U.S. Senate Bans Military Training for Indonesia
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U.S. Senate Bans Military Training for Indonesia, Defies Administration Over Lack of Progress in Prosecuting Killers of U.S. Citizens

For Immediate Release

Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668
Karen Orenstein, 202-544-6911

October 29, 2003 - Expressing strong dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in investigating the killing of two U.S. citizens in Indonesia, the U.S. Senate yesterday agreed unanimously to ban International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia.

The Senate passed two provisions addressing IMET in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. One amendment, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), bans regular IMET. The second, by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), states that any “normalization” of the U.S.-Indonesia military cannot begin until there is “full cooperation” with the FBI in its investigation into the August 31, 2002, ambush which killed three and wounded 11 Americans and Indonesians in Timika, Indonesia, and until those individuals responsible for the murders are brought to justice.

Senator Allard cited the Timika killings as the main motivation for his amendment.

The Feingold amendment further stated that “respect of the Indonesia military for human rights and the improvement in relations between the military and civilian population are extremely important for the future of relations between the United States and Indonesia.”
In an interview prior to his recent visit to Indonesia, President Bush stated that “Congress has changed their attitude” and was ready to provide further military assistance “because of the cooperation of the government on the killings of two U.S. citizens.”

“Clearly, President Bush was wrong. Congress remains deeply disturbed by the lack of progress in these terrorist killings in Papua," said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator of the East Timor Action Network. “The U.S. has a national interest in a democratic Indonesia, which respects human rights and holds violators accountable. History shows that providing prestigious U.S. military training to Indonesia has never brought that goal closer."

In two votes last July, the House of Representatives also agreed unanimously to restrict IMET for Indonesia. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a similar provision last May.

While praising these actions, ETAN urged Congress to expand the conditions on resumption of IMET.

“Many past Congressional conditions, including accountability for rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia and transparency in the military budget, have never been met,” said Orenstein. "Now, a massive military assault is being perpetrated against the people of Aceh - replete with extra-judicial executions, torture, rape and displacement - utilizing U.S.-supplied weapons.  All assistance to the Indonesian military must be terminated, including counter-terrorism assistance"

Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) co-sponsored the Allard amendment Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Campbell co-sponsored the Feingold amendment.

The House and Senate versions of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill would both continue to ban foreign military financing for Indonesia. Conferees from both chambers of Congress must meet to reconcile any differences between their versions of the appropriations bill before final passage.


Indonesian police and non-governmental organization investigations have strongly implicated the TNI for the murder of two U.S. citizens and one Indonesian in Papua on August 31, 2002. Eight U.S. citizens, including a six-year-old child, and three Indonesians were seriously wounded in the ambush in the mining operations area of the Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc. The U.S. embassy in Jakarta called the ambush “a terrorist attack.”

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. The Allard amendment bans regular IMET unless the president “determines important national security interests” justify a waiver.

ETAN (www.etan.org) advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975 and continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces.


see also U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page

Senator Wayne Allard

Floor Statement

Foreign Ops. Approps.

October, 28 2003

Mr. President–

I would like to call up amendment #1995. This amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), would prohibit International Military Education Training funds for Indonesia. It also gives the President the authority to waive this prohibition for national security reasons. Let me explain why it is important for the Senate to consider and approve this amendment.

Nearly fifteen months ago on August 31, 2002, ten Americans living in Indonesia were brutally attacked less than 6 miles from their homes. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition were fired at them for 45 minutes, leaving two Americans dead and most of the other survivors nursing multiple bullet wounds.

I have had the opportunity to meet with one of the survivors of this horrible tragedy, Mrs. Patsy Spiers (SPEARS), who, along with her husband Rick, was shot multiple times. While Patsy was fortunate enough to survive this ordeal, her husband was not. In January, Mrs. Spiers was brave enough to sit down with me and walk through her painful experience. The next day I contacted President Bush urging him to press the Indonesian government to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the attack.

Immediately after the ambush, an investigation into the ambush was conducted by the Indonesian civil police. The police report implicated the Indonesian military in the attack, but indicated that further investigation into the ambush needed to be done. Shortly after the police report was filed, the Indonesian military exonerated themselves from the attack.

Only after diplomatic pressure from the United States did the Indonesian government decide to continue the investigation into the ambush. The Indonesian government also promised to permit the full participation of the FBI. Despite visiting the country multiple times, the FBI has not received the cooperation it needs to determine who was responsible for these brutal murders.

At this juncture, there are indications that Indonesian military may have had some involvement in this attack. Yet, despite these continued allegations and lack of cooperation, the Indonesian government and its military still receives U.S. assistance through the International Military Education Training fund. I believe that until a full and open investigation has been completed and those responsible are prosecuted, IMET funding for the Indonesians should be denied.

Since my face-to-face meeting with Mrs. Spiers (SPEARS), I have continued to work with the Administration, FBI investigators, and colleagues here in the Senate with two distinct goals in mind. The first is to deny the release of funds until the Indonesians have completed the investigation into these murders. The second goal is to ensure that an impartial investigation, with help from the FBI, is conducted into the brutal attack so that those responsible will be brought to justice.

In no way should the United States government provide military assistance to Indonesia until this matter is resolved. What kind of message will we be sending to other governments if we provide this assistance without first determining who was responsible? Just as important, what kind of message do we send to the families of Ted Burgon (BER-GONE) and Rick Spiers (SPEARS) who were murdered in the ambush if we continue this military assistance. Are not the lives of American citizens more important than this military assistance?

I fear that by our inaction we send the wrong message to the world. What kind of precedent will be set for other Americans who travel overseas? We cannot allow the murder of our citizens to be ignored and the Indonesian government should not let those responsible go unpunished.

Mr. President, I appreciate the efforts by the manager of this bill and his staff for their assistance on this amendment. It is my hope that we can quickly resolve any concerns with my amendment so it can be accepted. These American families deserve a resolution and justice.

Thank you Mr. President. I look forward to working with the chairman and ranking member on getting agreement on my amendment.



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