U.S. House Comm. supports rights in Timor & Indonesia
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ETAN/IHRN Media Release

House International Relations Committee Expresses Strong Support for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution in Indonesia and East Timor

Criticizes Indonesian Justice Efforts; Calls for Alternatives

For Immediate Release

Contact: Karen Orenstein, 202-544-6911 
Kurt Biddle, 510-559-7762 
John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; 917-690-4391

May 8, 2003 -- The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) and Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) today praised the House International Relations Committee for its strong support for justice in East Timor and Indonesia and peaceful resolution of conflict in Indonesia. The committee expressed grave concern for serious rights violations committed by Indonesian security force members.

“We deeply appreciate the commitment to human rights and justice for the people of East Timor and Indonesia demonstrated by the House International Relations Committee in the Foreign Relations Authorization bill,” said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator for ETAN.

In the bill, H.R. 1950, the House committee calls "justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor... crucial for peace, reconciliation, and the ongoing nation-building process in East Timor and Indonesia."

Noting that the Indonesian human rights court on East Timor lacks the will and the new nation's courts lack the ability to achieve real justice for serious crimes committed during Indonesia’s occupation, the committee "urges the State Department to consider alternative mechanisms of justice for East Timor, including the establishment of an ad hoc international tribunal."

The bill expresses "grave concern that members of the Indonesian security forces... continue to commit many serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arbitrary detention, particularly in areas of conflict." The committee expresses support for peace initiatives in Aceh and Papua.

"The committee's criticisms of the Indonesian security forces are amply justified. The military and police continue to be the major obstacles to democratic reform and peace throughout the Indonesian archipelago," said Kurt Biddle of IHRN.

The bipartisan bill criticizes "the Indonesian military's resistance to civilian control and oversight, its lack of budgetary transparency, and its continuing emphasis on internal security within Indonesia."

The bill notes that the August 31, 2002 murder of three people (including two U.S. citizens) in the Indonesian province of Papua "appears likely to have been perpetrated at least in part by members of the Indonesian military." It goes on to call for "full, active, and unfettered cooperation with the investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

The legislation presses "the Indonesian Government to fully cooperate with the joint United Nations-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) and encourages the United States to urge the Indonesian Government to fully cooperate with the SCU." The SCU recently indicted a number of high-ranking Indonesian officials for their role in organizing violence surrounding East Timor's independence vote in 1999. Indonesia has refused to extradite anyone to East Timor to stand trial.

The bill authorizes annual appropriations of $25 million in bilateral assistance for East Timor for the next two years. A successful amendment offered by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) provides for up to $1 million in scholarships for East Timorese to study in the U.S.

The bill also "encourages the Government of Indonesia to expedite the reunification of separated East Timorese children with their families."

IHRN is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to educate and activate the American public and influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability and rule of law in Indonesia. For more information, see www.indonesianetwork.org.

ETAN supports human dignity for the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, economic justice and human rights, including women's rights. For more information, see www.etan.org.

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108th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 1950

To authorize appropriations for the Department of State for the fiscal years 2004 and 2005, to authorize appropriations under the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 for security assistance for fiscal years 2004 and 2005, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 5, 2003

Mr. HYDE (for himself, Mr. LANTOS, and Mr. BERMAN) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations

A BILL

To authorize appropriations for the Department of State for the fiscal years 2004 and 2005, to authorize appropriations under the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 for security assistance for fiscal years 2004 and 2005, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005'.

SEC. 721. SENSE OF CONGRESS RELATING TO EAST TIMOR, JUSTICE, AND REHABILITATION.

