Senate Statements given on Sept. 8 - 14, 1999
September 10, 1999
September 14, 1999
EAST TIMOR -- (Senate - September 08, 1999)Senator Kennedy
Mr. WELLSTONE. Mr. President, while Senator FEINGOLD is in the Chamber, I wish to indicate my support for his effort--our effort--to make it crystal clear to the Government of Indonesia that the brutal murder of the men and women of East Timor has to stop, that we will hold the Government of Indonesia accountable, that we will do everything we can to exert our leverage, including the question of whether there will be any financial assistance, and that the world community is watching. We want to communicate from the floor of the Senate our support to the people of East Timor .
Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I add my voice in praising Senator FEINGOLD for his leadership in the Foreign Relations Committee, on which I serve, on this whole issue of East Timor.
There are some things we can do very quickly in the Senate to send a message to Indonesia that we will not stand by and see this violation of human rights occur.
We have some leverage. We have some agreements. We can make a difference.
Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, before I leave, I want to take a moment to also talk about one other issue. That is the issue of what is happening in Indonesia.
All of us have seen atrocities and read of atrocities in many parts of the world--most recently in Indonesia where we have seen the people of East Timor vote for independence, and they were told by the Government of Indonesia that vote would be respected. Now we see bands of militia-type people that, it is said, could be connected with the Indonesian Government going in and committing terrible acts. This is a terrible thing. It is horrible. We hate to see it.
I think there are many things that can be done.
First and foremost, we must call on Indonesia to do what they said they would do and respect the right of the people of East Timor in their independence.
I also think we should be supportive of those who are volunteering to go over there if necessary. This is where I think we can show some leadership from the United States. I would call on the President to do that. That is not to all of a sudden start talking about sending American troops into East Timor.
I think by beginning to start bandying that around, all of a sudden you are going to start seeing people depend on American troops. I don't think we have to start talking about American troops in East Timor. I think it would be harmful if we did that because of the vast commitment we have in the Balkans right now as well as the DMZ in Korea, as well as in Japan, as well as in Europe, and other places in the world.
No one would ever walk away from the responsibility that America must shoulder as a superpower. But Australia has stepped up to the line to try to help bring an end to the chaos that I hope is temporarily erupting in East Timor. I think we should help them do that by offering logistical support but letting people volunteer.
This is a time when we can look at the areas of the world that have regional conflicts, and we can let the sophisticated countries that have quality military operations be the main part of a force in those areas.
In fact, it appears that Australia, New Zealand, and many others are volunteering to take this policekeeping mission. I think it would be wise for us to let them do that. Let them take that responsibility and offer our logistical help if they need it. But don't start bandying about the possibility of U.S. troops going in on the ground when our troops are stretched so thin--when we have had the worst recruiting year and the worst retention year since the early 1970s because our troops are in mission fatigue. They are not able to stay in top training because they are stretched so thin.
I hope the President will take this opportunity to set a U.S. policy and to work with our allies to have a division of responsibility that is fair.
If we do that, then America will be able to do what only it can uniquely do, and that is the air power that we have shown that we have in the last 6 months. Let us keep our role to responding where only we are able to keep the peace--in the Middle East, in Korea, in Japan, and in parts of Europe. Let's work with our allies for a fair responsibility sharing that will set a precedent so that we will all have the staying power to provide the critical needs in regions as they occur.
I hope President Clinton will take this opportunity to be a leader and to represent the United States and our national security issues and our national security stability. If he will do that, I think you will begin to see a foreign policy that will evolve with all of our allies sharing and keeping all of us strong by not overburdening any one of us to the detriment of all.
Thank you, Mr. President.
September 8, 1999
For Immediate Release
Contact: Will Keyser
It is a privilege to join Senator Feingold on this legislation to prohibit assistance to the Government of Indonesia until that nation permits the peaceful implementation of the results of the August 30 referendum, in which the people of East Timor overwhelmingly voted in favor of independence from Indonesia. This bill sends a clear and strong message to the Government of Indonesia that the United States will hold it responsible for the fate of the East Timorese people.
Tragically, we are now faced with a crisis of alarming proportions as a result of the Indonesian government's failure to disarm the militias and to guarantee the security of the East Timorese people. The militias, together with Indonesian military and security personnel, are committing gross violations of human rights. Hundreds of East Timorese have been killed and tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes, seeking refuge in West Timor. Hundreds have sought asylum in the UN compound in the East Timorese capital of Dili. Bishop Belo's home was burned and he was forced to seek asylum in Australia. UN personnel have been attacked and two were killed. Journalists have been threatened and forced to leave East Timor. The militias and the Indonesian military and security personnel perpetrating this violence must be stopped.
All of us are deeply concerned over the violence and the likelihood of further bloodshed in the coming days. The Indonesian Government must take responsibility for the actions of its military and security personnel. If the Government of Indonesia cannot or will not stop the violence, it must permit the international community to do so. I strongly support the call for an international peacekeeping force, authorized by the United Nations Security Council, to intervene to restore security in East Timor and to implement the results of the referendum.
