Senate Votes Down Restrictions on Military Training for Indonesia
RIGHTS GROUPS SAY MOVE ENDANGERS U.S., EAST TIMORESE AND INDONESIAN
For Immediate Release
January 23, 2003
Contact: Karen Orenstein, East Timor Action Network, 202-544-6911,
Kurt Biddle, Indonesia Human Rights Network, 510-559-7762,
"Today's Senate floor vote against an amendment offered by Senator
Russ Feingold (D-WI) to restrict International Military Education and
Training (IMET) for Indonesia is an outrage which jeopardizes the rights
of Indonesians, East Timorese and Americans living in Indonesia,"
said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator of the East Timor Action
"The Indonesian military has sabotaged international efforts to
attain justice for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor,
exonerated itself of the strong implication that its elite Special Forces
recently murdered two U.S. teachers, and beat a U.S. nurse -- yet the
Senate voted to give the military a level of support not seen in more than
a decade. Why is the Senate rewarding this behavior?" asked Kurt
Biddle, Coordinator of the Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN).
"These Senators could not have sent a more ill-timed message.
Never before has the Indonesian military displayed such boldness in
attacking U.S. citizens as it did in 2002. It's not difficult to imagine
how the TNI treats Indonesian citizens," said Orenstein. "The
Senators who voted against the amendment have effectively given U.S.
backing to continued gross human rights violations."
Indonesian police and non-governmental organization investigations
point to TNI responsibility for the murder of two U.S. citizens and one
Indonesian, and the wounding of eight other U.S. citizens, including a
six-year-old child, in the Indonesian province of West Papua in an ambush
in the mining operations area of the Louisiana-headquartered
Patsy Spier, who was wounded and whose husband was killed in the ambush
said, "Thank you to all the Senators who voted for Senator Feingold's
amendment. The eight American survivors of the West Papua, Indonesia,
ambush of August 31, 2002, continue to strive for justice."
The TNI has successfully evaded accountability for crimes against
humanity it committed in East Timor in 1999 and the previous 23 years of
illegal occupation. Indonesia's ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor
has been internationally acknowledged as a sham. Thus far, the court has
acquitted eleven Indonesian defendants. The architects of the
scorched-earth campaign in East Timor remain free, often wielding
significant power within the government and security forces.
Joy Lee Sadler is a U.S. nurse who traveled to Aceh, Indonesia, to
treat the sick and injured in refugee camps. She was recently released
from four months in Indonesian jails for minor visa violations. Sadler was
physically assaulted, threatened and held incommunicado for six days by
Indonesian security officers.
"The Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for
resumption of military ties with Indonesia in the name of fighting the
'War on Terror.' But the TNI continues to terrorize Indonesian civilians,
including the torture and murder of human rights defenders and political
opposition figures," said Biddle. "Further, the TNI itself has
conspired with and supported Islamic fundamentalist militant groups such
as the Laskar Jihad."
"Regardless of what terms Congress or the administration uses to
phrase IMET resumption, the message heard by the TNI will be the same. The
restoration of prestigious U.S. military training will undoubtedly be seen
as an endorsement of business as usual," said Orenstein.
"This is a major setback for military reform and democracy in
Indonesia. It gives a green light for the Indonesian military to continue
its use of brutal tactics against civilians, especially in Aceh and
Papua," said Biddle.
ETAN and IHRN thank Senator Feingold, along with amendment co-sponsors
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy
(D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), as well as other Senators who voted for the
amendment. Thirty-six Senators voted in favor of the amendment, and 61
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 of more than 270 civilians 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. Congress first passed the "Leahy
conditions" in late 1999. The FY00 through FY02 foreign operations
appropriations laws required the president to certify that Indonesia had
met these conditions before regular IMET and Foreign Military Financed
(FMF) weapons sales were restored for Indonesia. Congress only recently
allowed civilians from Indonesia's defense ministry to participate in the
Expanded IMET program, which involves course work in such areas as
civilian control of the military and human rights.
US Senate IMET amendment
Military Assistance pages