Vol. 9, No. 1
Australia Continues to Steal East Timor’s Sea Resources
More Pressure Needed to Stop U.S.-TNI Ties
Announcing ETAN Lobby Days June 6-8, 2004, Washington, DC
More Pressure Needed to Stop U.S.-TNI Ties
by Karen Orenstein
As the Indonesian military (TNI) continues to commit atrocities, efforts to restrict U.S.-Indonesia military ties remain as important as ever.
In Aceh, over 1300 people — the vast majority civilians — have lost their lives since the Indonesian government declared martial law there in May 2003. Little is known about conditions in the province, because Jakarta has effectively sealed off the area. The meager evidence available indicates dire conditions. The TNI has deployed U.S.-supplied weapons in Aceh, including F-16 fighter jets and OV-10 Broncos, aircraft used to deadly effect in East Timor. An F-16 also recently flew above a tiny island claimed by both East Timor and Indonesia immediately after an Indonesian warship bombed the uninhabited outcrop. The Bush administration has refused to publicly protest the use of U.S.-supplied equipment in these cases.
In Papua, the TNI is blocking movement of humanitarian assistance to civilians who fled an April 2003 military operation in the territory’s Central Highlands. The military remains the only holdout in a proposal supported by Papuan civil society, religious leaders, police, and the provincial government to transform Papua into a zone of peace. Rather, the TNI supports division of Papua into smaller provinces.
As it did in East Timor, the TNI sponsors militia in Aceh and Papua. The notorious Islamic fundamentalist Laskar Jihad militia, responsible for the deaths of thousands in Maluku through 2001, is reportedly now operating in Papua.
Additionally, individuals indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor have received promotions; some are now in senior positions overseeing campaigns in Aceh and Papua. A. M. Hendropriyono, who helped mastermind the 1999 East Timor violence, is now the chief of Indonesia’s National Intelligence Agency and key interlocutor with the U.S. in the “war on terror.” East Timor’s chief of police in 1998-1999, Brig. General Timbul Silaen, currently heads Papua’s police force. And Major General Adam Damiri, regional military commander in 1999 of the area that included East Timor, has been promoted to Assistant for Operations to the Chief of the General Staff with a key role in Aceh. Damiri, one of the few convicted by Indonesia’s court on East Timor, is not expected to serve a day of his three-year sentence.
Despite these developments, the Bush administration continues to push to normalize relations with the TNI. Admiral Thomas Fargo, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, testified to Congress in March, “The TNI appears committed to reform, and there is evidence of positive change in the military.”
The Bush administration lobbied Congress to lift its restriction on International Military Education and Training (IMET) for 2004, but failed. IMET is currently banned, contingent on Indonesia’s cooperation with the FBI investigation of the August 2002 ambush in Timika, Papua, that left one Indonesian and two American teachers dead and many others wounded. (Indonesian police and NGO reports implicate the TNI for the murders.) ETAN is working to further condition IMET on prosecution and appropriate punishment of those responsible, and on meaningful justice in all cases of human rights violations in Indonesia and East Timor.
The Bush administration has exploited Indonesia’s status as the world’s largest Muslim country to justify efforts to increase military and police aid in the context of the “war on terror.” Although conditions relating to human rights and military reform continue to restrict foreign military financing and export licenses for lethal defense articles to Indonesia, the Pentagon and the State and Justice Departments are providing millions in counter-terrorism assistance to the TNI and police through non-transparent mechanisms.
We must educate Congress about the brutal nature of the TNI. Please come to ETAN’s Lobby Days in June or contact Congress today. Working together, we can block U.S. assistance for this force of state terror.
For more information, see www.etan.org/action/issues/miltie.htm.