Subject: CONG: Senator Leahy on Military Aid to Indonesia and East Timor

see also: ETAN: U.S. Congress Upholds Pressure for Human Rights for Indonesia, Timor; Law Will Restrict Military Assistance for Indonesia

[Excerpts from Congressional Record]


[Page: S12648]

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I support the Foreign Operations Conference Report for fiscal year 2006 and urge all Senators to vote its passage.

Like every appropriations bill, there are things in this conference report that I disagree with. There are programs which I, as do many here, believe need substantially more funding than we were able to provide. A good example is our migration and refugee programs. This conference report provides less than the President requested and far less than the Senate bill. The suffering of refugees and displaced people that we are able to relieve but will not because of the scant resources in this bill is shameful and inexcusable. We and other industrialized nations could and should do far more to help them. ...

Another item in this conference report deals with Indonesia.

President Yudhoyono, who was democratically elected, has been advancing reformist policies that we support, including reducing the army's role in the political process. He has also been a reliable ally in fighting terrorism in the world's largest Muslim country.

The conference report provides assistance to the Indonesian Navy in the amount requested by the Administration, and it also provides IMET assistance for Indonesia without restriction. In addition, our largest counterterrorism training program is with Indonesia, and the Defense Department regularly conducts joint exercises and other activities with the Indonesian military.

But one area where there has been no discernable progress is accountability for crimes by the army. In 1992 the Indonesian army shot to death an estimated 200 unarmed protesters in a cemetery in Dili, East Timor. A few low-ranking soldiers were punished, but in a perversity of justice several of the civilians were sent to jail for far longer sentences. Then in 1999, the Indonesian military armed the militias who laid waste to East Timor after the independence referendum. The U.N. identified the top officers involved and accused them of crimes against humanity, but the army sabotaged the government's halfhearted efforts to bring them to justice. Thousands of innocent people died, and no one has been punished.

Some have suggested that because these are ``past'' crimes, we should look forward, not backward. What crime isn't a past crime? Does that make it any less important that justice be done? How do you prevent future atrocities if you let those who order and commit murder get away with it? What is more fundamental to democracy than justice?

For many years, the Congress has put conditions on U.S. assistance to the Indonesian army. The conditions in our law require nothing more than that the army respect the law, yet both Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Rice asked Congress to eliminate the conditions. I understand there are competing concerns and that we and Indonesia have common security interests. I would have supported their request if there were any sign that the Indonesian army is prepared to be accountable to the law for any of these heinous crimes. So far, there is not.

The conference agreement also requires a report on the status of the FBI investigation of the August 2002 murders of two American civilians and one Indonesian civilian in Timika, West Papua. Soon after the killings the Indonesian military tried to frame an innocent man. Then, when the police implicated the military in the attack, the investigation abruptly ended. Nothing happened for another year or so because the military actively impeded further efforts to investigate. Since then, the military has been more cooperative and one West Papuan individual has been indicted in the U.S. But he has yet to be indicted in Indonesia and responsibility for this heinous crime does not stop there. It is now more than three years since this tragedy and no one has been brought to justice.

Finally, the conference report requires a report on the humanitarian and human rights situation in West Papua. ...


Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I want to mention one other item in the Foreign Operations conference report. It does not earmark Foreign Military Financing funds for Timor-Leste, formerly East Timor, the world's newest democracy and a friend of the United States. However, we do not earmark funding for many of the countries for which FMF was requested, but we provide $241.7 million in FMF assistance to cover these needs, including for Timor-Leste. The administration's budget request included $1.5 million in FMF for East Timor. The fact that we did not earmark these funds for Timor-Leste should not be misinterpreted as an indication of any disagreement on the part of the conferees with the administration's request.

Mr. McCONNELL. That is correct. We did not earmark FMF for Timor-Leste but we intend the administration to provide an amount similar to the request. We also provided $1.5 million in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, INCLE assistance for Timor-Leste, for on the ground police training, as well as $19 million in Economic Support Fund assistance. The cut in ESF from the fiscal year 2005 level of $22 million was due, in part, to the earmark in INCLE assistance which had not been requested by the administration.


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