The following are full texts of some of the written material distributed at the press conference organized by ETAN in the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC on March 17, 1998. This press conference was twinned with one given by journalist Allan Nairn in Jakarta earlier the same day. Both dealt with the subject of the U.S. military training the Indonesian military on a wide-ranging set of military tactics over the past seven years, while Congress believed it had barred such training.
Written statement by Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-Rhode Island)
Member, Committee on National Security
I am deeply troubled by recent reports that the United States may have been involved in the training of KOPASSUS and other Indonesian military forces. It is widely recognized that the Indonesian Red Berets (KOPASSUS) are one of the most violent and ferocious military units in Indonesia. The fact that the United States military may be endorsing, or assisting these violators of human rights is a sign that the United States must reevaluate its policies towards Indonesia.
I met a victim of torture by KOPASSUS. On his birthday, he was arrested and tortured for over 24 hours and then was taken to the KOPASSUS headquarters and tortured for days on end. If the United States has ever taken part in these crimes and abuses, it must stop now. There is no excuse for the support of such torture. In a day where the Indonesian government is taking a large role in suppressing dissent and opposition, we need to be sure that our government is not furthering the suppression of freedom and democracy in Indonesia.
Written statement by Congressman Christopher H. Smith (R-New Jersey)
Chairman, Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights
The information recently released to the effect that the United States has been providing combat training to Indonesian military units under the "JCET" program is deeply disturbing. This appears to be a dramatic end run around the rules Congress has carefully prescribed for military training and education of Indonesian forces. These rules were set in the wake of the 1991 Dili massacre, in which Indonesian military units killed hundreds of people, many of them children in their Catholic school uniforms.
Year after year the Administration has assured Congress that the provision of "International Military Education and Training" to Indonesia is strictly limited to the so-called "expanded IMET" curriculum: classroom training in human rights and related subjects. We have also been assured that there is no way the Indonesian military could use any of this training against the people of East Timor or Irian Jaya, or against political or religious dissenters in Indonesia itself. To provide training in marksmanship, "psy ops" (psychological warfare), sniper training, and related subjects to some of the very units that have brutalized the people of East Timor is an obvious violation of this assurance.
This revelation is eerily reminiscent of a similar situation in Rwanda, where the United States has provided marksmanship, psy ops, and similar training to the Rwandan Patriotic Army through the JCET program during the very period in which the RPA appears to have been engaged in the mass killing of refugees across the border in Zaire. At a December 1996 hearing, I was assured that our assistance to the RPA consisted of what a Defense Department spokesman called the "kindler, gentler side" of military training, focused on respect for human rights. We found about the marksmanship or the psy ops eight months later. The Administration has still not been able to determine whether any of the soldiers who took our marksmanship course subsequently participated in the killing of refugees.
We need a simple and transparent set of rules to govern all our military education programs. The first rule should be that the United States does not give any kind of military assistance whatever to governments that murder their own people.
[Written statements from Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Lane Evans (D-Illinois) were also distributed . Ms. Pelosi also spoke at the press conference, describing how the State and Defense Departments had repeatedly misled her by implying that there was no U.S. training program for Indonesian soldiers other than IMET.]
Statement by Lynn Fredriksson, Washington Representative, East Timor Action Network
On November 12, 1991, the Indonesian military (ABRI) shot and killed over 270 unarmed demonstrators at the Santa Cruz Cemetery in Dili, East Timor. For 16 years the world's governments and press paid little or no attention to the genocide perpetrated against occupied East Timor, its 200,000 (a full third of the population) killed. American journalists Allan Nairn and Amy Goodman, who survived the massacre, brought this unimaginable story home, and soon the American public and the U.S. Congress found it too dire to ignore.
In 1992, Congress cut off Indonesia's International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. When in 1995 Congress partially restored IMET, it made its displeasure with the human rights conduct of Indonesia's military clear. Training was limited to so-called E-IMET, which purports to focus on human rights and civilian control of the military. But the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee received administration testimony in March 1997 revealing that the U.S. sold Indonesia direct military training without congressional notification or consent throughout 1996, despite Congress limiting assistance to non-military training. A number of Congresspeople, having fought long and hard to maintain the ban on IMET, were outraged.
What you will see here today is an even greater outrage. It is clearly unethical and clearly contravenes congressional intent to halt all direct-Indonesian military training. Recently acquired Pentagon documents show that since at least 1992, throughout the period of the IMET ban, the U.S. Army and Air Force have actively trained Indonesian military units from KOSTRAD (the Army Strategic Command) to KODAM JAYA (the Jakarta Area Military Command) to KOPASSUS (the elite Special Forces Command). U.S.
armed services have trained these Indonesian units, known for their egregious human rights violations, in Close Quarters Combat, Advanced Sniper Techniques, Demolitions & Air Operations, Marksmanship, Air Drop Operations, Mortar Training, Air Assault, PSYOPs, Special Reconnaissance, and Military Operations in Urban Terrain, among other distinctly combat-related courses. These training sessions have taken place, according to DoD documents released to Congressman Lane Evans, at least 36 times over extended periods since 1992. In addition, the U.S. Marine Corps has maintained training sessions of Indonesian Marines from 1993-1997 in Demolition, Parachute Operations, Raids, Surveillance, and Small Weapons Instructions.
