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Senate Bans Sale of Small Arms to Indonesia

see also Feingold press release

Small arms ban amendment

The following appears in the Congressional Record for July 14, 1994, starting from page S9010 to S9021.

[None of it was actually said on the Senate floor. The two amendments mentioned were cited only by number, the reading of them was dispensed with by unanimous consent, and they were passed by unanimous consent on a voice vote.


(Purpose: To allocate funds for support of human rights and other nongovernmental organizations in Indonesia)

Mr. LEAHY offered amendment No. 2286 for Mr. WELLSTONE.

The amendment is as follows:

On page 112, between lines 9 and 10, insert the following new section: SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND OTHER NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN INDONESIA

SEC. Of the funds appropriated by this Act, $250,000 shall be made available to support nongovernmental human rights organizations in Indonesia, and $250,000 shall be made available to support nongovernmental environmental organizations to assess or otherwise address acute environmental problems, particularly those affecting indigenous people, in Indonesia.

Mr. WELLSTONE. Madam President, the amendment I am offering today is designed to provide modest but critical assistance to nongovernmental human rights and environmental organizations in Indonesia. I am particularly interested in ensuring that adequate funds be made available to organizations which monitor, and act to improve, humanitarian and environmental conditions in East Timor. I ask that Senators SIMON, PELL, and HARKIN be added as original cosponsors of the amendment. Late last month, the Senate voted remove a provision from this bill which would have prohibited the use of U.S. military equipment provided to the Government of Indonesia, from being used by Indonesian security forces in East Timor. Believe it or not, despite the Indonesian Government's abysmal human rights record, including persistent abuses by its security, forces against: innocent civilians, the Senate voted to remove this provision from the bill. This amendment, along with the one being offered by Senator LEAHY which I have cosponsored, will send a strong message to the Indonesian Government that they cannot continue to allow their security forces to abuse their people. The Leahy amendment, developed with the help of Senator FEINGOLD and others, codifies current United States policy prohibiting the sale or licensure for export of small arms and crowd control items, until the administration certifies to Congress that the Indonesians are: First, reducing their troop presence in East Timor; second, complying with human rights conditions; and, third, participating constructively in efforts at the United Nations to peacefully resolve the status of East Timor. I urge my colleagues to support it.

As I have said, my amendment is designed to send a strong signal of United States support for non-governmental organizations working to address the persistent problems of human rights abuses and environmental degradation in Indonesia, including East Timor. It provides $250,000 to non-governmental human rights organizations, and $250,000 to non-governmental environmental organizations, to support their important work.

I do not need to rehearse here the long and sad litany of human rights abuses in recent years by Indonesian security forces in East Timor. But I ask unanimous consent to have printed at the end of my statement a number of documents on human rights conditions there, including reports from today's newswires about the brutal beating of student protesters in Dili yesterday, and statements by Asia Watch on the incident and on human rights conditions in East Timor generally.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. (See Exhibit 1.)

Mr. WELLSTONE. The students involved in yesterday's incident were reportedly beaten mercilessly with clubs by security forces for exercising their right to peaceful political protest; one of the worst such violent incidents in almost 3 years. Ironically, this incident took place at the same time that the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on Torture and Arbitrary Killings is in East Timor to look into the follow-up investigation regarding those still missing after the 1991 massacre, and other killings, when one, might have expected the security forces to be on their best behavior. This modest amount of assistance, coupled with continuing political support from the United States and others, should be very helpful to the coalition of human rights, legal aid, and other organizations in Jakarta and elsewhere who are working to monitor and improve human rights conditions there. It is a concrete sign to them and others fighting for human-rights that they are not alone, and that the United States will not stand idly by while Indonesian security forces continue to abuse the East Timorese people.

