Subject: CONG: Senator Leahy's opening statement to Appropriations Committee, July 18, 2002

Senator Leahy's opening statement to Appropriations Committee, July 18, 2002


Mr. Chairman, I have the greatest respect for the Senator from Hawaii, and the Senator from Alaska. They are strong advocates and I would far prefer to have them on my side. But in this case we have genuine differences.

In 1999, not so very long ago, after high ranking officers in the Indonesian military secretly armed militia vigilantes to slaughter scores of East Timorese and lay waste to that island after the people there voted peacefully for independence, this Committee cut off military training funds for the Indonesian army.

We did not cut it off permanently. We said if you meet certain conditions most importantly "take measures to bring to justice those responsible" for those crimes our aid would resume.

The sponsors of this amendment feel strongly about this, as do I and others here. They have pointed out here and elsewhere that Indonesia is an important country, which it is, and they have argued that we should not treat Indonesia "differently".

We provided IMET to the Indonesian army for 47 years, before the travesty in East Timor. All that time, we knew the Indonesian army was a repressive, corrupt, and abusive institution. They killed an estimated 200,000 people in East Timor in the 1970s.

But the Pentagon, throughout those years, said our IMET was improving the army making it more professional, more respectful of human rights. I remember hearing that many times.

And then in 1992 the army shot 200 peaceful demonstrators in a cemetery in Dili, East Timor. And then there was the massacre in 1999. And the coverup of those crimes, at the highest level of the army. We paid, with our foreign aid program, to rebuild after the army's destruction of East Timor.

No high ranking officer has gone to jail, and several have been promoted. The army continues to arm Muslim extremist militias in other parts of Indonesia. It is involved in drug smuggling, prostitution, human trafficking, illegal logging, and many other illicit enterprises. This is well known.

The army has resisted pressure from the civilian authorities to reform, and it has obstructed justice, including in a case involving the murder of an American who worked for the United Nations.

The reason this Committee acted was not to treat Indonesia differently, or unfairly, but because terrible things happened that could not be ignored. And neither should they be forgotten.

Since 1950, we have provided over $5 billion in aid to Indonesia, including close to $1 billion in military aid.

There is $121 million in economic aid for Indonesia in this bill.

Late last year, this Committee approved an amendment by the Senator from Hawaii, which will provide $4 million in counter-terrorism training for the Indonesian army. We do want to strengthen Indonesia's ability to cooperate with us against international terrorism. The Pentagon has not even started to spend that money.

In the Homeland Defense Supplemental, there is also $12 million in counter-terrorism aid for the Indonesian police $4 million more than the administration asked for.

In addition, the Pentagon has continued to conduct high level visits with Indonesian military officers, and to invite the Indonesian military to participate in multilateral exercises. We offered to sell the army spare parts for their C-130 aircraft. We have not cut off relations with the Indonesian military not by a long shot.

This amendment would provide a grand total of $400,000 for IMET for Indonesia. I think it's obvious that we are not going to reform the Indonesian military with $400,000. But the message we send, as a country that stands for the rule of law, is important, and that is what this debate is about.

This bill strikes a balance. The Suharto era is over. It is the same unrepentant military, but there is a civilian government that we want to support. So in this bill we end the restrictions on "expanded" IMET the type of IMET courses that involve management of defense budgets, civil-military relations, and military justice. In fact, this covers most of the types of courses the Pentagon wants to offer Indonesia.

Let us take a step, with the "expanded" IMET program, which was designed for this type of situation.

Then, if the Indonesian army shows that it wants to reform which even the Pentagon concedes it has not yet done then it will be time to pass this amendment. Until then, we are kidding ourselves, the way we did for 47 years.

Mr. Chairman, I don't want to prolong this, but I want to bring to the Committee's attention three items.

First, is a short letter I received from our former Ambassador to Indonesia, which I will read:

[read Gelbard letter]

Second, is yesterday's New York Times editorial entitled "Indonesia's Unreformed Military".

And finally, a Heritage Foundation report entitled: "New US-Indonesia Relations: From Myth to Reality." I want to read two sentences from that report: "Until the Indonesian military can be brought to justice for human rights abuses, Washington should continue to withhold funds under [the] IMET program, as well as sales of lethal military equipment." However, it goes on to say that "Washington could help by providing a form of assistance known as expanded-IMET, to train senior military and civilians in human rights, defense management, budgeting, [and] acquisitions procedures."

That is exactly what we do in this bill.

see also:
Statement by the ETAN on Restoration of IMET Military Training by Senate Appropriations Committee

Leahy Conditions on Restrictions of Military Assistance for Indonesia Have Not Been Met
Legislative Action and U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance pages

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