see also Congress Bolsters Ban on Training for
Indonesia With One Bill, While Opening a Loophole with Another
East Timor Action Network/U.S.
Rights Groups Condemn End Run on Military Training Restrictions for Indonesia
New Defense Appropriations Provision Called "Sneak Attack"
on Human Rights
December 20, 2001 -- The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) and East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today strongly condemned a provision in the Defense Department Appropriations bill (HR 3338) aimed at funding U.S. training of the Indonesian military (TNI).
"This is a sneak attack undermining hard-won restrictions on military training for Indonesia and other severely abusive militaries,” said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) inserted language (section 8125) appropriating $21 million to establish a Regional Defense Counter-terrorism Fellowship Program at the behest of Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC). There are no restrictions on which countries can participate in the new program, allowing training for Indonesia. Both men have long opposed existing congressional bans on training for the TNI.
The Secretaries of Defense and State will jointly decide which countries will be eligible for the program, but existing legislated restrictions on training for Indonesia will not apply. Training will likely take place in the Asia-Pacific Center in Hawaii, which works closely with CINCPAC. The appropriations bill is expected to pass this week.
"Counter-terrorism must not be used as an excuse to resume training for a military which terrorizes its own people and continues to enjoy impunity for its scorched-earth campaign in East Timor," said Kurt Biddle, Washington Coordinator of IHRN. "The bill does not specify what will be taught in the program. There is no requirement preventing these funds from being used to train the Indonesian military, and we don't think they should."
The Pentagon's move to circumvent the congressional ban on International Military Education and Training (IMET) is remarkably similar to their Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program. JCET was suspended in spring 1998 following congressional and grassroots outrage. Under JCET, U.S. soldiers trained Indonesian special forces in a variety of terror tactics.
Congress first voted to restrict IMET for Indonesia, which brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training, in response to the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor. All military ties were severed in September 1999 as the Indonesian military and its militia proxies razed East Timor following its pro-independence vote. The conditions codified into law in late 1999 include the safe return of East Timorese refugees, prosecution of those responsible for atrocities in East Timor and Indonesia, and security for East Timor from military and militia activity. None of these conditions have been met. The Foreign Operations appropriations bill is expected to pass this week.
“Until the Indonesian military and government comply with the very reasonable conditions in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the U.S. government should not be training Indonesian military personnel. These restrictions were put in place for a reason,” added Miller.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) advocates for democracy, sustainable development, justice and human rights, including women's rights, for the people of East Timor. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975. See http://www.etan.org.
The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability and rule of law in Indonesia. IHRN seeks to end armed forces repression in Indonesia by exposing it to international scrutiny. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen civil society.
CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 3338,
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2002 --
The conferees included a general provision (Section 8125) which amends Senate language establishing a new Regional Counter- terrorism Fellowship program to be administered by the Secretary of Defense. The conferees expect the Department of Defense to coordinate this program with the State Department and specifically recommend that it keep the relevant United States Ambassadors informed.
[Original Senate Language:]
SEC. 8125. In addition to amounts provided elsewhere in this Act, $17,900,000 is hereby appropriated for the Secretary of Defense, to remain available until expended, to establish a Regional Defense Counter-terrorism Fellowship Program: Provided, That funding provided herein may be used by the Secretary to fund foreign military officers to attend U.S. military educational institutions and selected regional centers for non-lethal training: Provided further, That United States Regional Commanders in Chief will be the nominative authority for candidates and schools for attendance with joint staff review and approval by the Secretary of Defense: Provided further, That the Secretary of Defense shall establish rules to govern the administration of this program.
Rights Groups Denounce Boost In US-Indonesia Military Ties
JAKARTA, Dec. 21 (AP) -- Human rights groups denounced Friday a plan by the U.S. administration to resume military cooperation with Indonesia as part of a wider anti-terrorist effort in Southeast Asia, thus circumventing existing U.S. congressional restrictions.
"This is dangerous," said Munir, the founder of Kontras, Indonesia's most prominent human rights organization. "The Indonesian military will become stronger and return to the political scene if this materializes."
The U.S. Congress Thursday passed a massive, $318 billion defense appropriations bill, which includes a provision for the establishment of a counter-terrorism training program for Southeast Asian armies.
There are no restrictions on which countries can take part in the new $21 million program, thus allowing for the participation of Indonesian officers. The training will likely take place in the Asia-Pacific Center in Hawaii.
Adm. Dennis C. Blair, head of the U.S. Pacific Command which is also based in Hawaii, visited Jakarta last month as part of a tour of the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries where Islamic militants have been active.
He said the U.S. was prepared to resume military collaboration with Indonesia to combat efforts by international terrorist groups to install themselves in the region.
Ties have been largely suspended since 1999, when the Indonesian army laid waste to East Timor following a U.N.-supervised independence referendum there.
At the time, legislation sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, prohibited U.S. military assistance to Indonesia's armed forces because of its role in the devastation of East Timor.
The law, which remains in force, requires that Jakarta cooperate with investigations and prosecutions of members of the armed forces responsible for abuses. Human rights groups say none of these conditions have been met.
But the legislation passed late Thursday will sidestep the so-called Leahy amendment by specifically earmarking assistance to countries supporting U.S. counter-terrorism efforts. Jakarta denounced the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. and vowed to help combat international terrorism.
A recent push by the administration of George W. Bush and spearheaded by Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy U.S. secretary of defense and former American ambassador in Jakarta - to re-establish relations with the Indonesian military has been sharply criticized by rights groups.
"Counter-terrorism must not be used as an excuse to resume training for a military which terrorizes its own people and continues to enjoy impunity for its scorched-earth campaign in East Timor," Kurt Biddle, an analyst with the Washington-based Indonesia Human Rights Network, said in a statement released Friday.
The bill allowing the officer-training program with Indonesia to go ahead was denounced by the East Timor Action Network.
"This is a sneak attack undermining hard-won restrictions on military training for Indonesia and other severely abusive militaries," said John M. Miller, spokesman for the group.
The Indonesian military was the power behind the brutal 32-year dictatorship of former President Suharto - himself a five-star general. It has traditionally relied on the U.S. as its main source of weapons, including air force combat and transport planes and navy warships.
During Suharto's reign, the army exerted tight control, repressing all opposition and using force to ensure the unity of the ethnically, religiously and racially disparate archipelago. It committed extensive human rights abuses and earned lasting enmity from large sections of the population.
After Suharto was deposed amid pro-democracy protests in 1998, the generals lost much of their political clout under the administration of former President Abdurrahman Wahid. But they have regained influence by supporting his deputy, Megawati Sukarnoputri, who ousted Wahid in a parliamentary coup in July.
Since then, human rights activists have denounced the military for resuming their bloody crackdown against separatist rebels in Aceh province and killing hundreds of civilians in the process. They also accused a U.S.-trained special forces unit of being involved in the killing last month of Theys Eluay, a prominent pro-independence politician in Irian Jaya province.
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