The amendment provides $250,000 for assessment of acute and urgent environmental problems in Indonesia. The Indonesian Archipelago is one of the most biologically diverse and valuable regions on earth. It contains nearly 10 percent of the world's rain forests and almost 40 percent of the regional rain forests. And it is second only to Brazil in the rate of decline of such forests due to logging, agriculture, mining, and other commercial uses. Pristine rain forests unique in all the world and populated by indigenous peoples-such as the 350,000 square kilometer region known as Irian Jaya-are being ravaged by mining and logging interests. This funding is designed to complement existing efforts by non-governmental organizations to assess and address environmental degradation there. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment. I am grateful to the manager of the bill, Senator LEAHY, for agreeing to accept it. I urge its adoption.


[From Human Rights Watch]


(By Jeremy Wagstaff)

JAKARTA July 14 (Reuter). Indonesian security forces attacked student protesters in Dili on Thursday, beating demonstrators with clubs in the worst such incident in the troubled territory in nearly three years, residents said.

[This article has already been posted in reg.easttimor and will not be repeated here.]



Washington, DC, July 14,1994.


Human Rights Watch/Asia on Thursday called on the Indonesian government to allow unhindered access to East Timor by Indonesian nongovernmental human rights organizations and the international press to investigate today's violent dispersal of a protest march in Dili, East Timor, in which several people were injured and dozens arrested. The protest took place after an incident on the campus of the University of East Timor when, according to press reports, a group of students attacked three other students who had made insulting remarks to two Catholic nuns. Hundreds of students massed on the campus, planning to march to the office of the provincial parliament building, but they were intercepted by security forces who attacked the students with clubs.

"From the facts thus far available, it seems as though the response of the police and military, including the beating and arrest of so many students, was wholly disproportionate to the nature of the security problem they faced," said Sidney Jones, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch/ Asia. "Whatever the origins of the clash on campus, the students had a right to assemble peacefully and march to the parliament building, and it looks as though the military not only violated that right but did so with excessive use of force."

HRW/Asia said only a thorough investigation by respected human rights organizations such as the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI) and the Institute for Public and Social Advocacy (ELSAM) would enable the facts surrounding the incident to come to light. These NGOs would also be able to access the response of the security forces and the local government.

The incident took place a day after a discussion on East Timor at a meeting of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization. At that meeting, Human Rights Watch/Asia delivered a brief statement on the human rights situation in East Timor, the text of which follows:

The lengths to which the Indonesian government went to try and prevent the Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timor (APCET) from taking place in Manila from May 31 to June 2 reflect its efforts to control freedom of expression not only inside Indonesia, but beyond its own borders.


Despite the claims of Indonesian Foreign Minister in early May that he was inviting Amnesty International and Asia Watch (now Human Rights Watch/Asia) to visit East Timor, no human rights organizations have been given access since Asia Watch and the International Commission of Jurists were allowed to attend selected sessions of the Xanana Gusmao trial in March 1993. Human Rights Watch/Asia was explicitly refused permission to visit East Timor in June 1994.

France-Libertes, a human rights foundation headed by Mme. Danielle Mitterand, has also been refused access. One of the people invited to the Manila conference but subsequently denied a visa by the Philippines government (at Indonesia's request), Mme. Mitterand had asked the Indonesian government through private channels in September 1993 whether she and the Paris-based International League for Human Rights could visit East Timor; she was told that it was "not the right time" and to wait another six months. After six months, Frances Liberte made another request, this time not mentioning Mme. Mitterand's name. The request was turned down.

It is not only international human rights organizations that have difficulty getting to East Timor; some Indonesian human rights organizations do as well. In early May, a seminar on the topic of sustainable development and the environment was due to take place at the University of East Timor, cosponsored by a number of Indonesian NGOs including members of a coalition called the Joint Committee for the Defense of the East Timorese - (Komite Bersama Pembelaan Masyarakat Timor Timur.) The coalition includes some of Indonesia's most respected NGOs: the Legal Aid Institute (Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia); the Indonesian Council of Churches (Parpem Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja Indonesia or PGI); the Institute for Social Advocacy and Study (Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Masyarakat or ELSAM); and the Catholic organization, LPPS Caritas Katolik. A week before the seminar was to take place, the military commander for the region that includes East Timor called the university rector and told him the conference would have to be postponed. When it eventually did take place, the Indonesian NGOs were not permitted to attend, nor was Florentino Sarnmento of ETADEP, an East Timorese environmental NGO.


