|see news report
on military exercise plan
U.S. State Dept. Briefing on military ties
ETAN on Voice of America
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; email@example.com
East Timor Action Network Opposes Any Resumption of Military Ties with Indonesia
The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today called on the U.S. government to cancel plans to conduct a joint military exercise with the Indonesian military (TNI) this summer. This training is part of a proposed program to gradually restore military relations frozen since early September, when Indonesian troops rampaged through East Timor.
"The administration says it must reward TNI for modest reforms imposed on it by popular opposition in Indonesia. But the suspension of U.S.-Indonesia military ties has helped the Indonesian government make progress in bringing its military under control. Resuming military cooperation now will only hurt efforts to get the armed forces out of politics," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for the ETAN.
"Any resumption of military engagement sends a signal to the Indonesian armed forces that the U.S. government believes they have been rehabilitated, legitimizing the human rights abuses and terror tactics they continue to practice in Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere in Indonesia. Militias with TNI support continue to harass East Timorese refugees in West Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia. Prosecutions of human rights abuses in East Timor and elsewhere are moving slowly and military investigators are playing a prominent role in what are supposed to be civilian investigations. Indonesia's human rights law remains stalled in parliament," said Miller.
"We are working with members of Congress and others to make sure that U.S.-Indonesian relations promote human rights and democracy rather than return to old habits of coddling a military whose commitment to reform is tenuous at best. In the past, whenever Congress or the administration has blocked military training or certain weapons transfers the Indonesian military has taken notice. Each time the U.S. has moved to resume or reinforce military ties, TNI has taken it as approval for business as usual, not as a reward for any reforms or good behavior," said Miller.
"The Clinton administration is focusing first on the navy and air force, arguing that their human rights records are better than the army's. But air force planes and navy ships were integral to the massive, well-planned Indonesian military and militia operation which systematically destroyed and looted East Timor and forcibly transported a third of the population out of the territory following its pro-independence vote," he added.
The administration is planning to stage a CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) military exercise with the TNI next July or August. CARAT is a large-scale, high prestige exercise involving navy, marines, and air force that stages simulated amphibious invasions of Indonesian islands. Previous CARATs, including one held last August just before the East Timor vote, have included patrolling, live fire training, and raids. Some Indonesian officers went directly from last August's CARAT to East Timor and participated in the worst violence there.
Journalist Allan Nairn, speaking before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights, May 11, said "One of these officers, Lt. Col. (later Col.) Willem, helped coordinate the Indonesian naval forces in CARAT and then went to Dili where he served as a senior official in KOREM military headquarters, the very base from which the Aitarak militias staged their terror raids during late September. I saw this first hand since I was a prisoner in KOREM and was interrogated by Col. Willem." Willem has since been promoted to head the personal staff of Admiral Widodo, the national TNI commander.
On September 9, President Clinton suspended all U.S. ties with Indonesia. Soon after, the Indonesian military began to pull out of East Timor and Indonesia gave permission for an international peacekeeping force to enter the territory.
Late last year Congress put part of this ban into law. The FY 2000 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act stipulates conditions which must be met before normal military ties can be restored. These include refugee return to East Timor and accountability for military and militia members responsible for human rights atrocities in East Timor and Indonesia. They also require Indonesia to actively prevent militia incursions into East Timor and to cooperate fully with the UN administration in East Timor.
The Repatriation and Security Act of 2000 (HR 4357) recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Jim McGovern (D-MA), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and others, would prohibit relations and assistance to the armed forces of Indonesia until the Indonesian government provides for the territorial integrity of East Timor, the security and safe return of refugees, and prosecution of those individuals responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor and elsewhere. A similar bill is expected in the Senate.
The 1998 CARAT was cancelled after the congressional uproar over JCET (Joint Combined Exchange Training), the program under which the U.S. taught urban warfare and sniper technique in circumvention of the congressional ban on U.S. military training for Indonesia.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. founded following the November 1991 massacre supports a genuine and peaceful transition to an independent East Timor. ETAN has 28 local chapters throughout the U.S.see also ETAN, NGOs write Albright on military ties to Indonesia (March 2000)
INTRO: U-S officials say the Pentagon is making small, cautious steps toward renewing relations with Indonesia's military. All military ties between Washington and Jakarta were severed eight months ago, following massacres in East Timor that left hundreds of people dead. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports, human rights groups say it is too soon for Washington to resume relations with Indonesia's forces.
