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Representatives Write Senate to Urge on IMET Ban

Please note the following letter was sent to the Senate by Representatives Joel Hefley (R-CO) and Tom Tancredo (R-CO) concerning an amendment successfully offered by Representative Hefley limiting IMET military training for Indonesia in FY04 in the House version of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The Senate is currently considering its version of the bill. An identical letter was sent to all 100 members of the Senate.

October 27, 2003

Senator ___________
_________ Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20505

Dear Senator ________:

As you may know, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) or another member of the Senate, may offer an amendment this week to the Senate's version of the FY 04 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act to limit Indonesia's participation in the IMET program. I offered an identical amendment in the House to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY04, that was accepted by unanimous consent. My amendment limited Indonesia from receiving International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds until the President certifies to Congress that the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Armed Forces are taking effective measures, including cooperating with the Director of the FBI, in conducting a full investigation of the attack and to criminally prosecute the individuals responsible for the attack on ten Americans.

For those members that are not aware of this attack, on August 31, 2002, the staff of the International School in West Papua, Indonesia decided to take a picnic. The teachers lived and worked in Tembagapura, a company town located high in the mountains near the Grasberg gold and copper mine. The group of eleven people, including a six-year old child, drove in two vehicles to a picnic site about ten miles away on the road to Timika. Because it began to rain, they decided to return to town for lunch.

The road they were traveling on is not an ordinary road. The road is surrounded by the gold and copper mine, and is heavily guarded by the Indonesian military. At both ends of this mountain road are military check points, which seal the road and control access to Tembagapura.

As they returned home, the group was brutally attacked by a band of terrorists. Two Americans, Ted Burgon (from Oregon) and Rick Spier (from Colorado), and an Indonesian man were killed in the ambush. The attack, which occurred less than a half-mile away from an Indonesian military check point, went on for approximately 45 minutes. Hundreds of rounds were fired at the teachers and their vehicles. Most of the survivors, including the six-year old child, were shot. Several of the teachers were shot multiple times and suffered horrible injuries.

Ted Burgon of Sunriver, Oregon was killed and his wife Nancy suffered facial cuts and abrasions. Rick Spier of Littleton, Colorado was killed, and his wife Patsy was shot in the back and foot. Francine Goodfriend of Rockford, Illinois was shot and has a spinal cord injury. Steven Emma of Broward County, Florida was shot in the legs, buttocks, and suffered injuries to his back. Lynn Poston of Olga, Washington was shot in the shoulder and legs. Suandra Hopkins of Sunriver, Oregon was shot in the side, legs, and pellets around the eye and his wife Taia was shot in the buttocks.

Following the attack, the Indonesian Police promptly began an investigation. They collected evidence, interviewed witnesses and reconstructed the ambush. The Indonesian Police issued a report (which I asked for unanimous consent to submit for the Record when I offered my amendment) concluding, "there is a strong possibility that the Tembagapura case was perpetrated by members of the Indonesian National Army Force, however, it still needs to be investigated further."

In early November 2002, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that "United States intelligence agencies have intercepted messages between Indonesian army commanders indicating that they were involved in staging an ambush at the remote mine in which three school teachers, two of them Americans, were killed...." The Washington Post has reported these same intelligence intercepts.

Despite this intelligence, the investigation of the attack has faltered. The Indonesian Police have been effectively removed from the case due to their report that implicated the military. The two senior Indonesian police officers who uncovered evidence of the army's involvement have been transferred to new posts, and the investigation has now been handed over to a joint military police team. Not surprisingly, the Indonesian military has exonerated itself. American investigative teams, including the FBI, have not been able to complete their investigations due mainly to the Indonesian military's refusal to cooperate and its tampering of evidence.

The evasions and obstructions of the Indonesian military are wholly unacceptable, and it is incumbent upon this Congress to see that a thorough investigation is conducted. The victims of this brutal attack deserve no less. My amendment was intended to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous crime against Americans are brought to justice. To the extent that the Indonesian military was involved, the United States should insist on criminal prosecution of all involved parties.

This amendment is important. It gives voice to our commitment that the United States will hold accountable the perpetrators and protectors of terrorism. We will exhaust every means to protect our citizens. We will pursue terrorists wherever they may be and hold them to account. We will demand justice for attacks against our citizens and withhold aid from those countries that do not cooperate in bringing terrorists to justice. As President Bush has stated, "if you are not with us you are against us." It is time for Indonesia to choose who it will align itself with, the terrorists or the coalition of nations that bring them to justice.

Sincerely,

Joel Hefley
Member of Congress

Tom Tancredo
Member of Congress

see also U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance


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