NGOs Write Secretary of State. Powell and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on Military Ties to Indonesia
7 May 2002
The Honorable Colin L. Powell
The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Dear Secretary Powell and Secretary Rumsfeld:
We are greatly troubled by Pentagon plans to significantly increase engagement with the Indonesian military (TNI). Prudent restrictions on military aid to Indonesia, renewed and strengthened by Congress in the FY02 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, would in effect be nullified.
Indonesian armed forces continue to perpetrate systematic human rights violations throughout the archipelago. The Indonesia section of the 2001 State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices documents "shooting of civilians, torture, rape, beatings and other abuse, and arbitrary detention" and notes that "the Government rarely holds the military or police accountable for committing extrajudicial killings or using excessive force." Rewarding the TNI with US assistance -- while crackdowns on civilians continue, and in some cases escalate, and resistance to accountability remains overwhelming -- signifies the condoning of serious rights violations by the Administration.
The Administration has already lifted the embargo on commercial sales of non-lethal defense articles and increased bilateral contacts between the militaries, while Congress has agreed to reinstate Expanded International Military Education and Training (IMET) for FY02. Yet these initiatives have not led to military reform or greater influence in Jakarta, as argued by many in the Administration. On the contrary, the Indonesian government has been less than cooperative in the "war on terrorism," largely neglecting Administration requests regarding terrorist suspects and their assets. Domestic-focused militant jihad groups continue to enjoy protection and support from members of the government and military.
We are disturbed about the ease with which CINCPAC Admiral Dennis Blair overrode Foreign Operations Appropriations jurisdiction and succeeded in securing a last-minute addition to the FY02 Defense Department Appropriations Act (HR 3338, provision 8125), providing $17.9 million to establish a Regional Defense Counter-terrorism Fellowship Program. Provision 8125 was clearly an end-run around Foreign Operations Appropriations IMET restrictions, although none of the seven conditions Congress required to lift the ban have been met. There are no restrictions on which countries can participate in the program, which has an unknown curriculum.
The FY02 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations request is more troubling still. The request for an additional $8 million for the "training of civilian and military personnel in support of humanitarian and peacekeeping activities in Indonesia" can only be seen as yet another attempt to undermine congressional restrictions. Before peacekeeping training should even be considered for the TNI, soldiers would do well to stop their widespread practice of murder, torture, and rape of civilians. The purpose and composition of the $8 million to "vet, train, and equip a counter-terrorism unit" is unclear.
Potentially many more millions for defense articles, services, training, and other aid could be made available for Indonesia from large pools of money for unspecified countries, including $100 million "to support foreign nations." If the FY02 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations requests are honored, the TNI will not only have access to prestigious U.S. military training without congressional oversight, but bill language providing for defense articles and services to unspecified countries could be used to supply Indonesia with banned FMF. We further object to making funds "available notwithstanding any other provision of law."
If the Pentagon is allowed to ignore existing Foreign Operations Appropriations restrictions in the FY02 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations request, congressional intent will be effectively ignored, an unacceptable and fundamentally undemocratic precedent. The message coming from Washington to Jakarta will be even more conflicted, rendering U.S. support for democracy and human rights in Indonesia even less credible. It is incomprehensible to deny IMET and FMF for the TNI and talk about the need for military reform and an end to impunity on the one hand, while the same sought-after training, financing, equipment, and services are provided in everything but name. The United State's most important point of leverage to foster respect for human rights and accountability and encourage military reform will be lost with little or nothing gained.
It is crucial that this leverage is not lost. As organizations working on behalf of human rights and social justice, we strongly request that the Administration cooperate with Congress to achieve the following:
Thank you for your serious consideration. We look forward to your response.
John Ackerly, President
Bama Athreya, Deputy Director
Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder
Kurt Biddle, Washington Coordinator
Diana Bohn, Secretary
Rev. William Callahan, Co-Director
Rev. John Chamberlin, National Coordinator
Peter J. Davies, UN Representative
Dr. Cathey E. Falvo, MD, MPH, Board of Directors
Tamar Gabelnick, Director
Erik Gustafson, Executive Director
William D. Hartung, Director
David Herrel, Interim
Martha Honey, Co-director
Carol Jahnkow, Executive Director
Melissa Jameson, Director
Prof. Peter Juviler, Director
Lavinia Limon, Executive Director
Kevin Martin, Executive Director
Mary Anne Mercer, Co-chair
John M. Miller, Director
John Oei, Founder
Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator
Diana Ortiz, OSU, Director
Robert Pedersen, Trade and Labor Coordinator
Colin Rajah, Executive Director
Jen Randolph Reise, Co-Director
Dave Robinson, National Coordinator
Sharon Silber, Eileen B. Weiss, Co-Founders
Morton Sklar, Executive Director
Stephanie S. Spencer, Program Associate for Southern Asia
Gail Taylor, Legislative Director
Kathy Thornton, RSM, National Coordinator
Carmen Trotta, Associate Editor
Joe Volk, Executive Secretary
Charles Warpehoski, Program Coordinator
Ronald Watson Dictator Watch
John Witeck, Coordinator
Kani Xulam, Director
Phyllis S. Yingling, President
cc: The Honorable Robert C. Byrd, Chair, Senate Appropriations