In short, Mr. Chairman, East Timor remains a troubled place where human rights abuses continue. Greater openness - defined as freedom for East Timorese to gather in private houses without permits and to freely express their own opinions, unhampered access by foreign journalists, less control over foreign visitors, and access by international human rights organizations - would almost certainly help prevent such abuses and ensure some form of redress for the victims. But if the last few months are any indication, the trend is not toward openness but the reverse. The closure on June 21 of three important news weeklies in Jakarta has implications for East Timor, because it suggests a desire to control information that the politically powerful find offensive. Restricting information prevents problems from being aired and solutions from being found on all fronts, not just human rights. For East Timor as well as Indonesia, that may prove very damaging.


[not included]

Mr. JOHNSTON. Madam President, 2 weeks ago, the Senate tabled a committee amendment by a vote of 59 to 35 which would have placed what I believe were unenforceable and mischievous conditions on the sale of military equipment (later revised to lethal military equipment) to Indonesia under the Foreign Military Sales Program. I believed then, and believe today, that the statutory language proposed would have had serious, unintended consequences on our important bilateral relationship with Indonesia. In my judgment, this restriction would have resulted in Indonesia seeking other suppliers for the military equipment they need, and would have lessened what influence we have with modernizing voices in Indonesia, ultimately undercutting our efforts to promote American values and principles, including regard and respect for human rights, in Indonesia. Further, in my view it would inevitably have spilled over into the commercial arena with unfortunate consequences for the reason that the United States Munitions List covers literally thousands of items, including spare parts, communications equipment, advanced computer technology, satellites and other items.

I again point out to my colleagues that this administration has undertaken a thorough review of our policy toward Indonesia during the past year. As a result, a comprehensive strategy has been developed to promote our Nation's vital security, political, human rights and economic interests with this key nation in Southeast Asia, the fourth largest country in the world which has worked cooperatively with the United States in promoting peaceful solutions to potentially dangerous problems in the Spratly Islands, in Cambodia and other UN peacekeeping operations, and in promoting nonproliferation.

This comprehensive policy was succinctly and eloquently stated in a letter written by the Secretary of State to Chairman LEAHY on June 29, 1994, which I inserted in the RECORD during debate on this issue 2 weeks ago. It is worth quoting this summary again:

The United States has important economic, commercial, security, human rights and political interests in Indonesia. Our challenge is to develop a policy that advances all our interests, that obtains positive results and reduces, to the extent possible, unintended negative effects.

Will this comprehensive policy of engagement on many fronts work to help us achieve our many objectives? I believe it will. To be sure there are some parts of it I would disagree with, and there, are other parts with which others will disagree. Overall, however, I believe the administration has tried to strike a balance which will keep us engaged with pro-western voices within the Indonesian military and in Indonesia.

It is my view that a stable, friendly Indonesia is in our Nation's best interest. One only has to look back 30 years to understand and appreciate the dangers to our Nation's interest of a return to instability and the politics of konfrontasi. Maintaining a friendly, stable Indonesia is even more important today, in the post cold war and post-Philippines era. We are facing many challenges in the Asian region. Indonesia has played and continues to play a key balancing role which is in our fundamental interest.

It is also my view that a stable, friendly Indonesia offers the best hope for achieving a better life for all the people of Indonesia. Stability and engagement with the west have in part set the stage for economic reform, which in turn has brought about important changes in Indonesia. The incidence of poverty for example has been reduced from 60 percent in 1970 to about 14 percent today, and the distribution of wealth in general is equivalent to that in the United States. Other strides have been made which have resulted in a better life for the men, women and children of Indonesia: education is now mandatory through nine grades, for females as well as males; since 1950 the literacy rate among adults has increased dramatically from below 20 percent to about 74 percent today; the incidence of maternal mortality and infant mortality have been greatly reduced; access to health care has improved dramatically for all income groups and throughout the nation; the average life span has been increased for men and for women. Widely recognized and lauded family planning programs have addressed the very serious population issues Indonesia faces, and Indonesia has become self-sufficient in the production of rice. All of these achievements and other have improved in dramatic and tangible ways the lives of Indonesian from all economic strata and in all geographic locations. In East Timor for example just 10 percent of the population was literate in 1975, when the Portuguese pulled out. There were only 50 schools and no colleges at that time. Today, East Timor has nearly 600 elementary schools, 90 middle schools and 3 colleges. In 1975 East Timor had only two hospitals and 14 health clinics; today there are 10 hospitals and 197 village health clinics. Interestingly, the number of Catholic churches has quadrupled since the Portuguese pulled out.

