Subject: CONG: Leahy and Bond on Mil. Restrictions

(Senator Bond press release follows Senator Leahy's statement)


February 1, 2005

MR. LEAHY. Mr. President, last week I listened to the comments of my friend, the senior Senator from Missouri, regarding the devastating impact of the tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia, which caused so much loss of life and destruction of property. Senator Bond paid tribute to the contributions of American relief agencies that have done so much to alleviate the suffering there, and I want to echo those comments.

He also expressed concern about what he called "unintended consequences" of restrictions on our assistance to the Indonesian military, otherwise known as the TNI. Specifically, he referred to the International Military Education and Training Program, and spare parts for C-130 aircraft.

I want to respond to that portion of Senator Bond's remarks, to be sure there is no misunderstanding about what our law says.

To begin with, I want to disabuse those who might be misled by some Indonesian officials who often mistakenly refer to a U.S. military "embargo" against Indonesia. I ask unanimous consent that a Defense Department document from our Embassy in Jakarta, which describes the many programs and other contacts we currently have with the TNI, be printed in the Record at the end of my remarks.

The fact is that the TNI participates in training programs under both the expanded International Military Education and Training (E-IMET) program and the Counter-terrorism Fellowship program (CTFP). This is the largest CTFP program currently underway anywhere in the world. Millions of dollars have been appropriated for these programs in recent years, including for the types of defense management, military justice, civil military relations, and other courses that the Senator from Missouri and I support. The TNI is participating in the E-IMET program which Congress has funded at the level requested by the Bush Administration.

Our law also does not prevent military exercises and other contacts with the U.S. military through officer visits, educational exchanges, and port visits. Perhaps the most visible evidence of this is the U.S. military working side by side with the TNI during the ongoing humanitarian relief operations in Aceh.

With respect to training, U.S. law restricts only the full restoration of regular IMET assistance until the Indonesian Government and the TNI "are cooperating" with the FBI's investigation into the August 31, 2002, murders of two American citizens and one Indonesian citizen. By "cooperating" we obviously mean not simply cooperating in limited ways, but fully cooperating. I am concerned with reports that the TNI may have conspired with the shooters in that case, and that the one Papuan individual who has been indicted, who is not a member of the TNI, remains at large even though his whereabouts are reportedly known to the TNI.

With respect to equipment, our law does not restrict the sale of non-lethal equipment to the TNI. Specifically, with regard to spare parts for the C-130's, there has been no change in U.S. law, although I am told that there may have been a relaxation of this Administration's policy. Our law does not and never has prevented the sale of spare parts for these aircraft for humanitarian purposes. Over four years ago, when the TNI first requested to purchase C-130 spare parts for "search and rescue" missions, the U.S. Ambassador and I, as well as, I am told, the Secretary of Defense, informed the Indonesians that this was not prohibited by either U.S. law or policy and that they could purchase these parts from us. For reasons the Pentagon is aware of, the TNI decided to obtain them elsewhere.

The only conditions on the sale of lethal equipment are that the Indonesian Government is prosecuting and punishing members of the TNI for gross violations of human rights, and that the TNI is (1) taking steps to counter international terrorism consistent with democratic principles and the rule of law; (2) cooperating with civilian judicial authorities and with international efforts to resolve cases of gross violations of human rights; and (3) implementing financial reforms to deter corruption.

There are good reasons for these limited conditions. The United States has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in training and equipment to the Indonesian military since the 1950's. Despite the close relationship that developed between the U.S. military and the TNI over four decades, the TNI acquired a reputation for being notoriously abusive and corrupt. After the TNI murdered some two hundred civilians in a cemetery in Dili, East Timor in 1992, our IMET assistance was cut off. Our relations with the TNI were further curtailed in 1999, after the independence referendum in East Timor when the TNI orchestrated widespread killings and the destruction of property. Although senior TNI officers have repeatedly vowed to support reform, they have done next to nothing to hold their members accountable for these heinous crimes. Instead, the TNI has consistently obstructed justice.

I should note that these conditions do not apply to the Indonesian Navy. Congress specifically exempted the Navy because enhancing maritime security is a critical priority.

