Indonesia's addition by the U.S. Justice Department to the 20 countries worldwide whose male citizens will be subjected to a stringent Entry-Exit Registration System when visiting the United States has provoked its share of outrage from the Indonesian Government.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, James A. Kelly learned just how badly Indonesia's national pride has been wounded by the new policy during meetings on Friday, January 17, 2003, in Jakarta with Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri and Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirayuda. Minister Wirayuda said: "The new policy is discriminatory, arbitrary, and unacceptable for Indonesia ... it sends the wrong signal to the war against terrorism as we all know that Indonesia, and the U.S., have both been victims to acts of terrorism."
The new policy requires all Indonesian visitors to the United States over the age of 16 to report to U.S. Immigration and Naturalization authorities on a regular basis and undergo fingerprinting and photographic identification. Indonesian male nationals under the age of 16, holding a green U.S. residence card, or possessing a diplomatic passport are to be currently exempted from the special registration process.
Many observers are concerned that the policy, seen as targeted specifically at nations with large Moslem populations and launched at a time when the U.S. is preparing to wage war on Iraq, will provide ample opportunity for those wishing to portray the current U.S. war on terror as, in fact, a war on Islam.
In her talks with Assistant Secretary of State, James A. Kelly, the Indonesian President warned the senior U.S. Diplomat of the political pressure current U.S. policies place on the leadership of countries with large Moslem populations endeavoring to support the international struggle against terrorism and the backlash of anti-western sentiment such policies potentially engender.
While vowing to monitor the treatment of Indonesian nationals by the U.S. Government as a result of the new immigration policy, the Indonesian Government said it would also issue a travel advisory to its nationals advising them to consider delaying visits to the United States.
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