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House Bans IMET for Indonesia

From Congressional Record


Reps. Machtley (R-RI); Downey (D-NY); Hall (D-OH); Lowey (D-NY), Machtley (again); Wolf (R-VA); Reed (D-RI)

ETAN Alert

It is now in order to consider amendment No. 4 offered by the gentleman from Rhode Island [Mr. Machtley] and the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Hall].


Mr. MACHTLEY. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Amendment offered by Mr. Machtley: At the end of the bill, page 156, after line 9, add the following:



Sec. 601. Funds appropriated by this Act may not be used for assistance under the heading `International Military Education and Training' for Indonesia.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Rhode Island is recognized for 15 minutes.

Is the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Obey] opposed to the amendment?

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, let me clarify it and state that the committee is prepared to accept the amendment.

The CHAIRMAN. The Chair will state that no Member qualifies in opposition, and the gentleman from Rhode Island [Mr. Machtley] is recognized for 15 minutes, if he desires to use that time, due to the fact that he has won his point with the amendment.

Mr. MACHTLEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

(Mr. MACHTLEY asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. MACHTLEY. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Wisconsin, Chairman Obey, the ranking Republican member, the gentleman from Oklahoma [Mr. Edwards], the gentleman from New York [Mr. McHugh], and other members of the committee are to be deeply commended for their efforts in the committee to put especially strong language with respect to Indonesia in this bill.

In addition, the gentleman from Massachusetts, Chairman Moakley, the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon], and the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Hall] are to be recognized for their assistance in gaining a rule that would permit this amendment on the floor.

And gentlemen, the true appreciation comes from the people of East Timor.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a few moments to explain this amendment because many perhaps on this floor and many Americans are not familiar with the small island called East Timor. And frankly, I myself have only been aware of this situation for several years, but the Portuguese communities of the world must be commended for their demonstration of commitment to human rights for bringing this issue to us and to the human rights caucus in this Congress.

Mr. Chairman, as a member of the human rights caucus, last year I heard the testimony and I saw with my own eyes the unedited version of the brutal massacre of Timonese by the East Indonesian forces which took place on November 12, in Dili, East Timor.

Western journalists Alan Nairn and Amy Goodman, who survived the incident, recounted the terrifying scene of last November.

Nairn himself suffered a fractured skull at the hands of the Indonesians, and they are to be commended for their strong voice in bringing this issue to world attention, and to the other peaceful demonstrations and delegations who have tried to bring this issue to the world's attention, including Brown University's own Dean Targan and Brown students.

These groups are to be commended for their efforts.

Here on the map I want to point out East Timor is in the Indonesian island chain just above Australia. It is only 12,000 square miles, and it has a population or had a population of 700,000 people. Today it has less than 600,000.It was a former Portuguese colony, but in 1975, it was invaded and forcibly annexed to Indonesia. Since 1975, more than 100,000 Timorese, at least a sixth of the almost entire Catholic population, have died of famine, disease, and fighting since this annexation.

The recent history of East Timor is tragic, but it does not have to continue.

Mr. Chairman, I am sure that many of the Members have read Dr. Seuss's books and perhaps they remember `Horton Hears a Who.' It had a very simple message. It was that size and strength does not mean importance and that large powers should not abuse the small and the voiceless, and exactly that is the issue today. East Timor is small. It does not have a large army. It must be heard, and we in this Chamber, we in this country have the rare opportunity to help.

How do we help this country? It is not by giving aid. It is by withholding military aid to Indonesia. We know by reading in the newspapers the bloodshed and tragedy that is occurring in Yugoslavia, and we know the drought and famine and war which has ravaged the Horn of Africa. And unfortunately, we and the world have been frankly powerless to solve these problems. But here in East Timor, we have the power to bring about a change. We are not powerless.

In East Timor, as a percent of their population, more East Timorese have died than were lost to the Cambodian killing fields under the genocide Pol Pot regime.

Today by cutting $2.4 million in United States military assistance to Indonesia, whose security forces have used this money to brutalize a small population of Indonesia, we can send a very strong message. At a time when our demands at home are overwhelming, when we are trying to limit foreign aid, we should take this money and use it in our own cities.

It is absolutely crazy, it makes no rational sense to send one cent to Indonesia for their military to become the modern-day Gestapo of the Far East.

Mr. Chairman, it is time to tell Jakarta, they have been caught redhanded, that they must get along with the world.

I would urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I include for the Record a document entitled `Amnesty International Human Rights Concerns in Indonesia and East Timor.'

