Rights concerns shadow US alliance with Indonesia

August 30, 2011 - 3:15 AM
US Indonesia

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2010, file photo President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono toast during a state dinner in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ahead of Obama's fall trip to Indonesia, the second of his presidency, rights groups and critics in Congress want Washington to press Jakarta harder over its weak response to recent sectarian attacks by Islamic hardliners and abuses by the military in remote west Papua. Obama has embraced Indonesia as a key U.S. ally in Southeast Asia, but those critics say the Obama administration is too eager to trumpet Jakarta as a democratic success story. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has embraced Indonesia as a crucial U.S. ally in Southeast Asia, but rights groups and congressional critics are saying the administration is too eager to trumpet Jakarta as a democratic success story.

Ahead of the second trip to Indonesia of Obama's presidency, these critics want the U.S. to press Indonesia harder about its weak response to recent sectarian attacks by Islamic hard-liners and military abuses in remote West Papua.

The demands clash with U.S. strategic interests in the moderate Muslim nation of 240 million, which has assumed growing importance for Washington as it deepens its engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Obama is making his second visit as president in November, when Indonesia hosts a summit of east Asian leaders.