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Restrictions on Military Training for Indonesia

For Immediate Release

House of Representatives Reinstates Restrictions on Military Training for Indonesia

July 16, 2003 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) and the Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN)today praised the U.S. House of Representatives for reinstating a ban on military training for Indonesia.

The amendment to the State Department FY2004-2005 Authorizations bill (H.R. 1950), which passed today, would restrict International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia until President Bush certifies that Indonesia is "taking effective measures" to fully investigate and criminally prosecute those responsible for the August 31, 2002 attack on ten U.S. citizens murdering two school teachers, in Timika, Papua (see below). Indonesian police and NGO investigations have strongly implicated the Indonesian military (TNI) in the attack.

While praising the action, the two groups urged Congress to expand the conditions on resumption of IMET.

"Indonesia must understand that Congress takes an attack on U.S. citizens very seriously. Restrictions on U.S. military assistance should also acknowledge escalating assaults on the rights of others in the Indonesian archipelago," said Kurt Biddle, Coordinator of IHRN. "Instead of freeing political prisoners, another past Congressional condition, Indonesia has slapped stiff prison sentences on political activists such as Muhammad Nazar, who was given five years earlier this month."

"Many past Congressional conditions, including accountability for past rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia, and transparency in the military budget, have never been met," said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator of ETAN. "Now, a massive military assault is now being perpetrated against the people of Aceh - replete with extra-judicial executions, torture, rape, and massive displacement - utilizing U.S.-supplied weapons."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a nearly identical provision last May.

The House amendment originated from Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) and was offered as part of an en bloc amendment by Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL).

Language in the bill also condemns Indonesia's failure to hold accountable members of its security forces for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor and "expresses concern that members of the Indonesian security forces continue to commit many serious human rights violations, particularly in areas of conflict," including Aceh and Papua (see below).

"The Bush administration has pushed for resumption of military ties with Indonesia in the name of fighting the 'War on Terror,'" said Kurt Biddle of IHRN. "Currently, it is the Indonesian military terrorizing the people of Aceh and elsewhere."

Senior Bush administration officials reportedly have decided to release funds for IMET for Indonesia for this fiscal year, but the administration must first "consult" with Congress before obligating the money; these meetings have not yet taken place.

See for additional background.

ETAN advocates for democracy, sustainable development, justice and human rights, including women's rights, for the people of East Timor. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975.

IHRN is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to educate and activate the American public and influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability and rule of law in Indonesia. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen civil society.




(a) CONDITION ON ASSISTANCE.Subject to sub-section (c), no funds made available under section 23 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2763) or chapter 5 of part II of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2347 et seq.) in fiscal year 2004, other than funds made available for expanded military education and training under such chapter, may be available for a program that involves the Government of Indonesia or the Indonesian Armed Forces until the President makes the certification described in subsection (b).

(b) CERTIFICATION.The certification referred to in subsection (a) is a certification submitted by the President to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Armed Forces are taking effective measures, including cooperating with the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

(1) to conduct a full investigation of the attack on United States citizens in West Papua, Indonesia on August 31, 2002; and

(2) to criminally prosecute the individuals responsible for such attack.

(c) LIMITATION.Nothing in this section shall prohibit the United States Government from continuing to conduct programs or training with the Indonesian Armed Forces, including counterterrorism training, officer visits, port visits, or educational exchanges that are being con ducted on the date of the enactment of this Act.




This provision expresses a the sense of Congress regarding the ongoing need for justice related to crimes committed by the Indonesian military and Indonesian supported militias in East Timor.

The Committee supports efforts by East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation to consolidate peace and reconciliation and encourages the President to expeditiously assist in the provision of information requested in the January 24, 2003 letter from the Commission.

The Committee supports the extension of the mandate of the joint UN-East Timor Serious Crimes Investigation Unit and the Special Panel for Serious Crimes beyond May 2004 to pursue justice and avoid a backlog of cases lacking investigation and trials.

The Committee encourages the UN and Indonesian authorities to continue to resolve the situation of the approximately 28,000 East Timorese remaining in Indonesia. In light of the recent resumption of killings and other crimes in East Timor by militia members based in Indonesia it is particularly urgent that the remnants of militia organizations be quickly removed from the border area. It is also important to provide decent humanitarian conditions and to ensure freedom of choice in repatriation and resettlement, particularly for those who may still be subject to intimidation by militia organizations.


This section expresses concern that members of the Indonesian security forces continue to commit many serious human rights violations, particularly in areas of conflict such as Aceh, Papua, the Moluccas, and Central Sulawesi. It also expresses other concerns in the region.

The Committee urges every effort be made to salvage the Framework Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities in Aceh (COHA). The Administration should strongly urge the Indonesian Government and military to halt the present build-up of troops and military equipment in Aceh and to abandon plans for intensified military operations in Aceh, and press the Indonesian Government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to resume talks within the framework of COHA, so as to bring about a reduction in the level of armed conflict in Aceh.

The Committee is deeply concerned by reports of an Indonesian military campaign targeting civilians in the Central Highlands of Papua, which reportedly includes the burning of villages and torture and killing of detainees. The Committee notes the lack of justice in the trial for the murder of Papuan civic leader Theys Eluay, which was treated as an ordinary crime rather than a political killing, and which has resulted only in very lenient sentences for low-ranking Special Forces (Kopassus) officers. The Committee also has concerns regarding the Presidential Decree of January 2003, which, over objections from people within Papua, would divide Papua into three provinces, in violation of the government's own Special Autonomy Law for Papua.

The Committee expresses concern over assistance for the Indonesian military, including the provision of International Military Education and Training, because of human rights abuses linked to the military and especially because the case involving the killing of two U.S. citizens and one Indonesian citizen and the wounding of others in the Timika area of Papua on August 31, 2002 remains unresolved. The Committee contests that military assistance, if given, should be contingent on a the release of a transparent budget audit of the Indonesian military, an end of resistance to the principle of civilian control, an improved record with respect to human rights abuses carried out by the military as noted in the State Department's Human Rights Report, and the ability of the government to hold security forces accountable for crimes against humanity in East Timor and serious crimes elsewhere in Indonesia.

Contact: Karen Orenstein, East Timor Action Network, 202-544-6911,

Kurt Biddle, Indonesia Human Rights Network, 510-559-7762,

© Scoop Media

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