Subject: AFP: US aided Indon military in covert programme: report
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 20:49:15 EDT

The text of the article was sent by Joyo several minutes ago

US aided Indonesian military in covert programme: report

LONDON, Sept 19 (AFP) - Indonesian military forces linked to the violence in East Timor were trained in the United States under a covert programme sponsored by the Clinton administration, the Observer newspaper reported here Sunday.

The newspaper also said London had spent around one million pounds training more than 50 members of the Indonesian military in Britain.

Human rights campaigners claim a number of those trained in Britain and the United States are likely to have links with those involved in atrocities against supporters of independence in East Timor.

The US programme, codenamed Iron Balance, was hidden from legislators and the public when Congress curbed the official schooling of Indonesia's army after a massacre in 1991, the newspaper said.

It said the programme continued until last year.

Quoting Pentagon documents, the Observer said one of the units trained was the Kopassus special forces unit, an elite force with a "bloody history".

The force was built up with US expertise despite awareness of its role in the genocide of about 200,000 people in the years after the invasion of East Timor by Indonesia in 1975, the report said.

Rights organisation Amnesty International describes Kopassus as "responsible for some of the worst human rights violations in Indonesia's history."

The training programme, conducted under a Pentagon project called Joint Combined Education and Training, included urban guerrilla warfare, surveillance, counter-intelligence and sniper marksmanship, the newspaper said.

The US-trained commanders were said to include the son-in-law of former Indonesian President Suharto, Prabowo Subianto, and General Kiki Syahnakri, the man appointed last week as commissioner for martial law in East Timor.

The covert programme became the focus for training after Congress stepped in to curtail official aid in 1991 after 270 peaceful protesters were massacred by Kopassus as they paraded through the East Timor capital Dili.

The Observer said that since May 1997, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour government was elected, 24 senior members of the Indonesian military had passed through British military colleges.

A further 29 officers reportedly studied at non-military establishments.

The revelations are likely to further embarrass the British government, whose so-called "ethical foreign policy" has already come under fire over dealings with Indonesia, including arms exports to Jakarta.

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