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Congress Reinstates Indonesia Mil. Training Ban

Congress Reinstates Ban on Military Training for Indonesia, Defies Administration

For Immediate Release

January 22, 2004 - Congress today restored a ban on International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia, just months after President Bush cited a "changed attitude" among legislators that would permit further military cooperation.

The Consolidated Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2004, H.R. 2673, bans IMET until the State Department determines that the Indonesian military (TNI) and government are cooperating with the FBI's investigation into an ambush which killed two U.S. citizens and an Indonesian in Papua. The Indonesian military is implicated in the attack in the mining operations area of Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan, which also wounded 11 people, including a six-year-old child.

"Congress must carefully monitor the progress of any investigations and press for credible prosecution and punishment of those responsible for these killings. The Bush administration has claimed in the past that the Indonesian military was cooperating when clearly it was not. Saying there is cooperation won't make it so," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for the East Timor Action Network (ETAN).

The bill continues the ban on foreign military financing of weapons sales and licenses for the export of lethal defense articles to Indonesia until a range of conditions are met, including extradition of those indicted by the joint UN-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit, a public audit of TNI funds, and prosecution of TNI members "who have been credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights, or to have aided or abetted militia groups" and punishment of those found guilty.

"Congress should insist that IMET not be renewed until the investigation is successfully completed and the perpetrators punished. I expect Congress to request a detailed justification from the State Department should it determine that there is genuine cooperation from the Indonesian government and the armed forces in respect to the investigation into the August 31, 2002, murders of my husband Rick Spier, Ted Burgon, and Bambang Riwanto," said Patsy Spier, a survivor of the attack.

"Congress, after more than a year of TNI's own 'investigation,' clearly remains disturbed by the lack of progress in resolving these horrific killings in Papua," said Karen Orenstein, ETAN’s Washington Coordinator. "History demonstrates that providing training only emboldens the Indonesian military to violate human rights and block accountability for past injustices."

While praising the restoration of the IMET ban, ETAN urged Congress to expand the conditions on resumption of IMET and extend conditionality to counter-terrorism training.

"Indonesia has yet to fulfill Congressional conditions previously placed on IMET, including accountability for rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia and transparency in the military budget," said Orenstein. "There is no justification for the removal of these conditions. Now, a massive military assault is being perpetrated against the people of Aceh - replete with extra-judicial executions, torture, rape and displacement - utilizing U.S.-supplied weapons. All assistance to the Indonesian military must be terminated, including counter-terrorism assistance."

“The Bush administration is giving the TNI far more assistance for counter-terrorism than for IMET. But the TNI continues to terrorize Indonesia’s residents; the military’s human rights record remains atrocious. The administration chooses to ignore evidence that the TNI works with the fundamentalist militia Laskar Jihad, which has caused tremendous conflict in Maluku and now in Papua. Who are the real terrorists here?” asked Miller.

Background

A 2002 study for the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School noted that the Indonesian army had become “a major facilitator of terrorism” due to “the radical Muslim militias they had organized, trained, and financed.” (Dr. Gaye Christoffersen, “Strategic Insight: The War on Terrorism in Southeast Asia,” Center for Contemporary Conflict, National Security Affairs Department, Naval Postgraduate School, March, 2002)

The Appropriations bill states that, “The managers remain troubled by the situation in Aceh and the ongoing conflict that has killed, injured and displaced thousands of innocent civilians. The managers…continue to believe that this conflict will only be resolved through a political process.”

Congress first voted to restrict Indonesia from receiving IMET, which brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training, in response to the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre of more than 270 civilians in East Timor. All military ties with Indonesia were severed in September 1999 as the Indonesian military and its militia proxies razed East Timor following its vote for independence.

Congress originally approved $400,000 for IMET in FY03, but Indonesia's participation in the program was ultimately limited to Expanded IMET, which involves limited classroom training.

In an interview prior to his October visit to Indonesia, President Bush stated, "Congress has changed their attitude" and was ready to provide further military assistance "because of the cooperation of the government on the killings of two U.S. citizens."

The State Department is believed to have recently placed on its visa watch list the highest-ranking personnel indicted for crimes against humanity by thejoint UN-East Timor Special Crimes Unit including former military chief General Wiranto, a leading presidential candidate in Indonesia. Others on the list are General Zacky Anwar Makarim, Major-General Kiki Syahnakri, General Adam Damiri, Colonel Tono Suratman, Colonel Mohammad Noer Muis, Lt. Colonel Yayat Sudrajat, and former East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares.

Additional background can be found at www.etan.org

ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975 and continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces.

-30-

Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668 Karen Orenstein, 202-544-6071

ETAN needs your support: Make a secure financial contribution: http://etan.org/etan/donate.htm


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John M. Miller Internet: fbp@igc.org

Media & Outreach Coordinator
East Timor Action Network: 12 Years for Self-Determination & Justice

48 Duffield St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097
Mobile phone: (917)690-4391
Web site: http://www.etan.org

Send a blank e-mail message to info@etan.org to find out
how to learn more about East Timor on the Internet

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