The Congress--

(1) recalls that the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry concluded in January 2000 that `the Indonesian Army was responsible for the intimidation, terror, killings and other acts of violence' during East Timor's vote for independence in 1999;
(2) reiterates that justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor during the vote for independence in 1999 is crucial for peace, reconciliation, and the ongoing nation-building process in East Timor and Indonesia;
(3) finds that the ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor established by the Indonesian Government in 2001 has inadequately brought to justice the perpetrators of these crimes as eleven of fourteen defendants have been acquitted as a result of poor indictments and the absence of an adequate witness protection program, and four of the five sentences imposed have been less than the minimum allowed under the Indonesian Human Rights Law;
(4) supports the work of the Joint United Nations-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit (SCU), which filed indictments against high-ranking Indonesian officers who were allegedly involved in the crimes, including Gen. Wiranto, Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, Col. Suratman, Col. Noer Muis, Col. Yayat Sudrajat and former Governor Abilio Soares, and expresses its strong disappointment that the Indonesian Government has stated its intention to ignore the indictments;
(5) calls on the State Department and the United States Mission to the United Nations to push for a comprehensive United Nations review of the Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor, including a review of the conduct of trials, the indictment strategy by the prosecutors and its adherence to the international standards, and urges the State Department to consider alternative mechanisms of justice for East Timor, including the establishment of an ad hoc international tribunal; and
(6) urges the Indonesian Government to fully cooperate with the joint United Nations-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) and encourages the United States to urge the Indonesian Government to fully cooperate with the SCU.

SEC. 722. SENSE OF CONGRESS CONCERNING HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE IN INDONESIA.

The Congress--/

(1) notes with grave concern that members of the Indonesian security forces, particularly the Army Special Forces (Kopassus) and the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob), continue to commit many serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arbitrary detention, particularly in areas of conflict such as Aceh, Papua, the Moluccas, and Central Sulawesi;
(2) notes with grave concern that the Government of Indonesia largely fails to hold soldiers and police accountable for extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights abuses, both past and present;
(3) condemns the intimidation and harassment of human rights and civil society organizations and activists by members of Indonesian security forces and by military-backed militia groups, particularly in Aceh and Papua;
(4) notes with concern the Indonesian military's resistance to civilian control and oversight, its lack of budgetary transparency, and its continuing emphasis on internal security within Indonesia;
(5) urges the Indonesian government and military to provide full, active, and unfettered cooperation with the investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States Department of Justice into the August 31, 2002 attack near Timika, Papua, which killed three people (including two Americans, Rick Spier and Ted Burgon), and injured 12 others, and which appears likely to have been perpetrated at least in part by members of the Indonesian military;
(6) commends the December 2002 signing of the Framework Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities in Aceh, but condemns the recent outbreaks of violence and militia activity that appear calculated to subvert that cease-fire agreement;
(7) notes with grave concern the continued detention of Muhammad Nazar, and the fact that those responsible for the murders of other prominent members of civil society in Aceh, such as Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, Sukardi, Sulaiman Ahmad, Tengku Safwan Idris, Nashiruddin Daud, and Zaini Sulaiman, still have not been apprehended, prosecuted, or punished;
(8) commends the `Zone of Peace' initiative in Papua, which has brought together civic, religious, governmental, and police representatives to discuss productive means of avoiding conflict, but expresses concern at the refusal of the Indonesian military to participate in that effort; and
(9) encourages the Government of Indonesia to expedite the reunification of separated East Timorese children with their families, and to hold legally accountable those individuals and organizations responsible for taking those children and for obstructing reunification efforts.

(4) OTHER EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMS-

(D) EAST TIMORESE SCHOLARSHIPS- Of the amounts authorized to be available under subparagraph (A), $1,000,000 for the fiscal year 2004 and $500,000 for the fiscal year 2005 is authorized to be available for `East Timorese Scholarships'.

SEC. 1348. ASSISTANCE TO EAST TIMOR

Section 632(b)(1) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-277) is amended by striking `the fiscal year 2003' and inserting `each of the fiscal years 2003, 2004, and 2005'. [Note: This provision authorizes up to $25,000,000 in Economic Support Funds for East Timor.]

SEC. 1312. ANNUAL FOREIGN MILITARY TRAINING REPORTING.

Section 656(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2416(a)(1)) is amended--

(1) by striking `January 31' and inserting `March 1'; and
(2) by striking `and all such training proposed for the current fiscal year'.

 

see also ETAN's Legislative Action pages


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