Since 1967, a foundation for social stability has been constructed and continues to be strengthened. To be sure, Indonesia continues to face many difficult challenges. Poverty has been greatly reduced, but 14 percent of the population - some 27 million people still live in poverty. Many of these people live in remote areas and have few skills; it will not be easy to reverse their situation and solutions will be long term. Indonesia also continues to face the inherent difficulty of uniting. over 200 different ethnic groups speaking some 300 languages and dialects in a nation of islands spread across over 3,000 miles of water. I understand the concerns in Indonesia about the potentially devastating impact of a return to instability, given the troubled history Indonesia had following independence in 1949, but I also believe the foundation which has been built over the past 25 years is stronger than many in Indonesia realize and that more openness will strengthen this foundation, not challenge it. As with all nations, including our own, for every step forward there have been occasional steps backward. The United States has and should continue to press for and encourage forward movement and should speak out when steps are taken backward. The comprehensive policy put forth by this Administration recognizes this. As Secretary Christopher put it in his June 29, 1994 letter to Chairman LEAHY:

This Administration is steadfastly pursuing the objective, shared with Congress, of promoting an improved human rights environment in East Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia. We are trying to pursue our agenda aggressively, working with Indonesians both inside and outside the Government, using our assistance, information, and exchange programs to achieve results. At the same time, we have raised our human rights concerns at the highest levels In meetings with Indonesian officials. As a direct expression of our concerns, our current policy is to deny license requests for sales of small and light arms and lethal crowd control items to Indonesia. In accordance with U.S. law, we make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, applying this general guidance. The State Department in conjunction with USAID has also tried to move aggressively to give support through our development assistance programs to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Indonesia, to support voices of pluralism and those who support change. My own view is that increased engagement in this manner will help promote the long term changes we all support and seek and in the end will lead to a more open, free and democratic system.

The challenge we face is articulating and steadfastly implementing a comprehensive policy which will encourage change, and result in more openness and respect for human rights, while maintaining a close and cooperative relationship with a stable and friendly Indonesia. We cannot achieve this by poking Indonesia in the eye, engaging in highly public debates in which Indonesia feels humiliated and subject to disrespect. We will achieve this through firm, steady and quiet diplomacy in which Indonesia is treated with the respect and dignity which is her due as an independent nation.

As I understand it, this amendment codifies part of our comprehensive policy toward Indonesia which was articulated in Secretary Christopher's letter of June 29, 1994. It will come as no surprise to my colleagues to learn that my preference is to have no statutory language. I do not think this is necessary, and I believe it could make it more difficult for the Administration to adjust to changed circumstances in the future. Nonetheless, since the Administration has apparently agreed to this language I will not take issue with it. I would point out however that this is only part of our policy and that my acquiescence is based on my belief that the Administration will continue to pursue a multifaceted policy which recognizes that our relationship with Indonesia is complex and based on many interests: security, economic, commercial and political. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the full text of Secretary Christopher's letter be printed in full at the end of my remarks. [It is in the record (for the third time), and is not repeated in this posting. See the posting of the record from June 29.]



Mr. LEAHY offered amendment No. 2288. The amendment is as follows: At the appropriate place in the bill, insert the following: INDONESIA

SEC. The United States should continue to refrain from selling or licensing for export to the Government of Indonesia defense articles such as small or light arms and crowd control items until the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that there has been significant progress made on human rights in East Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia, including in such areas as:

(1) complying-with the recommendations in the United Nations Special Rapporteur's January 1992 report and the March 1993 recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Commission; (2) significantly reducing Indonesia's troop presence in East Timor; and (3) participating constructively in the United Nations Secretary General's efforts to resolve the status of East Timor.

