Subject: JP: U.S., RI military ties remain in the balance

Also: Indonesia says "no" to US conditions for military cooperation

[Please note the conditions that Sudarsono complains about are those of the entire Congress and are included in the appropriations bill passed last weekend. - John]

November 23, 2004

U.S., RI military ties remain in the balance

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A United States Senate's demand for the putting on trial of the Indonesian Military (TNI) officers deemed to be responsible for atrocities in East Timor remains a thorny issue in the efforts to restore military ties between the two countries, a minister has said.

Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono said on Monday that the U.S. Senate also demanded the bringing to justice of servicemen believed by some U.S. government offices to have been involved in the August 2002 ambush in Timika, Papua, which killed two American teachers, as another tough condition for the resumption of military cooperation.

"I said 'no' to the conditions. I told the United States that these cases should be handled by the Indonesian courts and should not involve demands from other countries," Juwono said.

Juwono plans to make a trip to Washington after the inauguration of President George W. Bush early next year to explain Jakarta's stance to the U.S. government, Congress and non-governmental organizations.

"If the States' policymakers maintain their demands, well, we will have to turn to other countries and develop military relationships with them," he said.

On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit in Santiago, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono voiced a promise to President Bush to continue the hunt for a rebel suspected of having killed the two Americans in Papua province.

The rebel, Antonius Wamang, is strongly suspected of being behind the killing and has been indicted by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft with the ambush on a convoy of buses transporting students and teachers of a school run by U.S. gold and copper mining firm Freeport McMoran in Papua.

The accusation emerged soon after the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded its investigation at the scene. The U.S. officials said 32-year-old Wamang, who is still at large, was a commander of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Another teacher, an Indonesian, was also killed in the incident, while a dozen other people, including eight U.S. nationals, were wounded in the attack, in which more than 100 rounds were fired.

The OPM has been fighting a sporadic, low-level guerrilla war since Indonesia took over the huge mountainous and undeveloped territory from the Netherlands in 1963.

Indonesia's legal system has come under the spotlight after the ad hoc rights tribunal failed to break the cycle of impunity and provide justice for the victims of the bloodshed in East Timor in 1999. All of the senior military and police officers, as well as a civilian -- former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares -- were either acquitted at first instance or on appeal.

Washington halted most military-to-military contacts after Indonesian troops ran riot in East Timor. The U.S. legislators want an accounting for these and other abuses before ties can resume, but the Timika case is still seen as a major obstacle.

"I understand the position of President Bush as his country's political system forces him to listen to the voices of Senators and Congressmen, but am I right if I ask whether that country has committed rights abuses in Iraq?" Juwono asked.

--

Source: Republika, Jakarta, in Indonesian 23 Nov 04 p 8

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Indonesia says "no" to US conditions for military cooperation

Asia Intelligence Wire

Jakarta: Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono revealed that the US government had laid down six conditions if military cooperation between the Indonesia and the US were to be restored.

He said that the conditions included accountability for resolutions to the East Timor and Timika issues and transparency in Indonesia's defence budget.

The defence minister said that US demands to suspend senior TNI [Indonesian Armed Forces] and police officials suspected of committing serious human rights violations in East Timor and Timika could not possibly be met. "This comes under the authority of our courts and we will not bow to pressure from other countries. So, the conditions set by the US are inappropriate and Indonesia would find it very difficult to meet them," the defence minister said in Jakarta yesterday (22 November).

Earlier, a dialogue between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and US President George W Bush in Chile raised the possibility of re-establishing military cooperation between the two countries. However, the US wanted to place conditions on it happening.

When asked whether a resolution to the conflict in Aceh and counter terrorism were among the conditions proposed by the US if military cooperation was to be re-established, the defence minister said they were not. "They only wanted budget transparency in Defence Department and TNI procurement projects," he said.

This condition, according to the defence minister, was not a difficult one because efforts were being made to improve the management of the defence budget and the department had initiated budget transparency within the Defence Department and TNI. The ideal budget for TNI over the next five years was 44-64 trillion rupiah with an economic growth of around 7 per cent. Currently, the budget has increased to 18 trillion rupiah from 13 trillion rupiah the previous year.

Juwono believed that military cooperation between Indonesia and the US could have been re-established if President George Walker Bush had declared the Timika case closed. However, President Bush had difficulty making this decision because the political situation in the US was hostile towards it. He had to consider the attitudes in the US Congress and Senate, both of which had said no to lifting the military embargo on Indonesia until the East Timor and Timika issues had been satisfactorily resolved.

The defence minister has been scheduled to explain the human rights violations to the US Congress in March or April 2005. "If they don't accept our explanation, then we can sound out other countries," he said.

During this trip, Juwono was scheduled to deliver a briefing on the situation in Indonesia and convince the US that it must support Indonesia. "If they cannot help us, then we will look for another country."

The re-establishment of military cooperation with the US would impact greatly on TNI assets. TNI Commander Gen Endriartono Sutarto has admitted that the lifting of the embargo would allow a number of unserviceable Hercules aircraft to fly again.


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