For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, ETAN,
Kurt Biddle, IHRN, 510-559-7762
Groups Condemn Bush Administration Move to Restore Military
Training for Indonesia, Urge Congress to Strongly Protest
American Survivor of Ambush and Former Foreign Service Officer
Call for Continued Ban
July 14, 2003 - Senior Bush administration officials reportedly
have decided to release funds for a controversial military training
program for Indonesia for fiscal year 2003. Human rights groups and
others concerned about the Indonesian military's poor human rights
record today condemned the administration’s plan to restore
International Military Education and Training (IMET) and urged
Congress to strongly protest the plan. The administration must first
“consult” with Congress before obligating the money; these meetings
have not yet taken place.
"For over three decades, the U.S. and Indonesian militaries were
extremely close and we saw no move to reform," said Ed McWilliams, a
former State Department official who served as political counselor
in the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia from 1996-1999. "The Indonesian
military's (TNI) worst abuses took place when we were most engaged."
"The release of the IMET funds now would only cause people to
question America's commitment to its own citizens' safety," said
Patricia Lynne Spier. "The FBI must be allowed to complete its
investigation of the attack on me and others at the Freeport mine.
No military assistance should be provided unless the Indonesian
military is deemed innocent."
Spier, a U.S. citizen, was seriously wounded and her husband and
two other colleagues killed in an ambush in Papua in the mining
operations area of the Louisiana-headquartered Freeport-McMoRan. The
attack is widely attributed to the TNI.
"The administration should not ignore the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, which in May unanimously approved reinstating
the ban on IMET for Indonesia," said Karen Orenstein, Washington
Coordinator of the East Timor Action Network (ETAN).
"How can the Bush administration seriously consider restoring
IMET while the TNI engages in horrific human rights violations in
Aceh and Papua?" asked Orenstein.
"Rather than teach democratic values, the Indonesian military
will see IMET as a U.S. endorsement of business as usual," said Kurt
Biddle, Coordinator of the Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN).
"Since the administration has actively sought to restore military
assistance, the Indonesian military has sabotaged international
efforts to attain justice for crimes against humanity committed in
East Timor, exonerated itself of last year's murder of two U.S.
teachers, and undermined a U.S.-backed ceasefire in Aceh.”
Indonesian police and non-governmental organization
investigations point to TNI responsibility for the murder of two
U.S. citizens and one Indonesian in West Papua on August 31, 2002.
Another eight U.S. citizens, including a six-year-old child and
three Indonesians, were wounded in the ambush in the mining
operations area of the Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper and
Gold, Inc. After two previous FBI trips were hindered by TNI
obstruction, Indonesia recently allowed the FBI to return to carry
out its own investigation of the attack.
In Aceh, Indonesia is conducting its largest military operation
since the 1975 invasion of East Timor. Aceh, on the northern tip of
the island of Sumatra, is the site of one of Asia's longest running
wars. For almost 27 years, the armed Free Aceh Movement (GAM) has
been demanding independence from Indonesia. On May 19, 2003,
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri declared martial law in
Aceh, ending a six-month ceasefire. Indonesia's official human
rights commission has cited numerous human rights violations by
security forces during the current military campaign.
The TNI has successfully evaded accountability for crimes against
humanity committed in East Timor in 1999 and the previous 23 years
of illegal occupation. Indonesia's ad hoc Human Rights Court for
East Timor is an internationally-acknowledged sham. In early August,
the court is expected to issue its final verdict in the case of
General Adam Damiri. The prosecution has already asked for an
acquittal. Damiri has missed several court appearances due to his
involvement in the military assault on Aceh. The architects of the
scorched-earth campaign in East Timor remain free, often wielding
significant power within the government and security forces.
Congress first voted to restrict IMET for Indonesia, which brings
foreign military officers to the U.S. for training, in response to
the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor. All military ties were
severed in September 1999 as the Indonesian military and its militia
proxies razed East Timor following its pro-independence vote.
Congress first passed the "Leahy conditions" on IMET and other
military assistance in late 1999. The FY00 through FY02 foreign
operations appropriations laws required the president to certify
that Indonesia had met these conditions before IMET and Foreign
Military Financed (FMF) weapons sales programs were restored for
Indonesia. For FY03, the Congress approved $400,000 for IMET. In
May, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee conditioned a ban on
IMET for FY04 on certification that Indonesia is "taking effective
measures" to fully investigate and criminally prosecute those
responsible for the Freeport mine killings.
ETAN advocates for democracy, sustainable development, justice
and human rights, including women's rights, for the people of East
Timor. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes
against humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975. (www.etan.org)
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. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people
throughout the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen civil society. (www.indonesianetwork.org)