For Immediate Release
Contact John M. Miller
Bush Must Set Record Straight: No Military Assistance for
October 21, 2003 – The East Timor Action Network (ETAN)
today urged President Bush to set the record straight and restrict
all military assistance for the Indonesian military (TNI) when he
visits Bali, Indonesia.
“President Bush’s message to Indonesian President Megawati must
be crystal clear: The Indonesian military must clean up its act
before he will consider granting prestigious U.S. assistance,” said
John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
In an interview with Indonesian
television, President Bush recently stated that he planned to
discuss “mil-to-mil relations between Indonesia,” when he meets with
Indonesia’s President Megawati this Wednesday. In an unusual
correction of a president traveling abroad, the
Washington Post reported administration officials saying that
President Bush “misspoke.”
“Human rights violations in Aceh, Papua and elsewhere must end,
and military personnel must be held accountable for crimes against
humanity committed in East Timor and Indonesia,” said Miller. “Bush
must press for the extradition of Indonesian officers indicted in
East Timor and prosecution of the military officers believed
responsible for killing two Americans and an Indonesian teacher in
"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."
“While the President may believe that Congress has changed its
attitude concerning military training for Indonesia, as recently as
last July the
House of Representatives voted unanimously to oppose IMET for
Indonesia,” said Karen Orenstein, ETAN’s Washington Coordinator.
“Congress has unambiguously conveyed that it wants to see those
responsible for the brutal murder of U.S. citizens in Papua
prosecuted and convicted and an end to civilian deaths and other
abuses in Aceh.”
Bush last week also told the Indonesian media, “Our standpoint is
that we don't think that in Aceh, for example, that the issue should
be solved and can be solved militarily.”
“Bush can’t support peace for Aceh and Papua and military
engagement at the same time. Sending contradictory messages will
only strengthen the military’s resolve, delay reform and lead to
more suffering,” said Miller. “The President should call for an
immediate ceasefire in Aceh, the withdrawal of troops, and a return
to the negotiating table with significant involvement from civil
Representative Lane Evans (D-IL), a senior member of the Armed
recently wrote his colleagues that “U.S. assistance for the
Indonesian military (TNI)… without any conditions that require the
military to address and improve their human rights record,
essentially rewards the TNI for its own terrorism, including the
past abuses in East Timor, the current assault on civilians in Aceh,
and numerous other human rights violations.”
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.
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.
Indonesian police and human rights groups have strongly implicated
the military in 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. On May 19, 2003, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri
declared martial law in Aceh, ending a six-month ceasefire with the
Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Indonesia's official human rights
commission has cited numerous human rights violations by security
forces during the current military campaign. The government of
Indonesia has barred nearly all international humanitarian and human
rights organizations from entering Aceh.
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. While there have
been a few convictions with light sentences, the architects of the
scorched-earth campaign in East Timor remain free, often wielding
significant power within the government and security forces. Several
military officers responsible for crimes in East Timor are currently
directing the war in Aceh. None of those convicted are expected to
serve a day in prison.
Congress first voted to restrict IMET military training 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. Congress
originally approved $400,000 for IMET in FY03 but Indonesia’s
participation in the program was ultimately limited to Expanded IMET.
On July 24, the House voted to strip a $600,000 appropriation for
International Military Education and Training (IMET) intended for
Indonesia for FY04. In May, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
unanimously approved reinstating the ban on IMET for Indonesia.
ETAN advocates for democracy, sustainable development, justice
and human rights, including women's rights, for the people of East
Timor and Indonesia. (www.etan.org).
Monday, October 20, 2003
Officials Correct Bush on Indonesia
By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
President Bush misspoke when he said last week that the United
States was ready to "go forward with" a new package of military
training programs with Indonesia, according to a White House
official questioned about the president's remarks.
Bush said on Indonesian television that new military programs
could be launched because Indonesia had cooperated in an
investigation into the killing of two U.S. citizens last year in the
eastern Indonesia province of Papua.
The comments caught U.S. officials by surprise. Asked to explain
Bush's remarks, a senior administration official, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, said: "We want to move ahead with increased
military-to-military cooperation with Indonesia, which is in both of
"Progress in building a broader military-to-military relationship
with Indonesia," he said, however, "will be pinned on continued
cooperation from Indonesia on the investigation into the murders of
two Americans" near the town of Timika, in Papua. "The investigation
is moving forward due to the improved cooperation by the Indonesia
No new programs are currently planned or have been approved,
other administration officials said, contrary to what Bush's
During the same interview, Bush also mischaracterized Congress's
continued opposition to such military training. Bush said that "for
a while the Congress put restrictions on [military training], but
now the Congress has changed their attitude."
In fact, opposition in Congress to military training programs
with Indonesia grew stronger this year after the possibility of
Indonesian military involvement in the Papua attack was raised in a
closed-door hearing in May. The hearing also included testimony from
a CIA analyst who discussed intelligence indicating that military
personnel were seeking to withhold evidence from FBI agents.
Congress subsequently voted to prohibit the administration from
allowing Indonesia to participate in a traditional U.S. military
training program called International Military Education and
Training (IMET) until Bush certifies that Indonesia is cooperating
fully with the investigation. No such certification is in the works,
said several congressional and administration officials.
Last year, Congress defeated a similar measure to make the
release of IMET funds conditional on cooperation in the murder
The ambush took place along a windy mining road on property
controlled by an American mining company, PT Freeport Indonesia, and
guarded by company security personnel and Indonesian soldiers. Two
Americans and an Indonesian were killed. Eight other Americans,
including a 6-year-old girl, were wounded. The adults made up the
entire staff of a school for the children of the mine's American,
British and Australian employees.
Although the Indonesian government has demonstrated some
cooperation -- it allowed the FBI to take evidence pertaining to the
ambush to the United States for forensic analysis -- the FBI, State
Department and lawmakers closely following the case say they do not
believe the FBI has received the level of cooperation needed to
conclude the investigation.
Patsy Spier, whose husband was killed in the ambush and who was
badly injured herself, met last week with Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul D. Wolfowitz and John Pistole, chief of the FBI's
counterterrorism division, to press the case for a full
investigation. She said after the meetings that both men promised
their continued help in making sure the Indonesian government
"Americans were murdered," Spier said. "It was brutal and we need
to find out what happened and to stop it so it doesn't happen
White House Press Office
October 19, 2003
Interview of the President by Rosianna Silalahi, SCTV
WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 -- The following is a transcript of an
interview of President Bush by Rosianna Silalahi, SCTV:
Q Speaking about human rights, Papua and Aceh are struggling to
be independent because the human rights has become a critical issue.
What is your standpoint about this?
THE PRESIDENT: Our standpoint is that we don't think that -- in
Aceh, for example, that the issue should be solved and can be solved
militarily. It ought to be solved through peaceful negotiations.
Q And how about Papua?
THE PRESIDENT: Same, peaceful negotiations.
Q How about American citizens that got killed in Papua?
THE PRESIDENT: We're not happy about that, of course, and I
appreciate the government's full cooperation with our Federal Bureau
of Investigation that is now seeking out the evidence to determine
who the killers were.
Q Does it change your military policy towards Indonesia?
THE PRESIDENT: No, as a matter of fact, we're going to discuss
mil-to-mil relations between Indonesia. And for awhile, the Congress
put restrictions on it. But now the Congress has changed their
attitude, and I think we can go forward with a package of mil-to-mil
cooperation because of the cooperation of the government on the
killings of two U.S. citizens.