Subject: DOD: supports U.S. engagement with ABRI
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 16:19:07 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
*EPF504 07/24/98 TEXT: KRAMER TESTIMONY ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDONESIA (Engagement with armed forces promotes human rights) (2690)
Washington -- The Department of Defense supports U.S. engagement with the Indonesian defense establishment to promote stability and improved human rights in Indonesia, according to Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Franklin Kramer.
In testimony before the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights July 24, Kramer said: "Indonesia is particularly important to the Department of Defense because of the key role it has played and will continue to play in the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific region."
Kramer expressed concern, however, over alleged human rights violations in Indonesia. "We are particularly troubled by allegations of military involvement in the disappearances of students and other political activists earlier this year as well as the May 12 shootings of the students at Trisakti University. We are likewise aware of similar troubling allegations of military involvement in the recent riots," he said.
"The Department of Defense," Kramer said, "as part of the overall USG effort, will press for credible investigations of these incidents, both publicly and in private meetings with Indonesian officials. We have consistently urged restraint to officials in Jakarta, most recently during the of Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Ralston. We think it critical that the ethnic Chinese minority be fairly treated, with full equal protection under the law," he said.
"The Defense Department is taking special care to ensure adequate policy-level review of all Department of Defense activities with the Indonesian armed forces, especially in light of the still unsettled conditions in the country," Kramer said. "We believe professionalizing the Indonesian armed forces will help reduce human rights abuses by the military, a view that has been supported in the past by Indonesian human rights activists."
Continued engagement with Indonesia is in the best interest of the United States and is key to bringing stability and prosperity to the region, he said. "In this time of financial crisis in the region it is even more important for us to continue to recognize the stabilizing role that only America can play."
Following is the text of Kramer's remarks, as prepared for delivery:
HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDONESIA
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE FRANKLIN D. KRAMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
JULY 24, 1998
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to provide the Department of Defense perspective on human rights in Indonesia. Indonesia is important to a broad range of US interests--political, economic and security. For the Department of Defense, Indonesia is particularly important because of the key role it has played and will continue to play in the stability and security of the Asia Pacific region.
To understand our defense perspective on Indonesia, it is important to understand our overall security strategy in the region. For half a century, America's military presence and engagement has been the basis for stability in East Asia. That stability has been the key to the region's remarkable economic growth - a prosperity in which the American people as well as those of the region have a direct national interest. Our interests require that we continue that engagement in the future.
In January, I accompanied Secretary Cohen on his visit to Asia, at a time when Asia had entered a period of financial crisis - a crisis which has security implications as well. As he met with leaders grappling with this period of turmoil, which emerged so swiftly and unexpectedly, he sought to assure them that the American commitment to the region will continue now and into the future, serving as an anchor of stability in times of economic, as well as security, challenge. As Secretary Cohen said, we returned with a renewed appreciation of two fundamental truths. The first is that Asia is a region of great and growing global importance economically, politically, and strategically. Even in this crisis, the sense of dynamism survives. The second is that Asian leaders want the United States to be involved during this crisis and especially to maintain its strong security presence in the region. They value American engagement in good times and bad.
Security is even more important in times when nations must take the tough decisions to surmount economic problems than in times of prosperity. In this time of financial crisis in the region it is even more important for us to continue to recognize the stabilizing role that only America can play. We have a continuing interest in adhering to four basic strategic tasks: We must maintain the vitality of our bilateral alliances and friendships.
We must maintain our forward presence to ensure stability that has been the basis for the historical success of the economies of the region. We must promote a stable, sound, lasting relationship with China, recognizing that both countries have a fundamental interest in regional and global peace. And we must seize the opportunities offered by multilateral fora, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, which advance transparency, resolve tensions, and improve confidence between regional powers.
