Groups Condemn Planned Restoration of IMET for Indonesia
Normalizing Military Relations Will Undercut Limited Progress on
Murder Case and Other Human Rights Efforts
Contact: John M. Miller, ETAN,
718-596-7668; 917-690-4391 (cell)
Abigail Abrash, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human
For Immediate Release
February 7, 2005 - Two human rights groups today called the U.S.
Department of State's plan to allow Indonesia to again participate
in the full International Military Education and Training (IMET)
program short-sighted, a betrayal of the numerous victims of human
rights violations by the Indonesian military (TNI), and a serious
setback for justice.
“By pushing for release of IMET funds, the Bush Administration is
taking advantage of post-tsunami politics to re-engage with the
Indonesia military in direct contravention of U.S. law," said
Abigail Abrash Walton for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for
Human Rights. "The Indonesian government has not cooperated fully
with the FBI investigation of the brutal murders of two American
teachers at the Freeport copper and gold mine in West Papua.At the
same time, the U.S. Justice Department apparently has shown a
remarkable lack of initiative in investigating evidence showing
Indonesian military involvement in the killings."
The TNI has been implicated in the August 2002 attack within the
mining concession of Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan, which also
killed an Indonesian teacher and wounded 11 people, including a
six-year-old child. Certification by Secretary of State Condoleeza
Rice to Congress of cooperation in the investigation of these
killings is the sole condition on provision of IMET. The State
Department is reportedly ready to certify cooperation this week.
"The amount of money for IMET may be small but its symbolic value
is enormous. The Indonesian military will view any restoration of
IMET as an endorsement of business as usual,” said John M. Miller,
spokesperson for the East Timor Action Network. “Throughout
the archipelago, business as usual has been nothing less than brutal
human rights violations and impunity for crimes against humanity. In
tsunami-stricken Aceh, the Indonesian military continues to
manipulate relief efforts and to attack civilians as part of their
"Saying the Indonesian military is cooperating, doesn't make it
so," said Abrash Walton. “The only person indicted by the U.S.
Justice Department in June 2004, Anthonius Wamang, has documented
ties to the Indonesian military. He has yet to be brought into
custody, much less questioned further about the Indonesian
military's involvement in the August 2002 ambush. It seems that
there has been absolutely no progress since June in resolving this
criminal attack. How can the State Department credibly claim that
more than seven months of stonewalling by Indonesian authorities
“The TNI already receives millions of dollars worth of
training. Given the TNI’s dismal rights record and resistance to
reform, the Bush administration’s long-running resolve to lift the
IMET restriction and coddle the TNI defies belief. Why remove
remaining leverage?” asked Miller.
The groups urged members of Congress to again restrict IMET in
upcoming appropriations legislation and to extend any conditions to
counter-terrorism training, which is funded separately. "Congress
should apply the same conditions on IMET and other military training
that it has
imposed on weapon sales," Miller said.
"Indonesia has yet to fulfill previous conditions on IMET,
including accountability for rights violations in East Timor and
Indonesia and transparency in the military budget. In fact, the TNI
continues to violate human rights, especially in Aceh and West
Papua. Many of those indicted for crimes against humanity in East
Timor continue to maintain powerful positions," Miller said.
Arguing that "IMET for Indonesia is in the US interest,"
Secretary Rice recently informed a key members of Congress that
Indonesia "has demonstrated cooperation as required" by law. The law
requires the Indonesian government and armed forces to cooperate
with the FBI's investigation into the August 31, 2002 ambush in the
mining concession of Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold,
Inc. (FCX). The administration wants to spend $600,000 for IMET this
"The Indonesian people have suffered through so much because of
the latest natural disaster, but we must not let the tsunami wash
away the need to address human rights abuses from the past," Patsy
Spier, who survived the attack in which her husband was killed,
Associated Press in an interview in which she opposed Indonesian
participation in IMET. "The whole point is just to have a proper
An Indonesian citizen, Anthonius Wamang, was
June 2004 by a U.S. grand jury. The killings took place in an
area under full TNI control. According to local human rights
defenders, Wamang has extensive ties to the Indonesian military as a
business partner of Kopassus, the Indonesian army's notorious
special forces. In an
August 2004 television interview on the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation, Wamang said that he got his ammunition for the attack
from Indonesian military personnel.
He has told the
FBI and local human rights groups that these officers knew that
he was about to carry out an attack in the Freeport concession. The
TNI routinely uses militia proxies to stage attacks, in hopes of
covering up their role.
Wamang remains at large and does not face charges in Indonesia.
In announcing the indictment, then-Attorney General Ashcroft ignored
evidence of TNI involvement while saying the investigation is
Congress first voted to restrict Indonesia from receiving IMET,
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 by Indonesian troops wielding
U.S.-supplied M-16 rifles. All military ties with Indonesia were
severed in September 1999 as the TNI and its militia proxies razed
A number of congressional offices have insisted that the
condition on IMET should remain in place until the investigation is
completed and those responsible for the August 2002 attack are
brought to justice.
January interview, Spier said the Freeport ambush case "should
remind us why the training funds were held up in the first place.
They've got to be willing to bring to justice those people who
committed crimes [in Aceh, Papua and East Timor] and are still in
service... They must acknowledge what they did was wrong."
ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East
Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to
prosecute crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975
to 1999 and for continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance
to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces.
The RFK Center has monitored and reported on the human rights
situation in Indonesia, with a special focus on West Papua, since
1993, when respected Indonesian human rights attorney Bambang
Widjojanto received the annual RFK Human Rights Award for his work
to defend the rights of West Papua's indigenous people. (See
U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page
Tsunami Must Not Sweep Away
Restrictions on Indonesian Military
What's Wrong with Freeport's Security Policy? Summary
Report: Results of Investigation into the Attack on Freeport
Employees in Timika, Papua, Finds Corporation Allows Impunity of
Criminal Acts by Indonesian Armed Forces by ELSHAM October 21, 2002