Amnesty International Human Rights Concerns in Indonesia and East Timor, June 1992

Amnesty International has learned that an amendment to delete funding for Indonesian armed forces under the United States Government military training program (IMET) will be debated in the near future by members of the House Rules Committee.

As you may be aware, Amnesty International has been documenting gross and systematic human rights violations in Indonesia for a quarter of a century, and in East Timor since 1975. We believe that it is critically important for those who participate in the debate on military training to the Indonesian armed forces to do so in full knowledge of the range, extent and gravity of the human rights violations which have been and continue to be committed by the Indonesian security forces, not only in East Timor but in Aceh and in other regions of Indonesia. In our view there is no evidence that the IMET program has in the past or will in the future improve the behavior of the Indonesian security forces.

In November 1991 the international community was horrified by the Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor. During the massacre at least 100 participants in a peaceful procession were shot in cold blood by Indonesian troops. We wish to state emphatically that, contrary to the claims of the Indonesian Government and the US State Department, the Santa Cruz massacre of 12 November 1991 was not an isolated incident. Tragic though they were, the killings at Santa Cruz were only the most public and incontrovertible example of a long-standing pattern of human rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia.

In Aceh and North Sumatra government efforts to suppress an armed opposition movement have resulted in the extrajudicial execution of an estimated 2,000 civilians since 1989 and in scores of unresolved `disappearances'. In East Timor at least thirty people are believed to have been extrajudically killed during 1990 and early 1991. Hundreds of real or suspected political activists have `disappeared' since 1975, many of them now feared to have been killed. Hundreds, possibly thousands of people have been arrested in the past three years in Aceh, North Sumatra, Irian Jaya and East Timor and been accused of proindependence activities. Many have been held without trial for up to several months. Severe forms of torture and ill-treatment of political detainees are routine in all these regions and have sometimes resulted in death.

More than 150 real or suspected government opponents are prisoners of conscience or possible prisoners of conscience, held throughout Indonesia and East Timor. Most are serving lengthy sentences for subversion imposed after unfair trials. They include university professors, newspaper editors, advocates of independence, students and Islamic scholars. At least 300 other political prisoners and possibly many more continue to serve lengthy sentences imposed after unfair trials. At least 29 political prisoners have been judicially executed since 1985. They include four elderly men who had served more than twenty years in jail on political charges.

The Indonesian Government has insisted that it does not tolerate human rights violations. Yet it has failed to undertake full and public investigations of reported extrajudicial killings, `disappearance' and torture, and has singularly failed to take preventive action to stop further violations. A handful of security force personnel are believed to have been convicted for torturing criminal suspects. But to Amnesty International's knowledge virtually none has been convicted for human rights offenses of a political nature.

After the Santa Cruz massacre, a number of follow-up measures announced by the government created the impression that the authorities were determined to punish those responsible for human rights violations and to ensure that a repetition of these events could not occur. But the government's Commission of Inquiry lacked competence and was in no sense independent. It failed to accurately determine the number of those killed during the massacre; and those who `disappeared' during and after 12 November have yet to be located. In an unprecedented government initiative ten military personnel were subjected to court-martial proceedings for their actions during the massacre; but these officials have now been convicted of minor offenses and are serving prison sentences of between eight to 18 months' imprisonment. In stark contrast, those who organized the 12 November procession--and those who subsequently protested against the massacre--have been charged with subversion and sentenced to terms of imprisonment of up to 15 years. Amnesty International believes that some or all of these detainees are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for legitimate political activity, or for the defense of human rights.

Serious limitations remain on the monitoring of human rights in Indonesia and East Timor. Those who have compiled information about human rights abuse have been subjected to intimidation and torture. Others who have dared to speak out against gross violations have been charged, tried unfairly and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Despite calls by the United Nations for access to be granted to international humanitarian and human rights organizations, such access continues to be severely restricted or denied outright. Amnesty International has not been permitted to visit Indonesia or East Timor for more than 15 years.

The Santa Cruz massacre has justly given rise to serious international concern. But the greater tragedy is that it has taken a massacre--shockingly portrayed in film footage obtained by a foreign journalist--to provoke serious consideration of the human rights crisis in Indonesia and East Timor. We urge members of the committee to take full cognizance of this crisis during the forthcoming debate.

Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Obey].

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I will not take a lot of time. I simply want to say that I accept the amendment, and I would simply say that in contrast to the previous amendment, which shot the victim instead of the perpetrator of the crime, I congratulate the gentleman for having a well-targeted amendment.

The activities that are in question are human rights abuses by the military and the security forces. So the gentleman properly aims his amendment at funding for those forces.

I think that is the right thing to do. I support the amendment.

Mr. MACHTLEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the distinguished gentleman from New York [Mr. Downey].

Mr. DOWNEY. Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate the gentleman from Rhode Island for offering this amendment and for his concern about the Timorese.

Mr. Chairman, most Americans have probably never heard of East Timor. It is literally and figuratively on the other side of the world. But since 1975 when this former Portuguese colony was annexed by Indonesia, an estimated 200,000 people have died as a result of slaughter by Indonesian security forces or by forced starvation. Their only crime was to want independence for their country.

Because Indonesia is a friend of the United States and these events have unfolded thousands of miles away, this tragedy went unnoticed. But in the past several months this tragedy has become the focus of the international spotlight. As a group of men, women, and children gathered for a funeral procession in East Timor in November, Indonesian security forces indiscriminately opened fire on the crowd and killed an estimated 75 to 100 civilians.

This episode came to light because of the courage of Western journalists, particularly two Americans named Allan Nairn and Amy Goodman. Amy, a Long Islander, personally recounted to me how she tried to stop this massacre. She was beaten by the troops and only her American passport saved her from certain death. Amy and Allan came back to the United States to make sure that the world would know about the tragedy in East Timor.

We cannot ignore this tragedy on the other side of the world. The amendment before us today calls for a curtailment of American military assistance to Indonesia. It will send a loud and clear signal to the Indonesian Government that the events in East Timor have not gone unnoticed. It also makes a clear statement that although the world has changed, America's moral responsibility to fight tyranny and oppression remains the same.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Rhode Island is advised that he has 8 minutes remaining.

Mr. MACHTLEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Hall].

Mr. HALL of Ohio. Mr. Chairman, I will be very brief. I want to thank the gentleman from Rhode Island [Mr. Machtley] for making this amendment possible.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment offered by the gentleman from Rhode Island [Mr. Machtley], which I am pleased to cosponsor with him. This amendment is the first step toward passing the provisions of H.R. 5176, the bill we have introduced together to suspend aid to Indonesia because of that country's invasion and repression of East Timor.

First of all, I want to commend the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Obey] and the gentleman from New York [Mr. McHugh] for including strong language in the committee report about Indonesia and East Timor. It is especially noteworthy that the report says, `The Committee continues to believe that the people of East Timor are entitled to self-determination.' The purpose of my bill is to help move United States policy to back self-determination for East Timor, and this report puts the committee and the House on record in solid support of a referendum on Timorese self-determination.

But our words have to be accompanied by action. During the 13 years I have been working to promote human rights in East Timor, the Indonesians have not been moved by our words. We need action to tell them how serious we are about respect for human rights and self-determination for East Timor.

The committee report says that Indonesia should not receive international military education and training [IMET] funds in fiscal 1993. The amendment we are offering simply makes the ban on IMET for Indonesia explicit in the bill itself.

Some argue that IMET helps to professionalize the Indonesian military. But this is the same military that opened fire on unarmed Timorese civilians at Santa Cruz cemetery. And the same military that gave sentences of only 18 months or less to the 10 soldiers it court-martialed. In contrast, Timorese civilian demonstrators got sentences as high as 9 and 10 years. Under Indonesian rule, there is no justice for East Timor.

I see no reason why we should reward Indonesia's Armed Forces with more military aid. The people we have been arming for years have used our weapons to kill, terrorize, and repress the people of East Timor. It's time to stop business as usual with Indonesia, and this amendment is the first action we can take: Cutting $2.3 million in IMET.

This amendment allows us both to save money and stand for principle. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of it.

Mr. MACHTLEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from New York [Mrs. Lowey].

Mrs. LOWEY of New York. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment offered by Mr. Machtley, Mr. Hall, and Mr. Downey to suspend military aid to Indonesia.

Since 1975, Indonesia has ruthlessly enforced its illegal occupation of East Timor. It is estimated that 200,000 people have been slaughtered as a result of this brutal occupation, which flies in the face of international law.

For years, the distinguished chairman of the Select Committee on Hunger, Mr. Hall, has been tirelessly working to bring world attention to the tragic human rights abuses which have plagued East Timor since Indonesia began its occupation. Since entering the Congress, I have stood with him every step of the way.

Unfortunately, it took a vicious massacre observed by American journalists Allan Nairn and Amy Goodman to make the world take notice. That massacre, as well as numerous other incidents characterized by violence and inhumanity, resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of innocent people. To reject this amendment would be to ignore those tragedies.

