Congress Disappointed with Secretary Rumsfeld’s Plans for
U.S.-Indonesia Military Ties
Calls for Reconsideration of Bilateral Defense Dialogue
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668
August 5, 2004 - The Indonesian military "should not be given too
much credit for too little reform," 65 members of Congress recently
wrote U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as they urged him
to reconsider resumption of the Bilateral Defense Dialogue (BDD)
between the two countries.
In a letter to
Secretary Rumsfeld, the Representatives wrote that they “were
surprised and disappointed to learn” that the BDD is scheduled to
”[T]he TNI has successfully evaded accountability for its
well-documented crimes against humanity and war crimes in East
Timor, and there has been little progress in improving human rights
practices in Indonesia. Additionally, the TNI continues its brutal
tactics in Aceh, Papua, and elsewhere. There are reports that the
TNI has extensive connections to the terror group Laskar Jihad,
which has re-emerged in renewed violence in Maluku and is operating
in Papua. The TNI is also implicated in the murder of U.S. citizens
Rick Spier and Ted Burgon, in what the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta
described as ‘an outrageous act of terrorism.’ Although we are
pleased that an indictment was recently issued in this case, we
believe that further investigation into collaborators in this ambush
is warranted. "
The members wrote that, “We believe a resumption of the dialogue
at this time would go against the strong posture Congress and the
Executive Branch took in the late 1990’s to severely limit military
assistance, joint exercises, and exchanges with the TNI until human
rights issues were addressed.”
They added, “The military’s real power lies in its vast
territorial command structure, which remains intact.”
Finally, they urged "the Department of Defense [to] voice its
concern with all levels of leadership in the TNI about the brutal
human rights record of the Indonesian military… It is imperative
that these concerns not be waived in the pursuit of other goals.
The bi-partisan letter was initiated by Representatives Lane
Evans (D-IL), Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).
According to the letter, "a Bilateral Defense Dialogue (BDD)
between Indonesia and the U.S. has not occurred since 1997, in part
because of the tremendous TNI violence committed in East Timor in
The full text of the letter and a complete list of signers can be
On July 15, the full House of Representatives passed legislation
which would continue bans on International Military Education and
Training and foreign military financing for Indonesia. The Senate
has yet to take up the measure.
The Indonesian military said it launched air strikes in Aceh in
late July using U.S.-made OV-10 Bronco aircraft.
ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East
Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to
prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor
since 1975 and continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance to
Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces.
U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page
see Congressional Action on East Timor/Indonesia: