Feingold Amendment Passes Committee
Senate Foreign Relations Committee ties human rights in East Timor to arms sales to Indonesia.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bob Decheine (202)224-5323
SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ADOPTS FEINGOLD PROPOSAL TO LINK ARMS SALES TO INDONESIA TO HUMAN RIGHTS IMPROVEMENTS
(Washington, D.C.) -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously today to adopt a proposal by Sen. Russ Feingold, (D-WI) to link U.S. arms sales to Indonesia to improvements in the human rights situation in occupied East Timor.
"When this provision passes Congress and is signed into law by the President, it will mark a historic turning point in the conduct of United States foreign policy," said Feingold. "We will be drawing a direct policy link between U.S. sanctioned arms sales and human rights violations."
Feingold's provision was supported by Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Wisconsin Democrat had earlier convinced the Administration to disapprove a proposed transfer of American built F-5E fighter bombers from Jordan to Indonesia.
"Indonesia has been engaged in a campaign of systematic oppression in the occupied island nation of East Timor since 1975. In November of 1991, Indonesian security forces conducted a massacre of civilian demonstrators that resulted in at least 100 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The full extent of this massacre and the ongoing Indonesian oppression of East Timor is not fully known because the Indonesian government has not properly investigated this incident. Furthermore, it has refused access to East Timor to international humanitarian organizations and human rights groups," said Feingold.
"Hopefully this action will serve notice to the government of Indonesia that the United States will not tolerate and will not assist the kind of human rights violations being perpetrated in East Timor," said Feingold.
Feingold's amendment lays out six specific criteria that must he considered by the President in consultation with the Congress prior to the approval of any arms sale or transfer. Those criteria are: (see text of the amendment)
Section ___. Arms Sales to Indonesia
(a) Prior to approval of the sale or transfer of defense articles, defense services, or design and construction services under the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq) for which a numbered certification is required under Section 36(b) of that Act, to the Government of Indonesia or to issuance of licenses with respect to the commercial sale of major defense articles or defense services which fall within the scope of Section 36(c)(1) of the Act to such Government, the President shall consult with the Congress and make a determination as to whether there have been improvements in the human rights situation in East Timor.
(b) In making this determination, the President shall carefully consider
-- whether the civilians convicted in connection with the November 1991 East Timor incident have been treated in accordance with international standards of fairness, including whether the Indonesian Government has reviewed the sentences of these individuals for the purpose of their commutation, reduction or remission;
-- whether the Indonesian Government is taking steps to curb human rights violations by its security forces, including that all military personnel who were responsible for ordering, authorizing or initiating the use of lethal force against demonstrators in East Timor in November 1991, are being brought to justice;
-- whether there has been a full public accounting of the individuals missing after the November 1991 incident;
-- whether international humanitarian organizations, human rights groups and others have been granted expanded access to East Timor;
-- whether the Indonesian Government has implemented stated plans to decrease the military presence on East Timor;
-- whether the Indonesian Government is cooperating constructively with the United Nations Secretary General's efforts to promote dialogue between Indonesia and Portugal to resolve issues concerning East Timor.
To better understand the implications of the Feignold amendment I tacked down the sections and definitions in the Arms Export Control Act (PL90-629)
The Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq) requires certification under Section 36(b) for "any defense articles or services ... for $50,000,000 or more, any design and construction services for $200,000,000 or more or any major defense equipment for $14,000,000 or more.
Major defense articles or defense services which fall within the scope of Section 36(c)(1) of the Act are defined as "any major defense equipment sold under a contract in the amount of $14,000,000 or more or of defense articles or defense services sold under a contract in the amount of $50,000,000 or more"
Section 47 (3) defines "defense article" as (A) any weapon, weapons system,, munition, aircraft vessel, boat, or other instrument of war (B) any property, installation, commodity, material, equipment, supply, or goods used for the purposes of making military sales, (C) any machinery, facility, tool, material, supply, or other item necessary for the manufacture, production, processing, repair, servicing, storage, construction, transportation, operation, or use of any article listed in this paragraph, and (D) any component of part of any articles listed in this paragraph,...
"defense service" is defined in 47(4) as "includ[ing] any service, test, inspection, repair, training, publication, technical or other assistance, or defense information (as defined in section 644(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) used for the purposes of making military sales but does not include design and construction services under section 29 of this Act;
"major defense equipment" is defined in 47(6) as meaning "any item of significant military equipment on the United States Munitions List have a nonrecurring research and development cost of more than $50,000,000 or a total production cost of more than $200,000,000;
TIMOR REBELS HAIL U.S. SENATE VOTE AGAINST INDONESIA
Reuters wire, full text.
Sydney, Sept. 9 (Reuter) Timorese rebels on Thursday praised a U.S. Senate committee vote linking arms sales to Indonesia to an improvement in Jakarta's (unreadable) in East Timor.
Margherita Tracanelli of the National Council of Maubere Resistance, the rebel umbrella group based in Australia, said the vote was a sign of firmer support in the U.S. government for a solution to the issue of East Timor.
"The international tide is turning against Indonesia on the issue of East Timor," Tracanelli said.
"The unprecedented support we have in the U.S. Congress reflects the fact that, at the end of the Cold War, Indonesia cannot hide behind an anti-communist stance while it continues to perpetrate human rights abuses,'' Tracanelli said.
The amendment to a foreign aid bill, adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, requires the U.S. president to consider human rights criteria alongside Congress before any arms sale or transfer to Indonesia can be approved.
These include considering whether the Indonesian government is curbing abuses by security forces and bringing to justice ''all military personnel who were responsible for ordering, authorizing or initiating use of force against demonstrators in East Timor."
It rejects Indonesian claims that only low level forces were responsible for a massacre of civilians in East Timor's capital of Dili in November 1991, when up to 180 Timorese were killed.
The legislation also ties approval of any military sales to a full public accounting of people missing after the incident and to a review of the sentences meted out to the Timorese for taking part in the march which triggered the shootings.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year, a move not recognised by the United Nations.
Note: For those without a fax application on their computer - CallCenter V3.5.8, is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from http://www.v3inc.com/