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Senate Passes Ban On Military Ties To Indonesia

East Timor Action Network

U.S. Senate Comm. Passes Ban On Military Ties To Indonesia

For Immediate Release September 27, 2000

Contact: Karen Orenstein, 202-544-6911 John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; 917-690-4391 (mobile)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passes Ban on U.S. Military Ties to Indonesia Urges Indonesia to Bring Militias and Military Under Control

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today passed legislation which bans all U.S. military assistance to Indonesia. The committee passed the measure unanimously by voice vote. The bill now goes to the Senate floor.

The legislation, the East Timor Repatriation and Security Act Of 2000 (S. 2621), bans military cooperation with and assistance to the Indonesian armed forces until the U.S. President certifies certain conditions have been met by the Indonesian government and military, including the safe return of refugees to East Timor and judicial accountability for military and militia members responsible for human rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia. The bill also requires Indonesia to demonstrate a commitment to prevent militia incursions into East Timor and to not impede the UN administration in East Timor.

"This bill prevents the U.S. from prematurely resuming military ties with Indonesia. Its passage today adds to widespread international pressure on Indonesia to rein in the militias and end the collusion between the military and the militias it created," said Karen Orenstein of the East Timor Action Network. "We join with the U.S. Congress in urging the Indonesian government to live up to its own promises to take action for peace, stability and justice for East Timor."

The law cites the September 6 killing of three U.N. humanitarian workers (including a U.S. citizen) in West Timor by militias, Indonesian armed forces training and support for the militias, the deaths of two UN peacekeepers in East Timor in militia attacks, and the murder of U.S. resident and human rights lawyer Jafar Siddiq Hamzah in Medan, Indonesia, as reasons for the measure.

S. 2621 extends and expands current congressional restrictions passed in November 1999 as part of the FY 2000 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. That legislation only covers items such as International Military Education and Training (IMET) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) that must be renewed annually.

S. 2621 was introduced by Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) and co-sponsored by nine others, including Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).

In September 1999, the U.S. suspended military ties and economic assistance to Indonesia while the Indonesian military and its militias were destroying East Timor following the August 30 independence vote. Soon after, the Indonesian military began to withdraw from East Timor and an international peacekeeping force entered.

Last spring, the U.S. military began a planned phased re-engagement with its Indonesian counterparts. Indonesian officers took part as observers in a U.S.-sponsored Cobra Gold military exercise in Thailand in May. In July, a joint U.S.-Indonesian exercise called CARAT/2000, in which the Indonesian navy and marines trained with their U.S. military counterparts, took place in East Java.

Just prior to Secretary of Defense William Cohen's visit to Indonesia on September 17 and 18, the Pentagon said it had reinstated the U.S. suspension of military assistance to Indonesia.

A companion bill, The Repatriation and Security Act of 2000 (HR 4357), was introduced earlier this year in the House of Representatives by Jim McGovern (D-MA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and others. HR 4357 currently has 55 sponsors.

Copies of this and other related legislation can be found at http://www.etan.org/legislation.

The East Timor Action Network/ U.S. (ETAN) was founded in November 1991 to support East Timorese self-determination. ETAN supports human rights in Indonesia and works for a peaceful transition to independence in East Timor. It has 28 local chapters throughout the U.S. end

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John M. Miller Internet: john@etan.org Media & Outreach Coordinator, East Timor Action Network 48 Duffield St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097 Mobile: (917)690-4391 Web site: http://www.etan.org


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