Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passes Ban on U.S. Military Ties
Urges Indonesia to Bring Militias and Military Under Control
For Immediate Release
September 27, 2000
Contact: Karen Orenstein, 202-544-6911
John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; 917-690-4391 (mobile); firstname.lastname@example.org
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today passed legislation which
bans all U.S. military assistance to Indonesia. The committee passed the
measure unanimously by voice vote. The bill now goes to the Senate floor.
The legislation, the East Timor
Repatriation and Security Act Of 2000 (S. 2621), bans military
cooperation with and assistance to the Indonesian armed forces until the
U.S. President certifies certain conditions have been met by the
Indonesian government and military, including the safe return of refugees
to East Timor and judicial accountability for military and militia members
responsible for human rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia. The
bill also requires Indonesia to demonstrate a commitment to prevent
militia incursions into East Timor and to not impede the UN administration
in East Timor.
"This bill prevents the U.S. from prematurely resuming military
ties with Indonesia. Its passage today adds to widespread international
pressure on Indonesia to rein in the militias and end the collusion
between the military and the militias it created," said Karen
Orenstein of the East Timor Action Network. "We join with the U.S.
Congress in urging the Indonesian government to live up to its own
promises to take action for peace, stability and justice for East
The law cites the September 6 killing of three
U.N. humanitarian workers (including a U.S. citizen) in West Timor by
militias, Indonesian armed forces training and support for the militias,
the deaths of two UN peacekeepers in East Timor in militia attacks, and
the murder of U.S. resident and human rights lawyer Jafar
Siddiq Hamzah in Medan, Indonesia, as reasons for the measure.
S. 2621 extends and expands current congressional restrictions passed
in November 1999 as part of the FY
2000 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. That legislation only
covers items such as International Military Education and Training (IMET)
and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) that must be renewed annually.
S. 2621 was introduced by Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) and
co-sponsored by nine others, including Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Harkin
(D-IA) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).
In September 1999, the U.S. suspended military ties and economic
assistance to Indonesia while the Indonesian military and its militias
were destroying East Timor following the August 30 independence vote. Soon
after, the Indonesian military began to withdraw from East Timor and an
international peacekeeping force entered.
Last spring, the U.S. military began a planned phased re-engagement
with its Indonesian counterparts. Indonesian officers took part as
observers in a U.S.-sponsored Cobra Gold military exercise in Thailand in
May. In July, a joint U.S.-Indonesian exercise called CARAT/2000, in which
the Indonesian navy and marines trained with their U.S. military
counterparts, took place in East Java.
Just prior to Secretary of Defense William Cohen's visit to Indonesia
on September 17 and 18, the Pentagon said it had
reinstated the U.S. suspension of military assistance to Indonesia.
A companion bill, The
Repatriation and Security Act of 2000 (HR 4357), was introduced
earlier this year in the House of Representatives by Jim McGovern (D-MA),
Chris Smith (R-NJ), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and others. HR 4357 currently
has 55 sponsors.
Copies of this and other related legislation can be found at http://www.etan.org/legislation.
The East Timor Action Network/ U.S. (ETAN) was founded in November 1991
to support East Timorese self-determination. ETAN supports human rights in
Indonesia and works for a peaceful transition to independence in East
Timor. It has 28 local chapters throughout the U.S.
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