The US government is working, diplomatically and through the economic agencies, to help see that the financial crisis will be resolved quickly and that the new economic structure that emerges will be more open, more democratic, and more sound. With American leadership, these results are certainly possible. At the same time, beyond the necessary connection between security and prosperity, the United States obviously has a great number of direct security interests and challenges in the Asia-Pacific. Among our concerns are that Asia remains a concentration of powerful economically competitive states with the world's largest militaries, some of which are nuclear armed. Historical rivalries, set aside in times of prosperity, may re-emerge in times of distress. Relations between nations with competing territorial claims periodically show strains; unresolved claims to disputed small insular areas and boundaries may prove especially dangerous. Deep-seated ethnic tensions could increase perceptions of unfair economic burdens; political turmoil and social unrest could result. And, finally, key nations in the region are going through periods of fundamental political, social, and economic transition.
In short, the current economic crisis reinforces the fundamental, long-standing strategic policy the US has pursued for decades. Now more than ever the United States has an interest in helping to keep the peace and maintain stability. Indeed, we now have an opportunity to strengthen American leadership. The region's leaders are looking to America. We have an opportunity to work with Asia's leaders to resolve long-standing sources of instability and head off potential future problems.
In the Defense Department, we view Indonesia within this broad strategic context. The world's fourth most populous nation and home to the world's largest Muslim population, Indonesia has played a pivotal role in fostering regional stability and will continue to have a critical influence in the Asia-Pacific region into the next century. Indonesia's geostrategic position and regional influence make it important for United States security interests to have a cooperative bilateral defense relationship over the long-term. Its vast span of thousands of islands form a gateway between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and straddle some of the world's most critical sea lines of communication. Indonesia's support for long-term U.S. engagement in the region also has been an important factor in our overall regional security strategy.
In the security arena, as in political and economic affairs, the US and Indonesia share important, broad interests in promoting stability and peaceful resolution of conflict both regionally and internationally. Indonesia has been the backbone of ASEAN, has served as an influential participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum and APEC, and has demonstrated leadership on regional security problems such as Cambodia and the South China Sea. Indonesia has also established a long tradition of supporting UN peacekeeping operations and has been heavily involved in global disarmament efforts.
The importance of Indonesia and our bilateral engagement is why Secretary Cohen visited Jakarta in January, and why he will visit again next week. Indeed, among the visits of Administration officials such as Assistant Secretary of State Roth, Treasury Deputy Secretary Summers and Agency for International Development Administrator Atwood, has been a series of visits by DoD officials as we seek maintain open and candid dialogue with this important country and this important military institution. In January, as Jakarta was gripped by the financial crisis, Secretary Cohen stressed the importance of economic stability to regional security and reiterated continued strong United States engagement during this difficult period. ADM Prueher, Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Command, visited Jakarta in June, after the presidential transition. Meeting with Defense Minister and Armed Forces Chief General Wiranto, he urged military support for continued reform and the need for a thorough investigation of the Trisakti University shootings. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Ralston visited Indonesia earlier this month, again, carrying the message that a long- term security relationship is important to the United States, the reform process must continue, the importance of human rights, and the need for thorough and credible investigations into military involvement in the political disappearances, university shootings, and riots and rapes of Sino-Indonesian women. These are messages that Secretary Cohen will also carry.
At present, the Defense Department is taking special care to ensure adequate policy-level review of all DoD activities with the Indonesian armed forces, especially in light of the still unsettled conditions in the country. In early May, Secretary Cohen placed a temporary hold on all activities in Indonesia, subject to a case-by-case review by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Slocombe. We have reviewed all activities previously planned, as well as some newly proposed, for the rest of Fiscal Year 1998. We have approved activities that generally fall into the categories of medical/humanitarian, logistics and engineering, subject matter expert exchanges, and senior-level visits. We can provide your staff a list of these activities. In addition, Indonesian military personnel are participating in Expanded-IMET courses, conferences and seminars outside Indonesia. We will continue to review the situation in Indonesia and to determine which activities to approve in light of that situation. Our near-term objective is to maintain contact and candid dialogue with this important institution as it copes with the many challenges that stem from the political and economic changes now taking place, and to support the reform process.
