etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer ETAN Opposes Continued Training in Violation of Ongoing Ban on Military Ties with Indonesia

For Immediate Release Feb 24, 2000

Contact John M. Miller; (718)596-7668; (516)317-6257 (mobile) Lynn Fredriksson; (202)544-6911

The East Timor Action Network condemned continued training by the U.S. of Indonesian military officers as a violation of a Congressional ban on military ties with Indonesia.

The Washington Post recently reported that seven officers participating in the E-IMET (the "expanded" International Military Education and Training) program remained in the U.S. after President Clinton cut all, weapons transfers and other military ties with Indonesia in the wake of brutal military and militia violence in East Timor following its pro-independence vote. The officers have recently resumed their classes.

"The training of the Indonesian officers must cease. It violates the law and demonstrates the Pentagon's continued disregard of congressional intent and human rights," said Lynn Fredriksson, Washington Representative of the East Timor Action Network.

In November, Congress set six specific conditions Indonesia must meet before receiving almost any U.S. military assistance. These include ensuring the safe return of over 100,000 East Timorese refugees trapped in militia-controlled camps in West Timor and prosecuting those responsible for atrocities committed against the people of East Timor. The conditions also require Indonesia to actively prevent militia incursions into East Timor. The restrictions are part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act which specifically bans E-IMET and IMET training.

"Rather than sending false signals to an Indonesian military still far from civilian control, the Pentagon should follow the law and end the training," said Fredriksson. "Decades of U.S. military training of the Indonesian military did nothing to temper their abusive behavior. There is no reason to believe that training now will lead to improvements. The best way to support Indonesian democracy is to follow a policy that makes clear to the Indonesian military that normal military relations are impossible until rights abuses end and the military fully withdraws from politics," she added.

Some U.S. officials have argued that the Indonesian military is being reformed and relations should be restored. (They point to the potential prosecution of General Wiranto, but Indonesia's President Wahid has said he will pardon him if convicted.) But the U.S. suspension remains in place, as it should, while human rights abuses by the Indonesian military continue in Aceh and West Papua as well as West Timor.

Shortly after President Clinton announced the cutting of military ties, Indonesia agreed to withdraw from East Timor and allow in an Australian-led multi-national peacekeeping force, measures it had previously resisted.

The East Timor Action Network/US was founded in November 1991, following the massacre of more than 271 peaceful demonstrators in Dili, East Timor. ETAN/US supports independence and human rights for the people of East Timor and democracy and human rights in Indonesia. ETAN has 28 local chapters.