ETAN: Bush Must Set Record Straight: No Military Assistance for Indonesia
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Media Release

For Immediate Release

Contact John M. Miller (718)596-7668; (917)690-4391

Bush Must Set Record Straight: No Military Assistance for Indonesia

October 21, 2003 – The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today urged President Bush to set the record straight and restrict all military assistance for the Indonesian military (TNI) when he visits Bali, Indonesia.

“President Bush’s message to Indonesian President Megawati must be crystal clear: The Indonesian military must clean up its act before he will consider granting prestigious U.S. assistance,” said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.

In an interview with Indonesian television, President Bush recently stated that he planned to discuss “mil-to-mil relations between Indonesia,” when he meets with Indonesia’s President Megawati this Wednesday. In an unusual correction of a president traveling abroad, the Washington Post reported administration officials saying that President Bush “misspoke.”

“Human rights violations in Aceh, Papua and elsewhere must end, and military personnel must be held accountable for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor and Indonesia,” said Miller. “Bush must press for the extradition of Indonesian officers indicted in East Timor and prosecution of the military officers believed responsible for killing two Americans and an Indonesian teacher in Papua.”

"For over three decades, the U.S. and Indonesian militaries were extremely close and we saw no move to reform," said Ed McWilliams, a former State Department official who served as political counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia from 1996-1999. "The Indonesian military's (TNI) worst abuses took place when we were most engaged."

“While the President may believe that Congress has changed its attitude concerning military training for Indonesia, as recently as last July the House of Representatives voted unanimously to oppose IMET for Indonesia,” said Karen Orenstein, ETAN’s Washington Coordinator. “Congress has unambiguously conveyed that it wants to see those responsible for the brutal murder of U.S. citizens in Papua prosecuted and convicted and an end to civilian deaths and other abuses in Aceh.”

Bush last week also told the Indonesian media, “Our standpoint is that we don't think that in Aceh, for example, that the issue should be solved and can be solved militarily.”

“Bush can’t support peace for Aceh and Papua and military engagement at the same time. Sending contradictory messages will only strengthen the military’s resolve, delay reform and lead to more suffering,” said Miller. “The President should call for an immediate ceasefire in Aceh, the withdrawal of troops, and a return to the negotiating table with significant involvement from civil society.”


Representative Lane Evans (D-IL), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, recently wrote his colleagues that “U.S. assistance for the Indonesian military (TNI)… without any conditions that require the military to address and improve their human rights record, essentially rewards the TNI for its own terrorism, including the past abuses in East Timor, the current assault on civilians in Aceh, and numerous other 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 in West Papua on August 31, 2002. Eight U.S. citizens, including a six-year-old child and three Indonesians, were wounded in the ambush in the mining operations area of the Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc. Indonesian police and human rights groups have strongly implicated the military in the attack.

In Aceh, Indonesia is conducting its largest military operation since the 1975 invasion of East Timor. Aceh, on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, is the site of one of Asia's longest running wars. On May 19, 2003, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri declared martial law in Aceh, ending a six-month ceasefire with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Indonesia's official human rights commission has cited numerous human rights violations by security forces during the current military campaign. The government of Indonesia has barred nearly all international humanitarian and human rights organizations from entering Aceh.

The TNI has successfully evaded accountability for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999 and the previous 23 years of illegal occupation. Indonesia's ad hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor is an internationally-acknowledged sham. While there have been a few convictions with light sentences, the architects of the scorched-earth campaign in East Timor remain free, often wielding significant power within the government and security forces. Several military officers responsible for crimes in East Timor are currently directing the war in Aceh. None of those convicted are expected to serve a day in prison.

Congress first voted to restrict IMET military training for Indonesia, which brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training, in response to the 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. Congress first passed the "Leahy conditions" on IMET and other military assistance in late 1999. Congress originally approved $400,000 for IMET in FY03 but Indonesia’s participation in the program was ultimately limited to Expanded IMET. On July 24, the House voted to strip a $600,000 appropriation for International Military Education and Training (IMET) intended for Indonesia for FY04. In May, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved reinstating the ban on IMET for Indonesia.