There are also credible reports that, after 9/11, the TNI provided support to radical Indonesian groups that have been involved in terrorism.

Since 1999, restrictions on our relations with the TNI have been narrowed, and today, as I mentioned, we have a wide range of military-to-military activities.

I am disappointed that some Pentagon officials and my friend from Missouri, rather than acknowledging the extent of the U.S.-Indonesia military relationship and urging the TNI to demonstrate that it is serious about reform by meeting these reasonable conditions, have expressed support for weakening our law.

Indonesia's new President Yudhoyono is a career military officer. He has a reputation as a reformer, and I wish him well. I have always supported substantial economic assistance to Indonesia, in fact, Senator McConnell, the Chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and I have worked to increase this assistance.

Prior to President Yudhoyono's election there were some important reforms which reduced the TNI's influence in politics. But a key gap remains regarding justice for the victims of atrocities, including crimes against humanity. This is the focus of our law, and it is as important to Indonesia and the TNI as it is for the United States. I believe that President Yudhoyono should agree and want the TNI to make these necessary reforms.

I applaud the U.S. military and the TNI for working together to bring aid to tsunami victims in Aceh. But just as our policy should promote cooperation in humanitarian operations and in counter-terrorism, so should it promote respect for human rights, accountability, and the rule of law. These are fundamental to the freedom and democracy that President Bush spoke of in his Inaugural Address. Our law, which was narrowly written to provide an incentive for reform while allowing military contacts to continue, strikes the right balance.

I yield the floor.


Bond Urges Colleagues to Ease Sanctions Against Indonesia Stronger U.S.-Indonesia Relations to Bolster U.S. War on Terror

Contact: Rob Ostrander 202.224.7627 Shana Stribling 202.224.0309

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

WASHINTON, DC B U.S. Senator Kit Bond today urged his colleagues to ease sanctions against Indonesia, calling the country a potential strong ally in the war against terror. Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Bond detailed his eight-day tour of tsunami-devastated Southeast Asia, where he hailed the work of U.S. military and relief agencies and vowed to push for greater cooperation between the U.S. and Indonesia in the future.

“The operations in Indonesia brought into stark reality the unintended consequences of Congressional restrictions placed on our assistance to Indonesia to deal with human rights abuses by the Indonesia military during the times of authoritarian rule in that country through the aftermath of the East Timor referendum,” said Senator Bond. “I have opposed continuation of these sanctions since Indonesia has chosen new leaders democratically, most recently this past fall's election of President Yudhoyono, and the new leadership has made a strong commitment to reform, to the recognition of human rights, and to fighting corruption.”

Current U.S. policy prohibits Indonesian participation in the International Military and Education Training (IMET) program run by our military for our own officers and forces from friendly nations. Bond stressed that IMET provides training in modern military operations, including adherence to the Code of Military Justice, civilian control of the military, respect for human rights, and proper treatment of civilian populations ­ precisely the principles that should be instilled in military forces thought to have been involved in human rights abuses in the past.

Major benefits of the program also include establishing relationships among our military leaders and commanders of friendly foreign forces to assure they understand how to conduct military or relief operations together. In addition, foreign officers learn English language skills so our allied officers can communicate. This lack of training almost resulted in a tragic mid-air collision of U.S. aircraft with an Indonesian military operation.

Also, as a result of this policy Indonesia was denied the ability to purchase necessary spare parts for its C-130 fleet, leaving Indonesia’s fleet of twenty-four planes largely inoperable, slowing the arrival of relief and aid to Tsunami victims.

In addition to a helicopter fly-over of the tsunami devastation, Bond met with newly-elected Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss relief efforts and the possibility of closer ties between the predominantly Muslim country and the United States. Bond emphasized that the United States should use this opportunity to foster stronger ties with Indonesia. Greater cooperation between the two countries will support President Yudhoyono's efforts to improve the economy, end corruption and human rights abuses and foster greater cooperation in the war against terror.

“The tragedy of the tsunami has brought an unparalleled opportunity to invite more Americans to pay attention to an area of the world where we have vital interests. I hope that when the tsunami relief efforts have passed, our friends and neighbors will keep in mind the need to strengthen our relationships in a very critical area of the world,” said Senator Bond.

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