|Subject: AP: Papua Ambush Victim's Wife
Urges Rice to Keep Ban on Indon Military
Also: USGOV: Biden-Rice on Timika killings
Widow of American killed in Papua ambush urges Rice to keep ban on Indonesian army
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, AP
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan. 27 (AP) - The widow of an American schoolteacher killed in a 2002 attack initially blamed on Indonesian soldiers urged the Bush administration Friday not to lift a ban on military ties with Jakarta until the case if fully resolved.
The effort to normalize ties between the two militaries received a boost after last month's tsunami when thousands of U.S. troops were deployed to work with Indonesian forces to handle relief efforts.
"The Indonesian people have suffered through so much because of the latest natural disaster, but we must not let the tsunami wash away the need to address human rights abuses from the past," Patsy Spier said in a telephone interview from her home in Littleton, Colorado.
Her husband Rick, another American teacher, Ted Burgon of Sunriver, Oregon, died in the Aug. 31, 2002 ambush by gunmen near the giant Timika gold and copper mine in Papua province.
Eight other Americans - including a six-year-old child - were wounded.
Indonesian police blamed a special forces unit for the killings. The attack was seen as an effort by the military unit to discredit the pro-independence movement in the province, whose mainly Christian inhabitants have been strongly opposed to Indonesian rule since the region was forcibly incorporated 35 years ago.
A subsequent FBI probe led to the indictment by a U.S. grand jury of an Indonesian citizen, Anthonius Wamang in connection with the attack. Wamang, who pro-independence activists maintain is a military informer, remains at large.
Washington first imposed a ban on military ties with Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, in 1999, after its troops had devastated the Roman Catholic province of East Timor following a U.N.-organized independence referendum.
Congress later passed legislation making the reestablishment of contacts contingent on Jakarta's cooperation in bringing to justice those responsible for both the Timor and Timika cases.
But the Bush administration, spearheaded by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - a former ambassador to Jakarta - has been keen to improve military ties with the strategically located nation that straddles critical sea lanes linking the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Indonesia is also seen as an important ally in the war on terrorism.
Western diplomats in Jakarta predict that new Secretary of State Rice Condoleezza Rice may soon lift the restrictions on Indonesia's involvement in the Pentagon's International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.
The training program, worth about US$600,000 (euro460.617,23), is designed to foster professional links between the two militaries. But restoring it is generally seen as a first step in the lifting of the ban on military-to-military ties.
"I am not blaming the Indonesian military for the Timika attack," Spier said. "The whole point is just to have a proper investigation."
She said she disagreed with Rice's testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, when Rice said Indonesian authorities had cooperated in the FBI probe which had uncovered no evidence implicating the military.
Spier noted that in the past six months Indonesian authorities have not even issued an arrest warrant for Wamang.
"My advocacy in all of this is for a transparent investigation, to find the truth in who carried out the ambush and who ordered it," Spier said.
"What message will the United States be sending to the new Indonesian government if we certify (IMET) funds when the man who is indicted by a US grand jury has not been apprehended."
Questions from Senator Joseph R. Biden Nomination hearing for Dr. Condoleezza Rice January 18 & 19, 2005
Indonesia - Timika Murders
No suspect has yet been brought to justice for murder of two U.S. citizens in Timika in August 2002. Initial reports, by both Indonesian police and the State Department, implicated the Indonesian military in the attack. In June, however, Attorney General Ashcroft shifted the blame to an alternate suspect, and downplayed a possible connection to the Indonesian military (TNI). In the meantime, the suspect remains at large, well documented ties between him and the TNI remain unexplored in official accounts of the case, and there appears to be no effort under way to advance the investigation.
Question #1 (a):
Do you believe the FBI's investigation exonerates the TNI, or do you believe more investigation needs to be done? If more needs to be done, what do you intend to do to persuade the Indonesians to cooperate?
The arrest and prosecution of Anthonius Wamang, who was indicted by the FBI for the murder of two American citizens, is one of our top priorities. Although the investigation is not complete, the FBI has uncovered no evidence indicating TNI involvement in the Timika murders. We know President Yudhoyono understands the importance of this matter to the United States and trust that the Government of Indonesia will take the appropriate actions to achieve justice in this case.
Question 1 (b):
If the case remains stalled-with no suspect in jail, no investigation actively probing alleged ties to TNI, no plans for any movement in the future-would you support a resumption of IMET training to the Indonesian military?
IMET for Indonesia is in the US interest. In FY05, we have allocated $600,000 in IMET funds (includes E-IMET) for Indonesia. The aim of IMET is to strengthen the professionalism of military officers, especially with respect to the norms of democratic civil-military relations such as transparency, civilian supremacy, public accountability, and respect for human rights. The GOI has demonstrated cooperation as required. We are currently evaluating whether to issue the required determination.
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