etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer Evans on International Military Training Transparency & Accountability Act

HON. LANE EVANS in the House of Representatives
March 10,1999

Mr. Speaker, today, with the leadership of Congressman Christopher Smith and the bipartisan support of 48 of my colleagues, I sponsored the International Military Training Transparency and Accountability Act. This legislation will ensure that the United States armed forces ceases to assist foreign militaries that do not share our respect for human rights.

Specifically, the bill prohibits the U.S. from providing military services or training to countries that are restricted by U.S. law from receiving International Military Education and Training (IMET) or other military assistance because of their strong record of human rights violations. This bill will also ensure that the Department of Defense cannot circumvent Congressional intent and find other methods in which to engage with foreign militaries that are notorious human rights abusers.

The Pentagon's relationship with the Indonesian military in recent years demonstrates the urgency and necessity of this legislation. In 1992, Congress banned U.S. taxpayer funded IMET training in the wake of the brutal Dili massacre, where over 270 peaceful demonstrators were shot down in an East Timor cemetery. This ban was enacted in an attempt to put an end to the egregious human rights abuses the Indonesian government committed against its own people and the people of East Timor .

Since 1975, the Indonesian government has engaged in a reign of terror in East Timor , implementing a policy of severe repression of the Timorese people. Since the onset of the occupation, over 200,000--one-third of the original population--have perished. Extra-judicial killings, kidnappings, tortures and imprisonments have become a way of life for those who challenge the authoritarian regime.

In 1997, I wrote Secretary of Defense William Cohen, requesting detailed information on the training of members of the Kopsassus, the elite, special forces division of the Indonesian military. The Kopassus is infamous for its role as the ruthless enforcer of Indonesian's illegal occupation of East Timor . Shortly thereafter, I received a response from the Pentagon describing the United States' continued training of the Indonesian military under another program--the Joint Combined Exchange and Training (JCET) program. While the JCET program is legal, it violated the spirit of Congressional efforts to ban any military assistance to the notoriously brutal and repressive Indonesian armed forces.

Under the auspices of the JCET program, U.S. Special Operations forces trained the Kopassus in sniper skills, marksmanship, and close quarter combat, all while the Kopassus continued to repress and terrorize the people of East Timor . In Spring, 1998, the Pentagon announced it would cease its military relationship with Indonesian indefinitely. Yet, the Pentagon's decision to end military exercises with the Indonesian forces should not have come voluntarily. It should be illegal for our armed services to engage in any manner with known human rights violators.

More important, this legislation will limit U.S. assistance to egregious violators of human rights. In Latin America, and in Africa--the U.S. continues to train and engage with forces that are well-known for their disregard for basic human dignity. The International Military Training Transparency and Accountability Act will clarify our stance on engagement with brutal military forces. We have a responsibility to ensure that our national security policy embodies the very democratic principles it seeks to defend.