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Ban Continues on Military Assistance for Indonesia

ETAN: House Subcom Continues Ban on Military Assistance for Indonesia

House Subcommittee Continues Ban on Military Assistance for Indonesia Calls for IMET, Military Sales to Remain Restricted

A key congressional subcommittee of the U.S. Congress last night acted to renew bans on International Military Education and Training (IMET) and foreign military financing (FMF) for Indonesia.

The Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives' Committee on Appropriations decided to extend the ban on 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 West Papua. The Indonesian military is implicated in the August 2002 attack in the mining operations area of Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan, which also wounded 11 people, including a six-year-old child.

The bill would also unconditionally continue the ban on foreign military financing of weapons sales and other assistance to Indonesia.

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.

"Congress, after more than two years of the TNI's own investigation, clearly remains disturbed by the lack of progress in resolving these horrific killings in West Papua," said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator of the East Timor Action Network (ETAN).

"However, we urge Congress to expand the conditions of the IMET ban to show it remains serious about promoting justice and military reform in Indonesia. History demonstrates that providing training and other assistance only emboldens the Indonesian military to violate human rights and block accountability for past injustices," she added.

"Congress must continue to carefully monitor the progress of any investigation into the West Papua killings, and more importantly press for credible prosecution and punishment consistent with international standards of those responsible. Cooperation in itself is too low of a threshold," said Orenstein.

"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. In fact, the TNI continues to systematically violate human rights throughout the archipelago, especially in Aceh and West Papua. Those indicted for -- and in some cases convicted of -- crimes against humanity continue to maintain powerful positions. One, General Wiranto, is a credible candidate for president," she said

Background

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.

For fiscal year 2004, after a contentious debate, Congress eventually banned IMET in a bill passed in January until the State Department determines that the Indonesian military (TNI) and government are cooperating with the FBI's investigation of the 2002 ambush.

Only a few months earlier President Bush had said that "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."

On May 10, a UN-backed court in East Timor issued an arrest warrant for General Wiranto, the Armed Forces Commander and Defense Minister in 1999 and now a leading presidential candidate. Trained in the U.S., Wiranto's troops and their militia proxies conducted a campaign of terror resulting in more than 1400 deaths, displacement of three-quarters of the population and destruction of most of East Timor's infrastructure. Wiranto was indicted on February 24, 2003, for crimes against humanity before the Special Panel. Soon after, the U.S. State Department placed Wiranto on its visa watch list.

A number of other senior military and police officials and militia indicted in East Timor and Indonesia for crimes against humanity in East Timor are active in military operations in Aceh and West Papua.

The House is scheduled to take up the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill in July. However, the legislation is unlikely to be finalized until after November's U.S. election.

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.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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