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Cablegate: U.S. Naval Medical Research Center Draws Further

VZCZCXRO5155
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0804/01 1130944
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 220944Z APR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8779
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2378
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0923
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1783
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1863
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2572
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 2622
RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 0734
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RULSAAV/NAVMEDRSCHCEN SILVER SPRING MD
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFISS/BUMED WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000804

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/P, L, OES, G/AIAG
NSC FOR E.PHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR TBIO AMED ID
SUBJECT: U.S. NAVAL MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER DRAWS FURTHER
CRITICISM, SCRUTINY

REF: JAKARTA 740 (AND PREVIOUS)

JAKARTA 00000804 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari paid a
surprise visit to the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit in
Jakarta (NAMRU-2) on Friday, April 18. Although the visit
went without serious incident, Supari escalated her criticism
of NAMRU in subsequent media interviews. Several legislators
joined in the criticism and called for the lab's closure. FM
Wirajuda questioned granting diplomatic immunity to NAMRU
personnel. Mission will report septel the implications of
this increasing criticism for the future of NAMRU's
operations. END SUMMARY.

SURPRISE VISITOR

2. (SBU) Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari made an
unscheduled visit to NAMRU on Friday, April 18, with a TV
crew and print reporters in tow. She said her visit was to
confirm that NAMRU was no longer conducting studies that
involved the transfer of biological specimens. (Note: The
Ministry of Health on March 31 wrote to NAMRU ordering it to
halt all studies/surveillance which included the transfer of
biological specimens until the U.S. and Indonesian
Governments agreed on a new MOU governing NAMRU's operations.
Reftels.)

3. (SBU) After a brief delay--caused by Supari's unexpected
arrival--she was escorted through the facility by two
American staff. She asked several of NAMRU's local staff
whether NAMRU was still receiving biological samples. All
said that the facility had not received any samples since the
Ministry had ordered Indonesian institutions to cease sharing
samples with the lab.

HER SIDE OF THE STORY

4. (SBU) Heightened criticism of NAMRU came in the wake of
Supari's visit. In an interview published in the April 21
edition of the Indonesian-language daily Koran Tempo, she
criticized NAMRU for allegedly making her wait ten minutes
before allowing her entry. This was inappropriate, she
charged, because the facility was on Ministry of Health land.
She also questioned the appropriateness of having the
facility run by the U.S. military. The TV crew that
accompanied Supari subsequently produced a negative report on
NAMRU's operations, which ran on a major national TV network.

5. (SBU) Supari added more criticisms the following day. She
said the lab's operations must be more transparent and noted
"I have no idea what NAMRU does." Further, NAMRU had never
reported the results of its research to the Indonesian
Government, the minister asserted. Finally, Supari argued
that as malaria and dengue fever still affected Indonesia,
NAMRU had not provided any concrete benefits to the
Indonesian people. That said, Supari held out the
possibility that the GOI and USG could reach agreement on a
new MOU as long as it was mutually beneficial to both
countries.

OTHER CRITICS PILE ON

6. (SBU) Several members of the legislature (DPR) joined the
fray. Dr. Ribka Tjiptaning, Chair of the DPR's Commission IX
responsible for health matters, called for NAMRU to be shut
down. Speaking to reporters, she attacked presidential
advisor Dino Djalal for saying that the Indonesian Government
still sought to reach agreement on a new MOU governing
NAMRU's operations. Indonesia did not need American
assistance with health research, Tjiptaning claimed.


JAKARTA 00000804 002.2 OF 002


7. (SBU) Other legislators made more sinister charges.
Soeripto (one name only), Deputy Chair of DPR Commission III
(law and human rights), claimed that NAMRU was a front for
intelligence activities and also called for its closure.
Yuddi Chrisnandi, a member of Commission I (foreign affairs,
defense and intelligence) charged that the Indonesian
Military (TNI) did not have sufficient control over NAMRU's
operations. TNI spokesman Colonel Ahmad Yani told the Indo
Pos newspaper that NAMRU's operations were in the domain of
the Ministry of Health.

FM WEIGHS IN

8. (SBU) Speaking to reporters on April 21, FM Wirajuda
discounted the most sensational allegations and said he had
no knowledge of NAMRU's involvement in intelligence
activities. However, he reportedly cast doubt on the need
for NAMRU personnel to have diplomatic immunity. Wirajuda
argued, that "they constitute a research unit, not a
diplomatic mission. Therefore, we believe there is no need
for immunity," according to press reports. The FM echoed
Supari's call for greater transparency. He also said
Indonesia was still open to negotiating a new MOU on NAMRU
but noted that the USG had not yet responded to the draft
text that the GOI had submitted for USG review in November,
2007.

HUME

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