In 1997 alone, the U.S. trained KOPASSUS Special Forces units no less than seven times. KOPASSUS is the most notoriously brutal unit in Indonesia and East Timor, responsible for sadistic torture, night raids, and frequent disappearances. Describing KOPASSUS and other ABRI atrocities, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported, "The pre-dawn raids amplify the terror and uncertainty among the population. Often, particular arrests are denied by the authorities the following day. The secretive nature of the Indonesian military leads families to expect the worst: torture followed by execution." Such occurrences are unbelievably commonplace in East Timor, as are beatings, rapes, arbitrary arrests, routine torture and extrajudicial executions.
When I was in East Timor in November of least year I witnessed the most severe repression I had ever seen; 40,000 troops control a population of only 800,000 Timorese. One high church official described KOPASSUS as a unit that regularly kidnaps, tortures, then kills young Timorese, leaving their mutilated bodies on the road to serve as examples to anyone who might defy Indonesian rule. It is most important for us to ask how our government can continue to train the military units responsible for this level of human rights abuses.
On November 12 of last year, I was the only foreigner present at a peaceful vigil as hundreds of university students commemorated the Dili massacre of 1991. For observing that vigil, Indonesian police arrested, interrogated, and detained me for 24 hours, then expelled me from the country. I had witnessed heavily armed ABRI forces with rifles trained on the peaceful students. Two days later ABRI returned to the university, shooting six students, arresting dozens, and disappearing three.
The implications of continued training of Indonesian military units by U.S. forces are especially disturbing when one considers the present situation in Indonesia. Faced with drought, near economic collapse and political corruption, the Indonesian people are reacting to massive loss of jobs, rising prices, deteriorating wages and food shortages. The Indonesian regime through ABRI has responded by increasing repression, upping the number of troops in Jakarta to over 35,000, arresting hundreds of protesters, disappearing pro-democracy leaders, and shooting rioters. Commanders have fruitlessly banned protest altogether in Jakarta and threatened violent response to all dissidence.
Continued U.S. training of KOPASSUS and other Indonesian units is tantamount to support for repression in Indonesia and the ongoing brutal 22-year occupation of East Timor. This training has avoided all transparency and accountability, it violates the will of the American people, it contravenes congressional intents to ban direct military training to the Indonesian regime, and it directly aids human rights violators.
The East Timor Action Network a grassroots organization working for human rights and self-determination in East Timor, along with Global Exchange, a non-profit research, education and action center, and Justice for All, a grassroots human rights group, applaud the release of these Pentagon documents. Together we call for full public disclosure of past and current U.S. military training; a ban on all remaining military training to Indonesia, including the JCET program; and Indonesian military accountability based in part on a permanent international monitoring presence in East Timor. As national human rights organizations, we intend to work see that this happens.
Statement of Congressman Lane Evans (D-IL) on Indonesian Special Forces and JCET
March 17, 1998
I appreciate Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre's response to the inquiry I made last year, requesting a detailed account of the Indonesian Special Forces or Kopassus' training by the U.S. military.
However, I am gravely concerned with the information that was provided to me.
In 1992, Congress banned all International Military and Education Training (IMET) for Indonesia under the FY 1993 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. This action came as a result of what has come to be known as the Dili Massacre, the Indonesian military's brutal response to a student demonstration in 1991, in which over 270 East Timorese were killed.
I am satisfied with the information provided to me regarding details of the discontinued IMET training. But I am deeply troubled by the Indonesian military's participation in another program - Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET). While I recognize that Indonesia's participation in the JCET program is in compliance with U.S. law, I do not support any training of the Indonesian military by U.S. armed services. It is clear to me that Indonesia's participation in JCET is the Pentagon's loophole to the ban on IMET. JCET is another way the Pentagon can assist Suharto and his soldiers in suppressing their opposition.
As we speak, the United States is supporting a military infamous for its brutal human rights abuses and subjugation of the East Timorese people. I am curious to know why U.S. taxpayer dollars are being wasted on aiding and abetting a ruthless military organization in committing gross atrocities. In response to Deputy Secretary Hamre's letter, I will issue an additional request to provide more specific information on Indonesian forces' training under JCET, including the names, ranks and service records of the participating soldiers. I am particularly interested in those who are in the Indonesian Special Forces units - who are most notorious for their harshness and repression. Most important, I would like to know the source of funding for the JCET program. This information will greatly assist Congress in putting an end to all U.S. government assistance to the Indonesian military both donated and sold.
