Subject: WP: 6 Indonesians Barred From U.S.
The Washington Post
Friday, January 16, 2004
Indonesians Barred From U.S.
Current and Former Military Officers Placed on Watch List
By Dana Priest and Peter Slevin Washington Post Staff Writers
The State Department has decided to put a half-dozen current and former Indonesian military officers, including a leading presidential candidate, on a watch list of indicted war criminals, effectively barring them from entering the United States, according to U.S. government officials.
The list includes Gen. Wiranto, the former head of the armed forces who hopes to lead the country, and whom the Defense Department once considered a reform-minded professional. He and the others on the watch list were indicted last year on war crimes charges by a special U.N. tribunal. The United Nations is investigating the 1999 violence that left 1,500 East Timorese dead in the days surrounding a referendum on East Timor independence from Indonesia.
A subsequent Indonesian ad hoc tribunal refused to investigate or try the officers, and nearly all other lower-level Indonesian police and army personnel charged with human rights abuses in East Timor have been acquitted.
The refusal to prosecute has angered State Department officials, who believe the tribunal disregarded the evidence. The decision to deny those individuals visas to enter the United States was an attempt to show the administration's disapproval, one official said.
"Had there been a generalized perception that the prosecution was vigorous and a reasoned judgment was made," the visa process "would have been looked at in a different light," said one government official involved in the deliberations.
The decision comes as the Bush administration has vastly increased its ties with Indonesia's military and security forces to track down suspected terrorists. At the same time, the U.S. government is pressuring the Indonesian military to cooperate with an FBI investigation of an attack on Americans, including two teachers who were killed, in August 2002, in Papua, an Indonesian province.
An FBI team recently returned from its third trip to Indonesia only partly satisfied with the cooperation of Indonesian authorities. Meanwhile, Patsy Spier, the widow of one of the teachers, met recently with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. Both officials, she and other U.S officials said, assured her they would continue to aggressively pursue the investigation to find the killers.
Eight Americans were wounded in the assault that claimed the teachers' lives. Their vehicle was ambushed on an isolated mountain road in Papua controlled by the military and a U.S. mining company, PT Freeport Indonesia. State Department officials and an Indonesian police investigator have said the preponderance of evidence points to military involvement in the ambush.
The Indonesian military has a long history of human rights abuse. After Suharto, the U.S.-backed authoritarian leader, was driven from power in 1998, Wiranto was viewed by the Defense Department as a reform-minded general who would turn the military into a professional organization subject to civilian control. He has asserted he did not know about or direct the East Timor killings.
The names will be added to a State Department watch list. None has applied to enter the United States, but if they do, their names will pop up on the consular affairs computers, and their requests will be automatically subject to further investigation, a State Department official said. But several officials pointed out that it would be highly unusual for the United States to give a visa to someone indicted for serious war crimes.
By Matthew Moore
January 17, 2004
The US State Department is to put several serving and former Indonesian military officers, including a leading presidential candidate, on a watch list of indicted war criminals, effectively barring them from entering the US.
The list includes General Wiranto, former head of the armed forces and a leading presidential candidate in the elections this year, whom the Defence Department once considered a reform-minded professional.
General Wiranto and others on the list were among eight Indonesian army officers indicted last year on war crimes charges in Dili District court by East Timor's Prosecutor-General, using evidence gathered by the UN serious crimes unit.
A member of General Wiranto's presidential campaign team played down any damage the US move would cause to his presidential aims and said a ban on visiting the US would not apply if General Wiranto was elected president.
"People I have spoken to are convinced his name is not on the list," he said.
"And assuming he was on this list, and every indication is he's not, and he was elected president, a ban no longer applies because it becomes a diplomatic matter."
In recent months, General Wiranto has emerged as a front-runner to win the nomination of former president Soeharto's Golkar Party, which would allow him to challenge President Megawati Soekarnoputri in the July poll.
However, satisfactorily explaining his role in East Timor's bloodshed remains a significant obstacle.
The State Department move comes as the UN remains under pressure from human rights groups and some governments to take action against Indonesia for its perceived failure to seriously pursue those responsible for crimes in East Timor.
An Indonesian ad hoc tribunal set up under UN pressure prosecuted 18 officers and officials for war crimes but acquitted most of them and allowed those convicted to stay free on appeal.
Some senior officers, including General Wiranto, head of the armed forces at the time of East Timor's independence vote, were not investigated or prosecuted.
The refusal to prosecute has angered State Department officials, who believe the tribunal disregarded the evidence. The decision to deny those individuals visas to enter the US was an attempt to show the Administration's disapproval, an official said.
"Had there been a generalised perception that the prosecution was vigorous and a reasoned judgment was made," the visa process "would have been looked at in a different light," said a US Government official.
The names will be added to a State Department watch list.
The other names believed to be on the list are General Zacky Anwar Makarim, Major-General Kiki Syahnakri, General Adam Damiri, Colonel Tono Suratman and Colonel Mohammad Noer Muis.
- with Washington Post
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