|Subject: HW: Inouye and Indonesia
Honolulu Weekly January 16, 2002
• Inouye and Indonesia
Human rights groups are criticizing Hawai‘i’s senior U.S. Senator, Dan Inouye, for quietly amending the 2002 defense bill, drafted after Sept. 11. The problem, charges the Brooklyn-based East Timor Action Network/U.S. and the D.C.-based Indonesia Human Rights Network, is that Inouye’s $21 million provision allows the Pentagon to resume military cooperation with Indonesia as part of President Bush’s war on terrorism — cooperation that will occur right here in Waikïkï.
Inouye’s amendment establishes a Regional Defense Anti-Terrorism Fellowship Program for Southeast Asia at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, housed at Ft. DeRussy. Center spokesperson Bill Erwin explained that the new program is in its early stages, and so it is still "very vague right now as to how we fit in — a lot of people didn’t even know [the provision] was in the budget. But it’s up to CINCPAC to determine that. We’re [CINCPAC Commander] Dennis Blair’s baby."
Inouye’s baby, too: The senator created the center back in 1994 to bring senior government and military leaders from about 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region to study security issues. "We don’t do teaching or training," says Erwin, noting that 40 percent of attendees are military personnel.
Center participants include officials from Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan and India — even China. The center has some 100 staff and a $12 million annual budget.
In the wake of the Indonesian government-backed slaughter of 2,000 civilians before and after an independence vote in East Timor in August 1999, the U.S. cut its military ties with Indonesia. The carnage, it turns out, was reportedly effected by Indonesia military personnel trained in the U.S. under a covert program sponsored by the Clinton administration that continued until 2000.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said that the Bush administration is moving to make Indonesia, along with the Philippines, a priority partner in eradicating terrorism.
Bush’s new doctrine and Inouye’s program have upset human-rights activists.
"It’s very middle-of-the-night stuff," ETAN’s John Miller told Honolulu Weekly. "It is helping encourage human rights violations, though not directly. Inouye has been a strong and consistent advocate for staying in bed with the Indonesian military."
Not so, say U.S. military officials.
"The intent of these programs are absolutely not to fund human-rights abuses," says U.S. Pacific Command Captain John Singley. "I refer you to www.pacom.mil, where we have a series of statements by Admiral Blair, including policies regarding Indonesia and military relations. He visited the country just a month or so ago."
Singley adds that Blair and CINCPAC believe the Asia-Pacific Center "makes an enormous, invaluable contribution to regional stability and prosperity through engagement with many countries."
The new program’s monies come at the direct behest of Blair, says Inouye’s Hawai‘i chief of staff, Jennifer Sabas: "The senator expects the funding — a significant portion of which will go to the center — will help aide diplomacy, peace-making, civil-defense efforts and humanitarian efforts and provide opportunity for dialogue. It is clearly not his intent to fund the Indonesian and Philippine armies. If there were concerns, the senator would take a serious re-look at the operation."
That may be difficult, as center activities are pretty much closed to the public.
"Everything that we do is for nonattribution, which allows participants to open up and discuss freely," explains Erwin. "The press is not allowed."
Congress has direct oversight, however. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy’s spokesperson, David Carle, told the Weekly that under the so-called "Leahy Law," specific conditions, including humans rights, must be considered when military training and equipment is allocated to foreign regimes.
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