Last year, we adopted a resolution calling on the administration to suspend military aid to Indonesia and to prod the Indonesian Government to punish those responsible for the massacres. They have not done so. Military aid to Indonesia continues.

Since the administration refused to listen to Congress last year when this action should have been taken, we have been left with no choice but to terminate military assistance to Indonesia by adopting this amendment. This amendment holds Indonesia responsible for its atrocious record during the occupation of East Timor. It will prevent U.S. tax dollars from contributing to the ongoing unlawful occupation and the horrors that are being committed there.

We must do everything possible to demonstrate that the United States will not condone the massacres or the continued occupation of East Timor. I know that many of my constituents object to their tax dollars aiding the abuses perpetrated in East Timor, and I feel confident that most Americans share their view.

I strongly urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

Mr. MACHTLEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I wish to commend the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Hall] for his tireless effort on this issue, but I also think it is important that we point out that this is just the beginning. What we are asking for is that Indonesia recognize the human rights of the East Timorese; second, that they permit them to determine what form of government they wish. This was a brutal annexation of a small island. This was not a plebicite on the part of the East Timorese.

Third, that they permit an international group, congressional, senatorial folks, to look and see what is the condition, what are the human rights conditions which are in East Timor. If they do not, then we will be back and we will be back with further cuts in their foreign aid.

This is the beginning. It is now up to Indonesia to take the next step.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to my distinguished colleague, the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Wolf].

Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I was sitting in my office and saw that this amendment was offered and want to urge my colleagues to support it. I followed what went on here for the last year. Four of the students who were involved in the demonstration have now been charged with offenses for which they can even lose their lives. Clearly this was a peaceful demonstration. We had hearings before the human rights caucus whereby we watched the entire film. There were two reporters there who filmed this. Innocent, mainly young students, but men and women were slaughtered and killed by the army. I think the support of this amendment will send a positive message to the Indonesian Government that the United States Congress and the people of the United States care very deeply; although this is on an island far away where few people have ever been, that they cannot hide there.

I strongly urge those who care about human rights and about decency and about persecution, urge them strongly to support this amendment. I rise in the strongest possible way.

Mr. REED. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the amendment introduced by Mr. Hall, Mr. Downey, Mr. Frank, and Mr. Machtley, my colleague from Rhode Island, which terminates military assistance to Indonesia under the International Military Education and Training [IMET] Program.

The Indonesian Government has a long history of human rights abuses in the former Portuguese Colony of East Timor and these violations continue to occur. One of the most vicious of these abuses occurred on November 12, 1991. On this day, Indonesian troops opened fire on a procession of several thousand unarmed civilians, killing over 100 people. As a former soldier, I cannot stand by and allow U.S. tax dollars to fund the training of troops who, in turn, massacre innocent civilians.

If Indonesia continues to violate the human rights of the citizens of East Timor, the United States has an obligation to place pressure on Jakarta. I support the termination of IMET funding. Aid to Indonesia should be limited to programs, projects, and activities that are directed at the needs of Indonesia's poor and addressing compelling environmental problems.

I join many of my constituents in expressing support for the people of East Timor and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this amendment, which demonstrates to the people of East Timor that the United States will not turn a blind eye to their plight.

The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Rhode Island [Mr. Machtley].

The amendment was agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute, as amended.

The committee amendment in the nature of a substitute, as amended, was agreed to.

Alert on Senate action for IMET and arms sales

House of Representatives Cuts Funding for Indonesian Military!

The Senate will act the week of July 20. Ask them to stop weapons sales as well.

Action alert from East Timor Action Network/US, July 9, 1992

The House of Representatives decided June 25 to stop funding the Indonesian military. An amendment by Ronald Machtley (R-RI) and Tony Hall (D-OH) to delete $2.3 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET) funding for Indonesia from the fiscal 1993 foreign aid appropriations bill (H.R.5368) was approved by unanimous voice vote. Although non-binding resolutions have passed before, this is the first time Congress supported has the East Timorese people by cutting funding.

The Indonesian newsweekly Tempo called the cut “the strongest message ever delivered by the US Congress concerning East Timor.” Under IMET, the US has trained more than 2,600 officers since Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, and about 150 Indonesian officers attend U.S. war colleges under the program. Their Navy Chief of Staff said “Personally, I regret this loss. But as an official, I’m not allowed to say things like that.” Jakarta’s official line has been “indifference” accompanied by threats to withdraw from joint military exercises and seek other partners for defense cooperation.

