|For Immediate Release Dec. 20, 1999
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668
Norwich University to End Training of Indonesian Military
The East Timor Action Network today praised the decision by Norwich
University, a private military university in Vermont, to sever ties with
the Indonesian military. In October, Terry J. Allen writing in the Boston
Globe, revealed that 13 Indonesian students were receiving ROTC military
training. Eleven had a billing address at the Kopassus elite forces, one
of the most notorious and brutal units of the Indonesian military.
In a statement John M. Miller, spokesperson for the East Timor Action
"We applaud Norwich University's decision to "sever all
formal ties with the Indonesian military." Norwich's program was
wrong-headed from the start and Norwich's President Richard W. Schneider
is correct in saying that the Indonesian military is not interested in
reform. However, it should not have taken the massive destruction in the
wake of East Timor's independence vote to recognize this. The Indonesian
military's well-documented record of abuses in East Timor and Indonesia
has long been available.
"We join President Schneider in looking forward to the day when
all of Indonesia's institutions respect democratic values. We believe that
day will come much sooner through continuing the U.S. government's
suspension of military training and weapons sales to Indonesia instituted
by President Clinton and reiterated by Congress. We hope President
Schneider will join us in pressing the U.S. Congress and administration
toward that end.
"Norwich has said it will offer two cadet scholarships to East
Timorese. While East Timor has yet to decide if it will have an army,
Norwich students would certainly benefit from interacting with East
Timorese, hearing their experiences, and learning about the atrocious
human costs of U.S. support for regimes, like Indonesia, which
persistently violate human rights. The Norwich University community has
much to learn from the East Timorese, perhaps more than the East Timorese
have to learn from Norwich. It is of course up to the people of East Timor
to accept or reject Norwich's offer. However, we hope that Norwich will
offer a choice of civilian or cadet scholarships.
"Norwich can help East Timor by pressing its friends in the
Indonesian military to end collusion between the miltiary and its militias
and to disarm and disband all miltia groups now preventing East Timorese
from returning home."
In September, as Indonesian troops rampaged through East Timor
following its pro-independence vote, President Clinton suspended all
military ties with Indonesia. Continued training by Norwich, which uses
active duty U.S. military officers, appeared to violate that policy.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. was founded in November 1991,
following the massacre of more than 271 peaceful demonstrators in Dili,
East Timor. ETAN/US supports East Timor's transition to independence and
democracy and human rights in Indonesia. ETAN has long campaigned to end
weapons sales and military training to Indonesia. ETAN has 27
local chapters across the country.
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