One particular type of activity - Joint Combined Exchange Training events, those conducted by US Special Operations Forces (SOF) under the authority of section 2011 of Title 10, United States Code with the primary purpose of training US SOF - remain on hold in Indonesia. I would like to note for the Subcommittee, however, new procedures which the Defense Department has adopted on how JCET activities are planned and conducted worldwide, changes that were developed after DoD consultations with Congressional staff members on our JCET deployments to Indonesia. The Office of the Secretary of the Defense (OSD), the Joint Staff, and the United States Special Operations Command reviewed the depth and breadth of the reporting efforts on the program, as well as the degree of OSD oversight present in the training deployment review process. We are improving the content of the annual report to Congress that is submitted on Special Operations Forces training with foreign forces in accordance with section 2011. Additionally, OSD oversight of all section 2011 training deployments has been expanded. All planned activities conducted under section 2011 must now be reported in advance, on a quarterly basis, to OSD for review. We will provide this quarterly information to the Department of State. The OSD review of this quarterly projection will be conducted by the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Allen Holmes in consultation with my Office of International Security Affairs. Our review will encompass all relevant policy issues surrounding each training deployment and the host nations' forces with whom US Special Operations Forces would be training. If we are in possession of credible evidence of gross violations of human rights by a unit, we will not, except in extraordinary circumstances, train with that unit until we are satisfied that all necessary corrective steps have been taken. Further, DoD will continue to accept the Ambassador's judgment on the host nation units with which it is appropriate to tram. While we are in the early days of making these revisions and will doubtless be able to improve on the process over time, we are confident that these changes in policy oversight and reporting of Special Operations Forces training under section 2011 will improve the visibility and transparency of this vital training activity.
The tensions generated by the Indonesia's economic problems and political transition have been accompanied by human rights problems. We are particularly troubled by allegations of military involvement in the disappearances of students and other political activists earlier this year as well as the May 12 shootings of the students at Trisakti University. We are likewise aware of similar troubling allegations of military involvement in the recent riots. DoD, as part of the overall USG effort, will press for credible investigations of these incidents, both publicly and in private meetings with Indonesian officials. Indonesian government investigations are ongoing, and we are awaiting the findings. Meanwhile, we have a strong interest in seeing the Indonesian military manage current and future unrest throughout Indonesia with restraint. We have consistently urged restraint to officials in Jakarta, most recently during the of Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Ralston. As Assistant Secretary Shattuck has stated, we think it critical that the ethnic Chinese minority be fairly treated, with full equal protection under the law. Finally, we too are pleased that a way seems open for progress on East Timor, and General Ralston raised this issue on his recent visit.
As Assistant Secretary of State Shattuck has stated, it should be noted that the Indonesian military has generally acted responsibly since the outbreak of the crisis. General Wiranto and the ABRI leadership appear to be concerned that rules of engagement are adhered to, and that ABRI acts professionally and with restraint. While every individual lapse harms the reputation and credibility of ABRI and should be fully accounted for, we should not fail to acknowledge the discipline of the majority of the armed forces in dealing with the range of very difficult situations they have faced.
The Department of Defense fully supports our human rights objectives in Indonesia. As Assistant Secretary Shattuck has said, it is the US Government's belief that DoD interaction with the Indonesian armed forces is a key tool with which do so. We do not assume that individual US policies or actions taken toward the Indonesian military will by themselves produce fundamental changes in the military's behavior. We believe, however, that over time, we can influence human rights improvements through dialogue, access, and training. All forms of training that we can provide to members of the Indonesian armed forces, whether technical, operational, or professional in nature, expose Indonesian service members to not just to a professional, civilian-controlled military institution, but to the best in the world. In short, we believe professionalizing the Indonesian armed forces will help reduce human rights abuses by the military, a view that has been supported in the past by Indonesian human rights activists.
The unprecedented economic crisis and political transition with which Indonesia is currently grappling will focus Jakarta's energies on internal stability and recovery for the foreseeable future. The outcome of the economic turmoil and political evolution nonetheless have high stakes for regional stability and security. Economic restructuring and the opening of the political system pose serious challenges for the Indonesian leadership and have the potential for significant effects on many nations in the region. Continued US engagement in Indonesia, and with the Indonesian defense establishment, will help promote stability necessary to manage this difficult period.