By stopping all U.S. assistance to Indonesia, this legislation will encourage the Indonesian government to meet its international commitments and to ensure that its military and security forces abide by international law. The United States and the international community must use their economic leverage to encourage the Indonesian government to stop the violence in East Timor and permit a peaceful transition to independence. As long as this crisis continues, international financial institutions must not permit additional resources to flow to the Indonesian government -- resources which could be used by military and security forces to continue the violence. In particular, the International Monetary Fund should not approve the disbursement of the remaining $2 billion of an already-approved $12 billion loan.
The Indonesian government must know that these sanctions will remain in effect until it ensures the safety of the East Timorese people, permits the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor to implement the transition to independence, and ensures that its armed forces abide by the principles of international law.
The people of East Timor need our help. Despite grave threats, they demonstrated great courage and great faith in the democratic process by going to the polls and voting overwhelmingly in favor of independence. The Government of Indonesia has an obligation to respect that verdict and see that it is implemented peacefully. The international community should do all it can to stop the violence and facilitate the peaceful transition to independence.
ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS -- (Senate - September 10, 1999)
[Page: S10735] ---
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, the current situation in East Timor is spiraling dangerously out of control. Members of the international community are meeting to discuss this issue in New Zealand as I speak, while violence is escalating in East Timor and uncertainty is rising in the minds of many about the future of Indonesia as a whole. Indonesia's strategic position in South East Asia, as well as its economic and political stability, are of utmost importance, not only to the United States, but to the international community which has an interest in securing a stable and democratic future for South East Asia and a lasting peace for East Timor.
The Indonesian government holds the primary responsibility for restoring peace and stability to East Timor. I concur wholeheartedly with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that the Indonesian government has so far failed to take adequate steps towards that end. The Indonesian government must move immediately to restore the portion of its credibility that was lost for not preparing adequately for the onslaught of civil strife that was predicted after the August 30 vote. The government must reign in the military factions, disarm the militias, restore law and order on the ground in East Timor, and provide for humanitarian assistance to the thousands of East Timorese who have been displaced from their homes and are fleeing the region. If it cannot, or is unwilling to, then the Indonesian government must accept the international community's offer to send in a peacekeeping force.
To his credit, President Habibie took an important step forward by allowing East Timor's political future to be decided democratically. It truly was significant that for the first time in twenty four years, the Indonesian government made a ballot in East Timor possible. I have long believed that the government should take this action and I have supported numerous pieces of legislation urging the Indonesian government to that effect. However, the Habibie government, once having made the decision to hold a consultation on the future status of East Timor, assumed responsibility for the security of its people during and after the ballot was held.
The international community was watching closely as the May 5, 1999 agreement detailing how the ballot was to be conducted--was signed by the governments of Indonesia and Portugal and the U.N. This agreement held great promise that the future of East Timor could be determined peacefully. However, anti-independence militia leaders refused to sign and refused to disarm, vowing to oppose violently any steps to give the East Timorese their independence. The militia groups have followed
through on their commitments, regrettably. The Indonesian government, I fear, has not.
The Indonesian government, in no uncertain terms, has the responsibility to curb the violence now and work to create a peaceful atmosphere so that the results of the ballot can be implemented. It must also protect the humanitarian missions that remain in East Timor and secure the safe passage of humanitarian aid to the region. No reasonable justification exists for the Indonesian military cutting off the water supply and electricity inside the U.N. Compound. That only leaves us with the question, who is really calling the shots?
Indeed, the history of the Indonesian military is far too bleak to have given it free reign to operate under martial law. We have already seen evidence of the military directly firing on civilians, forcibly removing them from their homes, or just turning a blind eye to the havoc being unleashed on them by the paramilitary forces. I do not believe that martial law--which establishes curfews, enables the military to shoot violators of the curfews on sight, and provides for unwarranted searches--is the step that the Indonesian government should have taken if it wanted to stop the violence and re-establish credibility for itself in the international community.
Martial law has only succeeded in unleashing more violence and greater terror. It is especially problematic since many members of the Indonesian military remain inextricably linked to the militia forces or have joined radical military splinter groups.
I do not believe that the Indonesian government has taken adequate steps, if any at all, to disassociate itself from the civilian militias and to dismantle and disarm them when it became apparent that these groups would not work to bring peace to the region. The human rights abuses they have committed over the years was only a prologue to the devastation they are orchestrating today. The alarm bells were ringing months ago, but was anyone listening?
The Indonesian military's direct involvement in committing human rights abuses and perpetuating violence in Indonesia led me to support a restriction on U.S. arms sales and International Military Education Training (IMET) aid to Indonesia, which Congress initiated in 1993. I believe it is crucial to suspend all of the remaining U.S. military contacts with the Indonesian armed forces and all arms sales to Indonesia.
