eileen B. Weiss
Jews Against Genocide

Medea Benjamin
Founding Director
Global Exchange

Roland Watson
Dictator Watch

John Oei
Indonesian, Chinese, and American Network

Mary Anne Mercer, DrPH
Northwest International Health Action Coalition (NIHAC)

Joseph K. Grieboski
Institute on Religion and Public Policy

Matthew Dean
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility/NYC

Molly Morgan
Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft

Rev. John Chamberlin
National Coordinator
East Timor Religious Outreach

Patricia Forner
Public Policy Advisor
Latin America and the Caribbean
World Vision U.S.

Rev. Greg Davidson Laszakovits
Washington Office
Church of the Brethren General Board