Mr. PELL. Madam President, I wish to support the amendment offered by Senator LEAHY on Indonesia and ask to be added as a cosponsor. His amendment is a welcome statement on the foreign aid bill, reiterating our policy of refusing to sell weapons to the Indonesian military that could be used to violate human rights.

Just today, we have learned new reasons for the wisdom of this policy and the reason for our need to watch closely and to be deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Indonesia.

Today at least 20 people were injured by the Indonesian military in East Timor as security forces used riot-sticks to break up a student, demonstration. The demonstration followed several recent incidents in which Indonesian soldiers were accused of insulting two Catholic nuns and abusing the sacrament while ostensibly taking communion in a Catholic church. On Tuesday the United States officially denounced Indonesia's arrest of 42 students on a hunger strike in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. The students were protesting last month's ban of three Indonesian news magazines. The United States Embassy stated "their detention while on the Legal Aid Foundation's private grounds makes the actions of the Indonesian authorities even more objectionable."

These arrests follow a pattern on recent government-sponsored violence against Indonesian labor and human rights activists.

In May 1993, a 25-year-old labor activist was raped and killed in East Java. Evidence linked her murder to the military. Last March the body of another labor organizer was found floating in a river. Again evidence linked his murder to the military.

Violence continues to be the main means by which the government control dissent. The most visible examples was in East Timor on November 21, 1991 (sic), when troops opened fire on a peaceful demonstrating protesting Indonesian occupation of East Timor. At least 100 and possibly as many as 250 killed. The number is imprecise because many disappeared during that massacre and remain unaccounted for.

In the Aceh region of Indonesia, an estimated 2,000 civilians have been killed by the military between 1989 to 1993 during its counter-insurgency campaign.

As Amnesty International notes in its 1994 annual report, President Suharto maintains a centralized and authoritarian government that exercises "strict and comprehensive controls on all aspects of social development and severe restrictions on civil and political rights."

This policy of strict control, I do not believe, can be long maintained in Indonesia. With its rapid economic growth, spreading middle-class, there are increasing demands within Indonesian society for change. We must demonstrate clearly that the United States supports the forces for democratic change in Indonesia and will not allow our economic, aid, or military interests with the Indonesian Government inhibit our support for such change.

This amendment demonstrates that our priority in Indonesia remains promoting human rights and building democracy.



Mr. JOHNSTON. Madam President, I rise to bring to the attention of the managers of this bill a very important proposal, endorsed as a high priority by the U.S. Agency for International Development's [USAID) mission as well as the American Ambassador to Indonesia, to provide funding in the amount of $5 million over the 1995 to 1998 period under the Public Law 480 title II program to develop a coffee and fishing marketing cooperative system on East Timor, in Aceh and in the eastern Indonesian islands. While I understand that funding for the Public Law 480 program is provided in the Agriculture and related Agencies appropriations bill, I believe it is important to raise this issue during consideration of this bill which funds USAID. Under the Food for Peace Act, USAID has the responsibility for sorting out the priorities for those few projects which will receive support under title II. Without the strong support of USAID, this project may well be passed over since there are many other worthy projects competing for a limited amount of resources.

The importance which our Jakarta USAID Mission accords this project was seen in the allocation of approximately $2 million in Development Assistance [DA] funds earlier this year to begin necessary planning and start up funds for it. Moreover, the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, Wendy Sherman, stated in a letter to me dated February 23, 1994, that our Jakarta USAID Mission and the United States Embassy in Jakarta: both believe this project "can potentially have a significant impact in East Timor and elsewhere. As you are aware, as part of our efforts to promote an improvement in the human rights situation in East Timor, we are working hard to expand USAID and USIS programs there; this project would be an excellent vehicle."

