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Media Release

For Immediate Release


John M. Miller, 718-5967668; mobile: 917-690-4391
Karen Orenstein, East Timor Action Network, 202-544-6911, 
Kurt Biddle, Indonesia Human Rights Network, 510-559-7762,

Rights Groups Praise Senators for Restricting Military Training for Indonesia

May 22, 2003 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) and the Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) today praised the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for reinstating a ban on military training for Indonesia.

Yesterday, the committee unanimously agreed to an amendment restricting International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia until President Bush certifies that Indonesia is "taking effective measures" to fully investigate and criminally prosecute those responsible for the attack on U.S. citizens, including the murder of two, in West Papua, Indonesia, in August 2002. Indonesian police and NGO investigations have implicated the Indonesian military (TNI) in the attack.

"The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has sent the Indonesian government and military a strong bipartisan message that the TNI cannot get away with murder. Indonesian authorities must understand that this is no longer business as usual," said Kurt Biddle of IHRN.

Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) proposed the amendment to the Foreign Assistance Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 with support from committee chair Richard Lugar (R-IN) and ranking member Joseph Biden (D-DE).

"The amendment reflects a growing disgust with the failure of Indonesia to meet a wide range of conditions placed on military assistance by Congress in recent years," said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator of ETAN. “Never before has the Indonesian military displayed such boldness in attacking U.S. citizens as it did in 2002. It is not difficult to imagine how the TNI treats Indonesian citizens.”

"The Bush administration has pushed for resumption of military ties with Indonesia in the name of fighting the 'War on Terror,'" said Biddle. “Currently, it is the Indonesian military terrorizing the people of Aceh.”

The committee action comes as Indonesia continues a massive military offensive on Aceh in northern Sumatra. The assault, the TNI’s largest operation since the invasion of East Timor in 1975, ended an internationally-supported ceasefire with the imposition of martial law earlier this week. Gross human rights violations, already pervasive in Aceh, have increased in recent days, including a major military crackdown on civil society.

The TNI is using U.S.-supplied weapons in this offensive, including OV-10 Bronco counterinsurgency aircraft (to rocket villages) and C-130 Hercules transport planes (to drop paratroopers). TNI leadership has ordered troops to "exterminate" the rebels within six months. TNI is reportedly using civilians as human shields in their search for rebels, which fits into a pattern of illegal Indonesian military practices in formerly-occupied East Timor.

“The failure to hold the TNI accountable for its abuses continues. An Indonesian court today acquitted General Tono Suratman of crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999,” said Orenstein. Suratman, the former military commander for East Timor, was the twelfth Indonesian and highest-ranking military personnel acquitted by the widely-criticized Indonesian court.


Indonesian police and non-governmental organization investigations point to TNI responsibility for the murder of two U.S. citizens and one Indonesian in West Papua last August 31, 2002. Another eight U.S. citizens, including a six-year-old child and three Indonesians were wounded in an ambush in the mining operations area of the Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc.

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" on IMET and other military assistance 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. For FY03, the Congress approved $400,000 for IMET.

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.

IHRN is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to educate and activate the American public and 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.


Amendment Text:

At the end of title VI, insert the following new section:


(a) CONDITION ON ASSISTANCE.Subject to sub-section (c), no funds made available under section 23 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2763) or chapter 5 of part II of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2347 et seq.) in FY 2004, other than funds made available for expanded military education and training under such chapter, may be available for a program that involves the Government of Indonesia or the Indonesian Armed Forces until the President makes the certification described in subsection (b).

(b) CERTIFICATION.The certification referred to in subsection (a) is a certification submitted by the President to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Armed Forces are takes effective measures, including cooperating with the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

(1) to conduct a full investigation of the attack on United States citizens in West Papua, Indonesia on August 31, 2002; and (2) to criminally prosecute the individuals responsible for such attack.

(c) LIMITATION.Nothing in this section shall prohibit the United States Government from continuing to conduct programs or training with the Indonesian Armed Forces, including counter-terrorism training, officer visits, port visits, or educational exchanges that are being conducted on the date of the enactment of this Act.


DEFINED.In this section, the term ‘‘appropriate congressional committees means the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives.

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