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Bush Admin’s Waiver for Indonesian Military

Rights Group Rejects Added Aid for Indonesian Military

ETAN Responds to Bush Administration’s Waiver Justification

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) today urged Congress to reject the Bush administration's request for increased Foreign Military Financing (FMF) funds for Indonesia. The group said Congress should “zero out” the greater than six-fold increase and re-impose conditions on military assistance to Indonesia. The request is part of the administration's proposed budget for 2007.

"Arming the military is not the way to promote democracy and human rights in Indonesia," said Karen Orenstein, National Coordinator of ETAN. "Congress should zero out the Bush administration's unwarranted gift to Indonesia's unreformed military."

"Last November, the Secretary of State recklessly waived restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia, abandoning the best U.S. leverage to press for genuine reform," continued Orenstein. "Congress should reject this loophole as it considers the 2007 appropriations bill."

ETAN today published a detailed analysis of the administration's arguments for enacting the waiver, as contained in a Memorandum of

Justification produced by the State Department (see http://www.etan.org/news/2006/02waiver.htm).

"The State Department's memo is full of misleading and irrelevant arguments. It fails to make the case that the waiver is in the ‘national security interest’ of the U.S., as required by law," said Orenstein. "The waiver undeniably undermines efforts to promote justice for human rights crimes in East Timor and real reform in Indonesia."

The memo pledges that, “…the quality and quantity of our assistance will continue to be guided by progress on democratic reform and accountability, and carefully calibrated to promote these outcomes.”

However, no specific “calibrated” benchmarks against which such “progress” is to be measured are included in the memo. “State Department officials have indicated that no such benchmarks had been prepared, nor were any envisioned. The Congressional conditions that were waived, however, did provide such benchmarks,” according to ETAN’s analysis.

How does a large increase in funding for the Indonesian military represent a ‘carefully calibrated’ response to progress in reform?

Impunity for serious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, still reins supreme in Indonesia. The situation on the ground hasn’t changed since the November waiver,” said Orenstein.

Background

FMF provides grants and loans to governments to buy U.S. military weapons, equipment, services, and training.

In FY06, the administration plans to spend an estimated $990,000 in FMF funds. For FY07, the administration has asked for $6.5 million.

Proposed spending on IMET, a military training program, would grow from nearly $800,000 to $1.285 million.

In 2005, the administration chose to restart multiple military programs for Indonesia. Full IMET for Indonesia resumed for the first time since 1992. Last May, the administration resumed non-lethal Foreign Military Sales. Extensive counter-terrorism programs, in place for several years, continued to expand. The U.S. government has provided tens of millions of dollars for the Indonesian police, and the military receives the greatest share of the Pentagon's Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program.

On November 22, only two days after the FY 2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act became law, the State Department waived conditions restricting FMF and defense exports to Indonesia. Military assistance to Indonesia is now available without Congressional restrictions for that country for the first time in more than a decade.

The conditions abandoned by the administration include prosecution of those responsible for human rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere and implementation of reforms to enhance civilian control of the Indonesian military.

ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975 to 1999 and for restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces. For additional background, see http://www.etan.org/.

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