|For Immediate Release September 27, 1999
Contact: Karen Orenstein, (202)544-6911 John M. Miller, (718)596-7668; (516)317-6257 (mobile)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passes Freeze on Military Relations with Indonesia
Normal Relations Must Wait at Least Until Resolution of East Timor Crisis
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee tonight passed legislation banning military cooperation with Indonesia "until the results of the August 30, 1999, vote in East Timor have been implemented."
The Senate bill (S 1568) would bind into law the Clinton administration's temporary ban on military assistance and financial assistance to Indonesia. The bill bans military assistance (training, government transfers, and commercial sales) to Indonesia until certain conditions are met -- including a safe and secure environment in East Timor, an end to anti-independence military and militia violence, and the return home of refugees and displaced persons.
The full Senate is expected to take up the measure on Tuesday, September 28.
"We are very pleased the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed this crucial bill. The situation in East Timor remains desperate and all forms of pressure must be maintained on the Indonesian military until it fully honors the East Timorese' overwhelming vote for independence," said Lynn Fredriksson, Washington Representative of the East Timor Action Network/U.S.
On September 10, President Clinton announced the suspension of military assistance to Indonesia after the Indonesian military and their militias began their campaign of destruction in East Timor.
An estimated three-quarters of the population has been forcibly displaced by the Indonesian military and their militias. "East Timorese in the mountains and in refugee camps in West Timor are at great risk from starvation, dehydration, and disease. Many of the refugees are under threat of military attack," said Fredriksson.
"The Indonesian armed forces (TNI) must fully withdraw (including Kopassus Special Forces and Intelligence units before the U.S. administration reestablishes financial and military assistance. Since the TNI abuse human rights in Indonesia itself, bans on military assistance should remain in place until there are fundamental changes Indonesian military," she added.
The bill also requires the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the United States executive directors to the international financial institutions vote against financial assistance to Indonesia. The World Bank and IMF have refused to move forward on further funding to Indonesia.
The Senate bill was introduced by Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) and co-sponsored by Jesse Helms (R-NC) and over a dozen other Senators. Similar legislation (HR 2895) is awaiting action in the House of Representatives.
TEXT OF THE BILL S. 1568
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