Subject: Tempo: The Tide of US-Indonesian Relations

also: Tempo: Senator Patrick Leahy: "The Indonesian Military Has Not Kept Pace"


May 31-June 06, 2005

The Tide of US-Indonesian Relations President Yudhoyono's visit last week has led to positive developments. The US military assistance program for Indonesia, which was previously frozen, will resume this year. Tempo reports from Washington, DC.

THE smile of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) beamed in Washington, DC. After being frozen by the government of the United States for over a decade, the IMET, or International Military Education and Training program, was reopened. For the 2005 fiscal year, Indonesia will receive assistance of US$600,000 (about Rp5.6 billion).

This, of course, is not a very large amount. To get an idea, in 2002 the United States poured out US$70 million for 113 countries under the IMET program.

Georgia, a former state federated into the Soviet Union, received the largest amount, namely US$25 million (about Rp235 billion), followed by the Philippines (US$10 million), and Tunisia (US$5 million). "Whether or not we will be included in the IMET program next year still depends on how our cooperation with the US develops regarding the handling of the Timika incident. The (US) Congress will continue to keep an eye on it," said Indonesian Ambassador Sumadi Brotodiningrat to Tempo.

The softening of Uncle Sam's stance could be seen from the "certification" done by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, last February. At that time, to Congress, she stated that Indonesia was again deserving to receive military assistance. According to Condy, it was time to end the freeze on the IMET program, which had been in effect since 1992. This was strongly opposed by activists from the East Timor Action Network such as John Miller. "The Certification made by the US State Department is phony and a lie," menaced Miller (read R. William Liddle's column, The TNI, Democracy, and the US).

The shutting down of the IMET program cannot be separated from the Santa Cruz incident which took place in Timor Leste on November 12, 1991. The US Congress feels that leaders of the Indonesian Military (TNI) have not been tried according to the norms of international justice. "The court proceedings which we conducted were thought to be unsatisfactory," said Sumadi. TNI brass whom Congress hold responsible include former TNI Commander in Chief Wiranto, Zacky Anwar Makarim, Kiki Syahnakri, Adam Damiri, and former East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares.

Following the lead of Senator Patrick Leahy, 65, a Democrat from Vermont, Congress agreed to embargo this program, which has been operating for over 50 years: "The Indonesian Military received IMET training from the 1950s to the 1990s. All that time, they were abusive and became protectors of a despotic regime," said Leahy to Tempo (see "The Indonesian Military has not kept pace").

Things became even worse after the incident at Timika in August 2002, in which Rick Spiers, Ted Burgon, and Bambang Riwanto died, and 11 civilians were injured. Among the survivors was Patsy Spiers, Rick's wife, who was extended a special invitation from President Yudhoyono during his visit. Yudhoyono received Patsy during breakfast for 45 minutes. "I felt very honored that I could be slipped into his busy visit schedule," Patsy praised Yudhoyono. "I really feel that he is a man with integrity."

Yudhoyono sent a letter to Patsy dated March 10, 2005, which spelled out his total commitment to find Rick's killer. The problem is, until now, the suspect in the Timika shooting, Anthonius Wamang, has not been caught by the authorities. As a result, when in Indonesia in early May, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick was still outspoken. "I will not be satisfied until the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice." In a written interview with Tempo, Senator Leahy also emphasized the same: "We need certainty that cooperation with the FBI will continue until the case is solved and those responsible for it are punished."

Congress was all the more reluctant with the publication of the report of Dr. Gaye Christoffersen, Strategic Insight: The War on Terrorism in Southeast Asia, March 2002. Christoffersen stated that the Indonesian Military had become "the main facilitator of terrorism" because "they organize, train, and fund radical Muslim militias."

Fortunately, in the Timika case, FBI officers who came to Indonesia gave positive reports regarding their cooperation with the Indonesian National Police.

"The FBI itself has said that we cooperated well," said Sumadi. This FBI recommendation was cited by Sumadi as facilitating the reopening of the IMET program, although not on its previous scale. Meanwhile, the embargo on military spare parts that went into effect after the Santa Cruz incident was relaxed by allowing Indonesia to purchase spare parts for Hercules aircraft, even though this was done on humanitarian grounds as a result of the tsunami disaster.

The next step is the effective opening of Foreign Military Sales and the holding of the 3rd US-Indonesia Security Dialog, which is to be held in Jakarta in mid-2005. Yudhoyono was again all smiles upon hearing Bush's statement during their joint statement at the White House. He said that he trusts President Yudhoyono, and that "this is a first step toward what will be fuller military-to-military cooperation."

Akmal Nasery Basral (Jakarta), Karaniya Dharmasaputra (Washington, DC)



May 31-June 06, 2005

Senator Patrick Leahy: "The Indonesian Military has not kept pace"

IN the midst of leading a United States Senate hearing on the appointment of a Supreme Court judge, Senator Patrick Leahy agreed to answer some questions of Tempo reporter, Karaniya Dharmasaputra, in Washington, DC. This Democratic Party senator from Vermont was first elected to his job in 1974 at the age of 34-the youngest senator ever elected in the state of Vermont. He received a doctorate in law from Georgetown University Law Center in 1964. The 65-year-old  Leahy worked as a prosecutor for Chittenden County for eight years before entering politics. As senator he is active on issues of law enforcement and human rights. Leahy is one of the key figures behind the US military embargo on Indonesia. Excerpts of the interview:

What are your expectations on the meeting between the US and Indonesian presidents?

I hope they discuss the need to continue working together to help the tsunami victims, to reform the military and discuss the need for the Indonesian government to prosecute and punish members of the military who have been involved in human rights abuses, to show the Indonesian people and the world that the military is not above the law.

What is your assessment on the process of democratization in Indonesia and reforms within its armed forces?

Indonesia has made important democratic strides since the end of the Suharto regime. The election of President Yudhoyono is very encouraging. But the Indonesian Military has not kept pace. It remains an unreformed institution that operates outside the law. It has continued to obstruct justice in important human rights cases and to abuse civilians in Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere. It remains deeply involved in illegal logging and in other criminal enterprises.

Analysts believe that the real reason behind the reinstatement of IMET is Bush's objective in obtaining military support on the war against global terrorism. What are your comments on this?

The US wants to work with Indonesia and other allies in Southeast Asia to combat international terrorism, and this is happening. But the White House, like the Congress, also expects to see justice done in the [Papua] case. These are not inconsistent goals.

Do you believe, as the State Department has indicated, that the resumption of

the IMET program will strengthen Indonesia's ongoing democratic process?

Indonesian Military officers received IMET training from the 1950s until the 1990s. During that time, the military became an abusive, corrupt defender of a despotic regime. So I do not see the IMET program as the panacea that some do. That said, I do believe that if the Indonesian Military leadership shows that it is serious about reforms and about respecting human rights, the IMET program can help.

In your opinion should the US government go further and fully restore military cooperation between the two countries to a level before the East Timor case?

First, it is important to note that the US and Indonesian militaries are already cooperating on many fronts, including counter-terrorism. However, our law is very clear. When the Indonesian Military meets the conditions in the law, which include prosecuting and punishing members who have been credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights or to have aided and  abetted militia groups, then full military cooperation can be restored.

Unfortunately, the military has been unwilling to hold its members accountable for even the worst crimes.

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