POLITICS-US: Lawmakers Protest Indonesian Army Training
By Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON, Mar 18 1998 (IPS) - A bipartisan group of US lawmakers is opposing Pentagon support for the Indonesian military which it says violates the spirit of a 1992 ban enacted by Congress on Jakarta’s participation in Washington’s major military training programme.
The politicians say the US Army and Air Force, using a different and much less well-known programme, have been training key Indonesian military units – including some with notorious human rights records – since the ban took effect.
The administration, however, is defending its actions, insisting that the training was legal and that increasing US military engagement with Indonesia serves Washington’s national interests. “These joint exercises enhance American military readiness and increase US engagement with an important country,” says State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin.
The controversy has surfaced at a critical moment in Indonesia where President Suharto, re-elected by his hand-picked parliament to a seventh five-year term, faces an unprecedented economic crisis touched off by last year’s collapse of the country’s currency, the rupiah.
The Indonesian leader is now engaged in a tense standoff with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is offering billions of dollars in bailout money, over whether he will follow through on a major economic reform programme which could threaten the fortunes of his family and close business associates.
Indonesia’s economy, meanwhile, has ground to a virtual halt and millions of workers have lost their jobs since the rupiah began its plunge six months ago. Sharp increases in food prices, exacerbated by an El Nino-caused drought that has set back rice production, have spurred rioting in some parts of what is the world’s fourth most populous country.
Students, traditionally in the vanguard of change in Indonesia, also have become increasingly active in opposing the regime. Protests in recent weeks have moved from the campus into the streets where they have gained the support of leaders of non- governmental organisations and even some retired military officers.
In this context, Asian analysts here are paying close attention to the powerful Indonesian military, called ABRI, which has dominated the political life of the country for more than a generation and has been called upon to enforce security during the crisis. US Secretary of Defence William Cohen visited Indonesia in January to assess the situation himself.
“The army is the only institution which operates with at least minimum consistency,” notes Prof. Dan Lev, an Indonesia expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. While the army is deeply split, according to Lev, “Suharto has been very astute in balancing out different factions.”
The United States has enjoyed a particularly close relationship with Indonesia’s military since the mid-1960s. During the Cold War, it was seen as a bulwark against Communist expansion in Southeast Asia as well as a guarantor of access through the world’s most strategic sea lanes. In addition to providing Indonesia with most of its military equipment, Washington provided millions of dollars in training over the years through its International Military and Education Training programme (IMET).
But after a Nov. 1991 army massacre of more than 200 unarmed civilians in East Timor, which Indonesia invaded in 1975 and later annexed, Congress moved to distance Washington from the Indonesian military.Over strong objections by the administration of president George Bush, it enacted a ban on Indonesia’s participation in IMET programmes.
Under pressure from the Clinton administration, Congress agreed in 1995 to permit Indonesia military officers to participate in an “expanded IMET programme” in which training was to be limited to human rights and civilian control.
According to documents obtained by some lawmakers, and published in The Nation magazine this week, the Pentagon used another little-known programme – known as Joint Combined Exchange and Training (J-Cet) – to continue training Indonesian soldiers.
Training has been quite extensive and included lethal tactics, such as “close quarters combat, sniper techniques, demolitions, mortar training, psychological operations and “military operations in urban terrain,” according to the Pentagon documents which detail 36 exercises involving fully armed US combat troops flying or sailing into Indonesia in the five years between Aug. 1992 and Sep. 1997.
“It is clear to me that Indonesia’ participation in JCET is the Pentagon’s loophole to the ban on IMET. JCET is another way the Pentagon can assist Suharto and his soldiers in suppressing their opposition,” said Republican Rep. Lane Evans, who added at a news conference Tuesday that he will press the Pentagon for an accounting of how the programme is funded.
Especially troublesome to critics is the disproportionate participation of Indonesia’s Special Forces Command (KOPASSUS) in the JCET programmes. KOPASSUS units, which have been accused by international human rights groups of torture and murder, took part in 20 of the 36 training exercises.
“It is widely recognised that the Indonesian Red Berets (KOPASSUS) are one of the most violent and ferocious military units in Indonesia,” said Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, one of the few U.S. officials who have visited East Timor. “The fact that the US military may be assisting these violators of human rights is a sign that the United States must re-evaluate its policies towards Indonesia.”
Allan Nairn, the Nation reporter who exposed the Pentagon documents, suggests that Washington’s focus on KOPASSUS may have political implications because its most recent commander, Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto, is Suharto’s son-in-law.
Prabowo recently took command of the strategic reserve forces in Jakarta, and with KOPASSUS forces already deployed to the capital, will be most directly responsible for keeping order there during the ongoing crisis, according to Lev.
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