|Indonesian NGOs Oppose Resumption of Military Ties with
For Immediate Release
June 12, 2000
Contact: John M. Miller,
+1-718-596-7668; +1-917-690-4391 (mobile) (New York)
Ifdhal Kasim, ELSAM, +62-21-791-92564 (Jakarta)
Six prominent Indonesian NGOs stated their opposition to any resumption
of U.S.-Indonesian military ties in a letter to members of the Clinton
administration. The groups called U.S. military assistance to the Indonesian military
(TNI) "indefensible" and warned that any ""positive
effect the US suspension [of military ties in September 1999] has had is
now in danger of being squandered."
"We are perplexed by the alacrity with which the Pentagon is
resuming normal relations with the TNI since none of the conditions which
the Congress stipulated last November in the Foreign Operations
Appropriation law have been met," the NGOs
wrote to key members of the Clinton administration.
On September 9, President Clinton suspended all U.S. ties with the
military as Indonesian troops and their militia allies set about to
systematically destroying East Timor following its pro-independence vote.
Congress put part of this ban into law late last year. The FY 2000 Foreign
Operations Appropriations Act stipulates conditions which must be met
before normal military ties can be restored. These include the return of
refugees to East Timor and prosecution of military and militia
members responsible for human rights atrocities in East Timor and
Indonesia. They also require Indonesia to actively prevent militia
incursions into East Timor and to cooperate fully with the UN
administration in East Timor.
"We do not ask the U.S. government to actively assist the
pro-democracy movement in Indonesia. We do, however, ask the US government
to make our job easier by stopping its aid to our greatest obstacle: the
Indonesian military," the NGOs wrote.
"Given that the Indonesian military makes no distinction between
national defense and domestic policing (it is all 'national security'),
the US government must admit that any training and aid provided to the
military can just as easily be used against Indonesian citizens as
external enemies.... Until the TNI renounces its 'dual function'
doctrine which justifies its interventions into domestic politics, US
military aid to it is indefensible," the Indonesian NGOs added.
The NGOs are especially "disturbed by indications that the U.S.
Pentagon is trying to push forward a participatory exercise known as
Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) this summer. We know of
previous CARAT exercises and are keenly aware of their use to train
Indonesian officers in assault tactics, despite their being described by
some as 'humanitarian operations.' In fact, last year, military personnel
trained in CARAT left right from that training to join the military’s
criminal actions in East Timor after its vote for independence."
Addressing the congressional conditions, the NGOs wrote that "the
West Timor refugee problem still exists, the military officers responsible
for crimes against humanity ... in East Timor last September have not yet
been brought to justice (and may well never be brought to justice given
the serious flaws in the government’s judicial process for the case),
and the military remains an institution largely unaccountable to the
civilian leadership. Most importantly, the military has not disbanded the
East Timorese militias..."
The letters were sent Secretary of State Albright,
Secretary of Defense Cohen and National Secuirty Advisor Sandy Berger.
Signing the letter were Johnson Panjaitan, Director, Legal Aid and
Human Rights Association of Indonesia (PBHI); Ifdhal Kasim, Director,
Institute of Research and Human Rights Advocacy (ELSAM); Hilmar Farid,
Vice-Director, Volunteer Team for Humanity (TRK) Munir, Director,
Commission for Disappeared Persons and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS);
Lefidus Malau, Solidarity Forum with the People of East Timor (FORTILOS);
and Binny Buchori, Executive Secretary, Indonesian NGO Forum on Indonesian
Text of Letters
ETAN's Press Release on Resumption of Military Ties
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