The outcome of this crisis will have implications not only for East Timor but for Indonesia as a whole. We need to be responsive to the crisis in East Timor, but we must carefully consider the implications of any action on the larger political, economic and social climate in Indonesia.
I believe it is vital for the Indonesian government to accept the international community's offer to send an international peacekeeping force to East Timor and that force must be robust, with the capacity to restore law and order on the ground. The U.S. must continue to work with its allies in the region in order to urge the Indonesian government to invite this force in. I am pleased that the Australian government has taken the lead in this effort by offering up to 7,000 peacekeepers to operate in such a force and has sent war ships to the waters off East Timor as a message to the Indonesian government that the global community is serious.
The East Timor crisis will be, and indeed should be, the top priority for discussion at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum this weekend. There is no issue of greater importance to the region at the moment. I believe that the U.S. must play a strong role in coordinating the efforts of all APEC nations in order to formulate a strong, multilateral response to the crisis. All members of APEC have a direct interest in preventing the further escalation of violence and political instability.
I urge the Administration to continue to work aggressively with APEC nations to make it clear to the Indonesian government that the clock is ticking on a resolution of this issue. In addition to the diplomatic efforts, we must take some steps to demonstrate our own disapproval of the government's response to the situation to date. I support the Administration's decision to cease our direct military-to-military contacts with Indonesia. I believe we also should offer to send humanitarian aid to both East Timor and governments in the region that accept refugees. There are other steps that we can take as well.
That is why I have joined my colleague Senator RUSS FEINGOLD in introducing a bill to suspend international financial assistance to Indonesia pending resolution of the crisis in East Timor. Specifically, this bill would suspend the remaining U.S. military assistance to Indonesia, require the United States to oppose the extension of financial support to Indonesia by international financial institutions such as the IMF, and require Congressional approval before any FY 2000 bilateral assistance to Indonesia may be allocated. I see the introduction of this bill as a way to send a signal--not only to President Habibie, but to all of the players in Jakarta--that we regard this issue very seriously.
Mr. President, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about East Timor and I yield the remainder of my time.
[Page: S10750] --- Sept 13, 1999
Mr. WELLSTONE. Mr. President, in the final 1 minute--and I did not bring any talking points; I do not have it written now--I would like to thank the President. I was critical of the President last week about East Timor, but I think we ought to give credit where credit is due.
I am glad he spoke out. I am glad he put pressure on the Indonesian Government. I know there are a number of important questions to resolve about the nature of whatever kind of peacekeeping force goes in, but the sooner the better because this has been genocide. An awful lot of people have had the courage to stand up against the repressive government, or in this particular case, stand up for the independence of East Timor, that have been murdered. The sooner we get an international presence, an international force in there, the better.
I think the President was forceful this past weekend and should continue to be forceful. We should not let the Indonesian Government delay. The sooner we get a force in there to protect people, and to follow through on the mandate of the people--which was something the United Nations sponsored and supported, where the people voted for their own independence--I think the better off the world will be because whenever our Government can be on the side of human rights, then we
are living up to who we are as a Nation.
I thank my colleagues and yield the floor.
Mr. WYDEN addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, before he leaves the floor, I commend the Senator from Minnesota for an excellent statement. I happen to think those statements reflect his commitment to justice, both here at home and overseas. I commend him for an excellent statement.
I also, before I begin, thank my colleague, the distinguished whip from Nevada. I understand he had the time, and he was gracious enough to give me this opportunity to speak briefly. I thank my good friend from Nevada for the opportunity to speak this afternoon.
EAST TIMOR -- (Senate - September 14, 1999)
[Page: S10847] ---
Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I am horrified by the atrocities occurring in East Timor--where an armed militia is using murder and intimidation to nullify the results of a free and fair referendum. The United States must join the international community in protecting the people of East Timor from mass murder and religious persecution.
During this century, we have seen horrifying examples of dictators and despots whose brutality begins with attacks on the peaceful men and women of the church. This is happening again in East Timor--where members of the Church are being brutally persecuted.
The stories coming out of East Timor are heart-wrenching.
Women and children are massacred within the sanctuary of their churches. Catholic priests, nuns and Caritas workers are being murdered as they try to protect their communities. Nobel Loreate Bishop Beli has been forced into exile. Churches, convents and schools are being burned. Thousands of men, women and children are fleeing from their homes in fear. They are taking refuge in the countryside--where there isn't enough food, water or medicine.
This brutality is occurring with the complicity of the Indonesian military. This is a military that has conducted twenty five years of repression in East Timor. It is a military that the United States has trained and armed.
The international community cannot stand by while civilians are brutally murdered. That is why I support President Clinton's statement of support for US participation in an United Nations peacekeeping force. The force would be led by regional powers--including our strong ally Australia. The United States would help to provide logistical support.
This peacekeeping force would have three goals: to protect the people of East Timor; to restore order and to enable the referendum for independence to be implemented.
The United States must stand up for our interests and our values. We must join our allies in protecting the people of East Timor and restoring peace and stability to their country.
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