etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer MARCH 2000 ACTION FOR A FREE EAST TIMOR



The Clinton administration is considering restoring ties between the U.S. and Indonesian militaries despite continued Indonesian military (TNI) and militia activity on the East-West Timor border and in East Timor's enclave of Oecussi. Military violence against civilians continues in Indonesia. Current law prohibits weapons transfers and military training, but Pentagon and State Department officials are planning high-level contacts and so-called humanitarian operations. No matter how limited, these would send the wrong political message to the military in Jakarta. Now is not the time to discuss normalization of military ties with Indonesia. Key House and Senate subcommittees are beginning to meet to consider the FY 2001 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. Certain government officials and members of Congress are trying to remove current provisions that restrict the normalization of military ties with Indonesia until key conditions pertaining to East Timor are met, thus keeping the conditions from extending into 2001. Now is the time to strengthen the current six conditions, by adding new stipulations concerning the need for civilian control over the Indonesian armed forces. Now is a critical time to contact Representatives and Senators to express opposition to normalization of U.S. ties with the Indonesian military. (See below for additional background.)


CALL: Your Senators and Representatives and ask for the foreign policy staffer. The congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121, or consult for fax and e-mail information. If you don't know your members of Congress, contact your local League of Women Voters. Representatives and Senators who sit on the Appropriations Committees are especially important. For a list of House and Senate Appropriations Committee members, send a blank e-mail to Remember to thank your Representatives and Senators for any previous support.

Tell your Senators and Representative

  •  Now is not the time for the U.S. administration to be considering re-engagement with the Indonesian military. 
  • To support the inclusion of the current six Leahy conditions pertaining to East Timor (see below) in next year's Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. Let her/him know that these conditions have not been met. 
  • The FY 2001 Foreign Operations Appropriation bill should include the following additional conditions, so that U.S. military ties with Indonesia can not be normalized until: 
    * there is genuine termination of dual function of the Indonesian military, including the dissolution of the "territorial command structure," 
    * military and military-sponsored militia violence against the peoples of West Papua, Aceh, the Molucca Islands, and other areas of Indonesia ends, 
    * the Indonesian military cooperates fully with domestic and international investigations of human rights abuses in Indonesia and East Timor. 
  • The U.S. should strongly support continued investigations by the UN's International Commission of Inquiry in preparation for an international tribunal on last year's military violence in East Timor, while encouraging the Indonesian government to carry out its own investigations and prosecutions in a comprehensive manner that meets international standards for its investigations and prosecutions. Conditions laying out these standards should be defined now.
  • The U.S. should provide adequate aid for East Timor for FY 2001. President Clinton requested only $10 million for East Timor for 2001, down from $25 million for FY 2000. Current levels must be maintained to support development, reconstruction, and institution-building for at least the next two years.

Also ask your Representative to co-sponsor HR 1063, the International Military Training Transparency and Accountability Act, if s/he has not already done so. (A current list of co-sponsors can be found at This binding legislation closes loopholes the Pentagon has used to continue to train human rights violators despite the congressional ban on combat training for Indonesia under the IMET program.

Thank you for your support. It makes a difference. Please let ETAN know the results of your contacts. Sample letters are available by sending a blank e-mail to or at

Last fall, Congress cut off military training and weapons transfers until Indonesia meets six conditions pertaining to East Timor contained in the current Foreign Operations Appropriations legislation. Legally-binding congressional conditions stipulate that the Indonesian government and military must allow "displaced persons and refugees to return home to East Timor" and bring to justice military and militia members responsible for human rights atrocities. They also require Indonesia to actively prevent militia incursions into East Timor, and demonstrate accountability through cooperation with investigations and prosecutions of Indonesian military and militias responsible for human rights violations. The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, which contains the current six Leahy conditions, must be renewed every year. These conditions are far from met, and others should be added.

A genuine end to dual function of the Indonesian military would include the removal of military officers from civil service, as well as from un-elected parliamentary seats. It would include the dissolution of the "territorial command structure" of the military at every tier of society, from non-commissioned officers in most villages to several or more battalions stationed in every province. These powers are not codified in Indonesia's constitution nor in its laws.

President Abdurrahman Wahid has significantly reduced the power of the Indonesian military, as he continues to assert democratic government. But the powerful military and intelligence bureaucracies will not easily surrender the power and corruption they have become accustomed to. The best way for the United States to support civilian government is to unambiguously tell the Indonesian military that their former Washington patron no longer supports illegal or violent attempts to maintain power or subvert Indonesia's emerging democracy. Any restoration of U.S. support for Indonesia's military undercuts that message.

A complete end to military and military-sponsored militia violence against the peoples of Indonesia should include a permanent end to special military operational areas in West Papua and Aceh; an end to "sweepings" (where people even remotely associated with a movement deemed threatening by the Indonesian military are arrested and detained); and the withdrawal of Indonesian troops from West Papua, Aceh, and other areas, including West Timor. The separation of ABRI (the former acronym for the Indonesian military) into TNI and civilian police must be complete.

Aid The U.S. will contribute $25 million in economic support funds (not including emergency humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping funds) for East Timor this year. This money will go to support development, East Timorese NGOs, security, the UN Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and the World Bank trust fund. Despite great needs for development, reconstruction, institution-building, and indigenous NGO support, only $10 million has been requested for 2001. This is too low.

Refugees The situation for refugees in West Timor and other parts of Indonesia remains dire. East Timorese in camps face ongoing threats and intimidation by TNI-supported militias, little to no medical care, and high levels of malnutrition. UNICEF recently reported that one in four children under the age of five suffers from acute malnutrition in West Timor refugee camps. Recent reports, cited by the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, suggest that over 700 people, most children, have died from various illnesses since last September due to inadequate sanitation and medical care. Access to many of the camps by humanitarian organizations remains limited, and aid workers have been threatened. The Indonesian military and its militia allies are spreading disinformation to discourage East Timorese from returning home. At the present rate, it would take at least 6 months for the refugees to return home from Kupang alone, only one of three major refugee areas.

The Border East Timor is not yet secured against militia and Indonesian military (TNI) threats. In early March, international peacekeepers near the border between East and West Timor came under fire from Indonesian military-backed militias four times in 24 hours. East Timor's isolated enclave of Oecussi has also come under regular militia attack, with the support of TNI. The Indonesian military remains massed on the border, where it conducts exercises. Several thousand militia members are still active along the West Timor border. TNI and militias often prevent East Timorese from spontaneously returning and harass aid workers trying to enter and leave West Timor. In the last four weeks alone, according to UNTAET, militias perpetrated 16 separate incidents.

Prosecuting Human Rights Violators Both the Indonesian National Commission of Inquiry and the UN's International Commission of Inquiry have released reports revealing high-level military collaboration in the atrocities committed against the people of East Timor last year. The special UN panel has recommended that an international tribunal with substantial Indonesian and East Timorese presence be established. Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman is moving forward with indictments within the next few months. Preparations for an international tribunal would guarantee justice for East Timor should Indonesia's efforts at prosecution falter or fail to meet international standards.

Contact Karen Orenstein at ETAN's Washington office, 202-544-6911,, or consult the ETAN website,, for more information.

For additional info see ETAN's web site see or contact Karen Orenstein in ETAN's DC office:

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