In addition to Congressmen Machtley and Hall, Thomas Downey (D-NY), David Obey (D-WI), Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) spoke for the amendment; nobody spoke against it. Machtley told his colleagues “this is only the beginning.” Together with Hall and others, he has introduced H.R.5176, a bill to suspend military and economic aid, arms sales, and trade preferences for Indonesia until Indonesia withdraws from East Timor and allows a UN-supervised plebiscite for Timorese self-determination.

The Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee will mark up the bill during the week of July 20. Call or write Subcommittee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), urging him to support the IMET cut and go further by halting commercial and government (FMS) arms sales. During fiscal 1992, the US delivered $116 million in commercial weaponry to Indonesia and signed $15 million in new FMS agreements. In fact, the US has supplied the bulk of the weapons the Indonesian military has used to kill 200,000 people (one-third of the population) in East Timor over the past 17 years.

In addition to Leahy, you should contact your own Senator and Claiborne Pell (D-RI, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee). Leahy’s subcommittee includes Democrats Daniel Inouye (HI), J. Bennett Johnston (LA), Dennis DeConcini (AZ), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Tom Harkin (IA), and Barbara Mikulski (MD). Republicans (not to be written off on this issue) are Robert Kasten (WI), Mark Hatfield (OR), Alfonse D’Amato (NY), Warren N. Rudman (NH), Arlen J. Specter (PA) and Don Nickles (OK). Senators can be written at US Senate, Washington, DC 20510. Pell’s phone is (202)224-4242; Leahy’s (202)224-4642. All Senators and Representatives can be called at (202)224-3121.

During the three days the House amendment was being considered, the East Timor Action Network deluged the House with faxes and calls from around the country. We must repeat that for the Senate. Let us know if you would like to be on ETAN’s fax/email rapid response list.

On November 12, 1991, the Indonesian military shot into a peaceful funeral procession, slaughtering over 140 unarmed Timorese civilians. In the wake of this atrocity, the Pentagon suggested increasing IMET funding for Indonesia from $1.9 to $2.3 million, claiming that it would impart human rights values to the Indonesian army. This would be like rewarding a bank robber with an M-16 while warning him that he mustn’t use it. Similarly, canceling IMET while continuing to sell weapons is hypocritical complicity in the genocidal policies of the Indonesian military dictatorship. 27 years is enough!


Sample letter to Senator Leahy:

International Human Rights Law Group
1601 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009

July 9, 1992

Senator Patrick Leahy
Chairman, Foreign Operations Sub-Committee
Senate Appropriations Committee
S-128 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20510-6015

Dear Senator Leahy,

The U.S. Senate now has the opportunity to take effective action to curb Indonesian abuses in occupied East Timor.

The International Human Rights Law Group, a public interest law center which seeks to bring international human rights norms to play in the foreign policy process, urges you to uphold Sections 116 and 502(B) of the Foreign Assistance Act by cutting off aid to Indonesia for its consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights in Timor.

As you know, the House of Representatives approved the Machtley-Hall amendment to the FY’93 Appropriations Bill cutting off training to the Indonesian military under the IMET (International Military Education and Training) program.

Under IMET, the U.S. has trained more than 2,600 Indonesian officers since Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. During that time an estimated 200,000 East Timorese – one third of the population – have been killed, many of them victims of massacre and execution and an army policy of enforced starvation. Last November 12, Indonesian troops killed at least 140 East Timorese at a memorial procession in Dili, the capital of East Timor. The massacre was witnessed by international journalists, including two Americans who were beaten by the troops. Wounded Timorese were left to bleed to death in the road, as the army sealed the area and kept them from receiving medical attention. Many Timorese who witnessed the massacre were subsequently “disappeared;” there are reports that many have been executed.

The Senate has a chance to reaffirm the House action and to use its own discretion to halt the flow of all U.S. military goods and services to the armed forces of Indonesia. As you know, the U.S. provides Indonesia with both commercial and FMS military sales. In FY’92 there were $115,842,000 in U.S. commercial military deliveries, as well as an estimated $15,000,000 in new FMS agreements. For FY’93 the Pentagon and State Department project $69,505,000 in commercial deliveries and another $15,000,000 in FMS agreements.

Beyond this, we would urge you also to support the withholding of economic aid along the lines proposed in HR 5176 (“Bill to Promote Self-Determination of East Timor”) which would cut most US aid to Indonesia (including weapons deliveries and economic assistance) and impose trade sanctions until Indonesia complies with UN resolutions calling on it to withdraw its armed forces from East Timor and allow the Timorese a UN-supervised vote to determine their future political status.

Thanking you for your consideration of this matter, I remain

Yours truly,

Reed Brody, Executive Director

Return to Congressional Action on East Timor: Statements, etc.

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