ETAN To Obama
Administration: U.S. military assistance will harm reform and set back
Contact: John M. Miller, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
+1-718-596-7668; 917-690-4391, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 27 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) today
urged the Obama administration not to offer military assistance to
"U.S. military assistance harms reform and sets back human rights accountability
in Indonesia," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN.
Testifying before a U.S. Senate committee this week (video),
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talked about expanded cooperation with
the Indonesian military, including in the area of counter-terrorism. The Obama
administration is currently considering offering resumed cooperation with Indonesia's
Kopassus notorious special forces when the President visits the country next
The best way to prevent future
violations is to hold accountable those responsible for the multitude of
human rights crimes committed by the Indonesian military in East Timor
(Timor-Leste), West Papua, and elsewhere. Many of these crimes occurred
while the U.S. was most deeply engaged with the Indonesian military
providing the bulk of its weapons and training.
Clinton said while seeking to expand security cooperation "We are looking at ensuring... there is no resumption of any
human rights abuses or other kinds of behavior that we deplore."
"Clinton's remarks imply that Indonesian military human rights
violations are a thing of the past. They aren't," said Miller.
"The best way to prevent future violations is to hold accountable those
responsible for the multitude of human rights crimes committed by the
Indonesian military in East Timor (Timor-Leste), West Papua, and
elsewhere. Many of these crimes occurred while the U.S. was most deeply
engaged with the Indonesian military providing the bulk of its weapons
and training," he added.
"While Indonesia has made progress in many areas since the fall of
Suharto, reform of the military has stalled. The shedding of military
businesses has become a farce. And the military continues to resist
efforts to bring soldiers and former soldiers into court for rights
violations," said Miller
"Restrictions on military assistance provide important leverage to
encourage accountability and reform," he added.
Secretary of State Clinton also spoke about Indonesia's
successful counter-terrorism efforts. In Indonesia, the police have the major
role in this area. "U.S. support for greater Indonesian military involvement
will only undercut the police, strengthen the military internal, territorial
role and further undermine reform," he said.
"Working with the military on counter-terrorism means
working with Kopassus," said Miller.
Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton with the Indonesia's President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta in 2009.
For many years, the U.S. Congress conditioned military
assistance to Indonesia on reform, respect for human rights and real
accountability. In 2005, when the Bush administration waived those restrictions,
it pledged to "carefully calibrate" any security assistance to promote reform
and human rights. Neither the Bush administration nor its successor have
published any such plan.
At a recent UN Security Council meeting on Timor-Leste,
the U.S. representative said that "We are, however, concerned about the need
to address impunity.... We also encourage Timor-Leste to support the
recommendations of the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation." One
recommendation of Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East
Timor (CAVR) calls on States [to] regulate military sales and cooperation
with Indonesia more effectively and make such support totally conditional on
progress towards full democratisation, the subordination of the military to the
rule of law and civilian government, and strict adherence with international
human rights, including respect for the right of self-determination.
ETAN was formed in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for occupied East
Timor. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice
and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information, see ETAN's