This project is designed to help raise the income of coffee and other farmers as well as fishermen on East Timor in particular. Roughly two- thirds of the population of East Timor is engaged in farming; half of these farmers are engaged in coffee production. Although the quality of the coffee grown on Timor is excellent, particularly the TimTim arabicas which account for about 70 percent of Timor's coffee production, coffee prices received by these farmers have been characterized as extremely low, well below half the FOB levels similar grades and qualities receive in Sulawesi, Java, Flores, and Sumatra.

Because of this history of low prices, production of coffee has decreased substantially and in too many cases, farmers are beginning to sell land, which will have a serious, adverse long-term impact on the economic prospect for this depressed area.

To be sure, part of the low prices farmers on Timor have received was attributable to the collapse of the international coffee marketing agreement.

But an even larger part is attributable to a lack of competition in marketing mechanisms.

This project is designed to bring competition to the now virtual marketing monopoly by developing and supporting a cooperative for the procurement and marketing of coffee, as well as supporting value added processing of the coffee crop aimed at penetrating the niche gourmet and organic markets. The latter seems particularly promising since for many years coffee production on East Timor has been largely pesticide-free.

Highly successful projects in developing cooperatives have been undertaken with USAID's support on Java and elsewhere, and have created about 14,000 jobs. It is very likely that similar successes could take place on East Timor with USAID's support.

It is urgent that the momentum begun with the initial funds provided by USAID be continued in fiscal year 1995 and beyond. Much effort has been made to gain approval and support for this project among farmers on East Timor and from the Government of Indonesia. Without a continuing commitment from the United States, however, this support could erode and we would lose the opportunity to make a significant and permanent improvement in the lives of many who live in East Timor.

I am told this project will only be funded if it receives a high priority from USAID and from the State Department because the demands are so great for this program. Already, 3 months before the fiscal year 1995 begins and allocations are made, USAID has some 60 applications for title II assistance on hand; undoubtedly, more will be filed between now and October. I urge those officials to review this proposal, and I hope they will look at it in the context of income levels and needs on East Timor which are in fact greater than those Indonesia-wide. I also hope that some consideration will be given to the need to strengthen NGOs in East Timor, which this project would do. If they concur with my assessment I hope they will communicate their support for it immediately to the team which is in the process of making the fiscal year 1995 Public Law 480 decisions. 


Mr. LEAHY. The Senator from Louisiana makes a good case for this project. Reviewing the information he has provided to me and to my staff, I believe this project has merit and I urge USAID to accord it serious consideration during the allocation decisions now being made under the Public Law 480, title II program.

There are many pressing cases competing with this proposal, from Asia and from other regions around the world, far more, than there are resources under the title II program to fund. In fact, I am told that approximately 60 applications totaling about $400 million are pending for the approximately $300 million which is available under this program, which was reauthorized in title XV of the 1990 Farm bill.

During the daunting task the administration will have as it sorts through these proposals, many of which are compelling and equally worthy, I hope the administration will give some weight to the particular policy considerations involved in this proposal. A goal all of us have shared with respect to our policy vis-a-vis East Timor has been to improve the lives of the people. This project offers real potential in this respect. 


Mr. McCONNELL. I too have reviewed the information the Senator from Louisiana has provided to me and to my staff on this project, and am pleased to join my colleague from Vermont In urging the U.S. Agency for International Development to accord it a high priority. USAID will play a key role in deciding which of the many proposals for title 11 funds are approved, so it is equally appropriate that this colloquy occur on this bill.

This project offers a positive approach to our policies affecting East Timor and one which would help in a concrete and immediate way a substantial part of the population. In addition to raising income, critically important in this very poor area, this proposal would also give skills needed by the people of East Timor to improve their economic situation. As the Senator from Vermont points out, these skills are transferable to other areas and hold out the promise of improving people's lives in other areas, too. This may be the most important and enduring part of the project and one which will reap benefits for many years. Therefore, I urge USAID to give some consideration to this feature of the proposal and hope it can be funded.


Mr. JOHNSTON. I appreciate very much the comments of my colleagues and hope this proposal will be given the support and priority it deserves this year. 


Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, two weeks ago, late in the night, the Senate voted on a provision regarding Indonesia. The provision was, to my mind, very simple and straightforward. ...

[Senator Feingold's speech to come.]


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