ETAN advocates for democracy, sustainable development, justice and human rights, including women's rights, for the people of East Timor and Indonesia. (


see also U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance

Washington Post
Monday, October 20, 2003

Officials Correct Bush on Indonesia

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer

President Bush misspoke when he said last week that the United States was ready to "go forward with" a new package of military training programs with Indonesia, according to a White House official questioned about the president's remarks.

Bush said on Indonesian television that new military programs could be launched because Indonesia had cooperated in an investigation into the killing of two U.S. citizens last year in the eastern Indonesia province of Papua.

The comments caught U.S. officials by surprise. Asked to explain Bush's remarks, a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "We want to move ahead with increased military-to-military cooperation with Indonesia, which is in both of our interests.

"Progress in building a broader military-to-military relationship with Indonesia," he said, however, "will be pinned on continued cooperation from Indonesia on the investigation into the murders of two Americans" near the town of Timika, in Papua. "The investigation is moving forward due to the improved cooperation by the Indonesia government."

No new programs are currently planned or have been approved, other administration officials said, contrary to what Bush's statement implied.

During the same interview, Bush also mischaracterized Congress's continued opposition to such military training. Bush said that "for a while the Congress put restrictions on [military training], but now the Congress has changed their attitude."

In fact, opposition in Congress to military training programs with Indonesia grew stronger this year after the possibility of Indonesian military involvement in the Papua attack was raised in a closed-door hearing in May. The hearing also included testimony from a CIA analyst who discussed intelligence indicating that military personnel were seeking to withhold evidence from FBI agents.

Congress subsequently voted to prohibit the administration from allowing Indonesia to participate in a traditional U.S. military training program called International Military Education and Training (IMET) until Bush certifies that Indonesia is cooperating fully with the investigation. No such certification is in the works, said several congressional and administration officials.

Last year, Congress defeated a similar measure to make the release of IMET funds conditional on cooperation in the murder investigation.

The ambush took place along a windy mining road on property controlled by an American mining company, PT Freeport Indonesia, and guarded by company security personnel and Indonesian soldiers. Two Americans and an Indonesian were killed. Eight other Americans, including a 6-year-old girl, were wounded. The adults made up the entire staff of a school for the children of the mine's American, British and Australian employees.

Although the Indonesian government has demonstrated some cooperation -- it allowed the FBI to take evidence pertaining to the ambush to the United States for forensic analysis -- the FBI, State Department and lawmakers closely following the case say they do not believe the FBI has received the level of cooperation needed to conclude the investigation.

Patsy Spier, whose husband was killed in the ambush and who was badly injured herself, met last week with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and John Pistole, chief of the FBI's counterterrorism division, to press the case for a full investigation. She said after the meetings that both men promised their continued help in making sure the Indonesian government cooperates.

"Americans were murdered," Spier said. "It was brutal and we need to find out what happened and to stop it so it doesn't happen again."

White House Press Office
October 19, 2003

Interview of the President by Rosianna Silalahi, SCTV [excerpt]

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 -- The following is a transcript of an interview of President Bush by Rosianna Silalahi, SCTV:


Q Speaking about human rights, Papua and Aceh are struggling to be independent because the human rights has become a critical issue. What is your standpoint about this?

THE PRESIDENT: Our standpoint is that we don't think that -- in Aceh, for example, that the issue should be solved and can be solved militarily. It ought to be solved through peaceful negotiations.

Q And how about Papua?

THE PRESIDENT: Same, peaceful negotiations.

Q How about American citizens that got killed in Papua?

THE PRESIDENT: We're not happy about that, of course, and I appreciate the government's full cooperation with our Federal Bureau of Investigation that is now seeking out the evidence to determine who the killers were.

Q Does it change your military policy towards Indonesia?

THE PRESIDENT: No, as a matter of fact, we're going to discuss mil-to-mil relations between Indonesia. And for awhile, the Congress put restrictions on it. But now the Congress has changed their attitude, and I think we can go forward with a package of mil-to-mil cooperation because of the cooperation of the government on the killings of two U.S. citizens.



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