ISSN #1088-8136

Vol. 11, No. 1
Spring 2005

   

Spring 2005  Home

ETAN Assists Aceh

ETAN Takes A New Name

Whatís the Deal with the Timor Sea?

IMET Certified; Congress Speaks Out on TNI, Aceh, Papua, Timor Sea

Estafeta
back issues

ETAN Home Page

 

IMET Certified; Congress Speaks Out on TNI, Aceh, Papua, Timor Sea

by Karen Orenstein

With then-Undersecretary of Defense (and now World Bank President) Paul Wolfowitz heaping praise on the Indonesian security forces for their response to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Aceh and North Sumatra, the Bush administration began shamelessly lobbying Congress to lift restrictions on military assistance for Indonesia early in the 2005 legislative process.

In her second month as Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice restarted full IMET military training for Indonesia, the prestigious military training program that Indonesia had sought but Congress denied for over a decade largely due to the horrendous rights record of the Indonesian military (TNI). Just two days after the release of IMET, the State Department in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices said, "Security force members murdered, tortured, raped, beat, and arbitrarily detained civilians and members of separatist movements, especially in Aceh and to a lesser extent in Papua."

In recent years, Congress had maintained only one condition restricting full IMET ó cooperation by Indonesian authorities with an FBI investigation into the 2002 ambush murders of two U.S. citizens and an Indonesian in West Papua. But cooperation by Indonesia has been spotty at best. The sole suspect indicted so far (by a U.S. grand jury) remains at large in Indonesia. His military connections, which appear to be extensive, have hardly been examined. Given this lack of progress, the State Departmentís certification of cooperation is false; it has far more to do with fulfilling the administrationís long-term goal of re-engagement with the TNI than with bringing to justice those responsible for the ambush or encouraging democratic reforms. Indeed, Indonesia has yet to fulfill previous conditions on IMET, including accountability for rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia and transparency in the military budget.

Members of Congress spoke out strongly against IMETís reinstatement. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called the move "premature and unfortunate," and Representatives Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and Christopher Smith (R-NJ) also objected.

With the start of spring, Congress began assembling key authorization and appropriations bills, accompanied by committee hearings. Indonesia human rights and ETAN activist Ed McWilliams testified before the House International Relations Committee in March on "Implications of Recent Indonesia Reform." ETAN helped organize a Human Rights Caucus briefing on human rights in tsunami-stricken Aceh.

Join ETANís National Call-In Days
Thursday, June 9 & Friday, June 10

Tell Congress You Oppose Aid to the Indonesian Military

The Pentagon and State Department want to remove all Congressional restrictions on military assistance to Indonesiaís brutal security forces. Senators and Representatives need to hear from you that this must not be allowed to happen, especially now as Congress makes crucial decisions on appropriations legislation.

Tell your Representative and Senators that:

  • Congress must fully restrict military assistance for Indonesia in the FY06 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. This includes IMET, foreign military financing, and export licenses for lethal defense articles. The Senator/Representative should actively support restrictions.

  • The Indonesian military continues to commit atrocious human rights violations, resist reform and evade accountability for crimes against humanity in East Timor and elsewhere. Prestigious U.S. assistance is not warranted.

Help set the context for our meetings during ETANís Advocacy Days by calling your Representative and Senators on June 9 and 10, just a few days prior to our in-person Congressional appointments.

The Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121, or check www.congress.org for contact information. Every call makes a difference, so please contact your members of Congress.

In response to IMET reinstatement, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) successfully amended the Foreign Affairs Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007, passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The amendment requires strict reporting by the Secretary of State on progress in the case of the West Papua ambush, including the status of cooperation between the Indonesian and U.S. governments, before FY06 IMET funds for Indonesia and any defense-related procurement can be released. The same bill also contains language inserted by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) calling for resolution of the decades-long conflict in Aceh.

Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) led 15 other senior members of Congress in March in a letter to Australiaís prime minister urging his government, "to move quickly and seriously to establish a fair, permanent maritime boundary with Timor-Leste," as the two countries prepared to resume negotiations on the issue. The Australian Embassy in Washington mounted a lobbying campaign in response to the letter. ETANís response to Australiaís arguments are available at www.etan.org/action/issues/tsea/plainfact.htm.

Also in March, Representative Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) led 36 members of the Congressional Black Caucus in sending a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan requesting a "review" of the fraudulent "Act of Free Choice," which resulted in Indonesiaís annexation of West Papua in 1969. In a separate letter, Faleomavaega and the Black Caucus urged Secretary Rice to oppose IMET.

Despite several yearsí worth of high priority effort, the Bush administration has failed to normalize relations with Indonesiaís security forces. Though, at least for now, Indonesia can get IMET, Congress still forbids foreign military financing and export of lethal defense articles for Indonesia. With your political and financial support, ETAN continues to fight for total restriction of military assistance. ETANís annual Advocacy Days are an important component of that fight. Join us in Washington, DC June 12-14 to meet with Representatives and Senators to educate Congress and move U.S. foreign policy in a more sane direction.