TEXT: A Pentagon official calls the process `phased reengagement' and says the slight thaw in relations follows improvements in Indonesia's human rights practices.
The first step was an invitation to 10 Indonesian Air Force officers to observe U-S, Thai and other forces in a major military exercise in Thailand last month.
In July, a larger number of Indonesian personnel will join - not just watch - a large exercise in South East Asia with U-S troops.
State Department spokesman Phil Reeker says the Indonesian government is working to establish civilian control of the military and hold top officers accountable for human rights abuses in East Timor.
After the province voted for independence from Indonesia last September, Army units were blamed for allowing -- and even encouraging -- armed groups to attack independence supporters and burn their homes.
After taking office late last year, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid fired powerful Armed Forces Chief, General Wiranto, who is now under investigation.
But human rights activists, including John Miller of the East Timor Action Network say that's not enough.
/// Miller act ///
Every time the U-S moves to reward, and that's how the Indonesian military sees it, reward the Indonesian military, they take it as a signal to continue their human rights abuses.
/// end act ///
Mr. Miller says he welcomes the improved human rights climate in Indonesia, but says most of the conditions that prompted Washington cut ties have not changed.
/// Miller act ///
Refugees (from East Timor) are still lingering in West Timor, there are still threats along the border. Human rights abuses by the Indonesian military continue, throughout Indonesia, and the Indonesian military remains heavily involved in politics.
/// end act ///
Mr. Miller says a bill to block renewed ties is pending in the U-S Congress, and a similar measure will be introduced soon in the U-S Senate.
May 25, 2000 Thursday
U.S. SENATOR, NGOS OPPOSE RESUMED MILY TIES WITH RI
New York, May 25
A US senator and several non-governmental organizations have opposed the US government's decision to resume military contacts with Indonesia, asking a delay in the normalization of military ties until all Indonesian military officers allegedly involved in the East Timor violence are put on trial.
The US State Department on Wednesday announced the resumption of military contacts with Indonesia after an eight-month suspension of military ties over the violence that erupted in East Timor last year after the territory chose to separate from Indonesia.
Senator Russell Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, said he would propose to the US Congress to extend the freeze in military relations with Indonesia, until all Indonesian military officers allegedly involved in the violence are tried.
Some 29 human rights organizations have also written a letter to State Secretary Madeleine Albright.
John M Miller, spokesman of one of these organizations, the East Timor Action Network (ETAN), told ANTARA here Wednesday evening that he believes the suspension of US military aid to Indonesia has been effective in helping the Indonesian government control its military.
The resumption of military contacts, he said, would only damage efforts to pull the Indonesian military out of the country's political arena.
Miller noted that in the letter to Albright, ETAN asked the government to extend the suspension of military aid to Indonesia until reforms within the Indonesian military are fulfilled, the officers implicated in the East Timor violence are tried, and Indonesia's elite force, Kopassus, and the Military Intelligence Agency (BIA) are dissolved.
Michael Jendrzejczyk of Human Rights Watch, another organization which signed the letter to Albright, said it is too early for the Pentagon to recommence military relations with the Indonesian military.
While acknowledging US interests in supporting democratic reforms in Indonesia, he said the Clinton government has made a mistake by resuming the contacts.
"This is a careful balancing act... This is one area where I think the administration is making a mistake," Jendrzejczyk was quoted by Reuters as saying.
ETAN's Miller further said that the restoration of military relations gives a sign that the US government believes that the Indonesian military has made reforms and that it legitimizes human rights violations in Aceh, Papua and other Indonesian territories.
He said ETAN will cooperate with the US Congress to ensure that the restored military relations between the US and Indonesia boost the upholding of human rights and democracy, instead of turning back to the old habit, which spoils the Indonesian military, whose commitment toward reforms he described as very weak.
However, the White House has said that the recommenced military ties with Indonesia aims to speed the reform process in Indonesia, especially in the military.
Despite the opposition, the Clinton administration seems bent to continue its plan to conduct military training with Indonesia.
White House National Security Council spokesman, PJ Crowley, said the US government has worked with the Congress on Indonesia.
"We have consulted closely with (Capitol) Hill on the approach to Indonesia, most recently on extending invitations to these (military) exercises," he told Reuters.
For the first stage, Pentagon will only reopen ties with the Indonesian Air Force and Navy.
Below: slides from a Presentation by Admiral Archie Clemins, U.S. Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet to the Indonesian Command & Staff College and the Indonesian Naval Academy in Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday, July 13 and Wednesday, July 14, 1999.