East Timor Action Network Condemns Restoration of IMET
Calls State Department's Certification Fraudulent and a Setback
for Justice, Human Rights and Reform
Contact: John M. Miller,
718-596-7668; 917-690-4391 (cell)
For Immediate Release
February 27, 2005 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN)
today condemned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's decision to
resume full International Military Education and Training (IMET) for
Indonesia. Yesterday, the State Department announced that Secretary
Rice had "determined that Indonesia has satisfied legislative
conditions for restarting" IMET.
In a statement, John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN said:
“The release of full IMET for Indonesia is a setback for justice,
human rights and democratic reform. We urge the administration to
reconsider its decision and call on Congress to put in place tighter
and broader restrictions on all military assistance to Indonesia.
“The Indonesian military's many victims throughout the country
and East Timor will recognize this policy shift as a betrayal of
their quests for justice and accountability.
“While the amount of money may be small, its symbolic value is
enormous. The Indonesian military (TNI) will view the restoration of
IMET as an endorsement of business as usual. For the TNI, business
as usual means brutal human rights violations and continued impunity
for crimes against humanity.
“In recent years Congress has maintained only one condition on
full IMET cooperation by Indonesian authorities with an FBI
investigation into the ambush murders of two Americans on a Freeport
company mining road in Timika, West Papua. But cooperation by
Indonesia has been spotty at best. The sole suspect indicted so far
by a United States grand jury remains at large in Indonesia. His
military links, which appear to be extensive, seem to have hardly
been examined. Military stonewalling of the investigation into the
ambush will undoubtedly intensify.
“Given this lack of progress, the State Department's
certification of cooperation is false and misleading. It has far
more to do with fulfilling the administration's long-term goal of
re-engagement with the Indonesian military, than bringing to justice
all those responsible for the ambush or encouraging democratic
“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 aggressively violate human rights, especially in West
Papua and tsunami-stricken Aceh. Many of those indicted for crimes
against humanity in East Timor continue to maintain powerful
“By restoring IMET the U.S. is in effect saying, 'Nevermind, we
really didn't mean it,' when it comes to solving the Timika ambush
or establishing accountability for crimes against humanity. Reform
efforts will certainly be set back and the TNI's corrupt, abusive
ways will continue.”
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
In the 1990s
Wolfowitz, a former ambassador to Indonesia who is now Deputy
Secretary of Defense and the main architect of the Bush
administration’s push to step up military engagement with Indonesia,
argued before Congress that Indonesia’s extremely limited
prosecutions of some low-level soldiers for the Santa Cruz massacre
represented an achievement in accountability for human rights
Wolfowitz recently said that Indonesia has entered a “new era.”
He once told Congress that "Any balanced judgment" of the country's
human rights situation under then-President and dictator Suharto,
"needs to take account of the significant progress that Indonesia
has already made” due to Suharto's “strong and remarkable
leadership." Suharto is considered one of the twentieth century’s
greatest war criminals, responsible for the deaths of millions and
the plundering of billions from impoverished Indonesia.
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 seriously wounded 11 people,
including a six-year-old child.
An Indonesian citizen, Anthonius Wamang, was indicted in June
2004 by a U.S. grand jury. The killings took place in an area under
full TNI control.
local human rights investigators, 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. Local NGOs have recently uncovered additional evidence of
Wamang's interaction with the military just prior to the ambush.
In February 2004, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told
Patsy Spier, whose husband was killed during the ambush and who was
herself wounded, that his definition of "cooperation" was to see the
Timika case through to "its exhaustion."
State Department says it "expects that Indonesia's resumption of
full International Military Education and Training will strengthen
its ongoing democratic progress." However, Indonesia's minister of
Juwono Sudarsono, recently told the New York Times that the
military "retains the real levers of power" and "from the political
point of view, the military remains the fulcrum of Indonesia." Last
June, while serving as Jakarta's ambassador to London,
"Six years of civilian-based party politics has not resulted in any
measurable degree of effective 'civilian supremacy', much less
and Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly called for restrictions on
military engagement to be maintained. Victims and survivors of the
West Papua killings have called for restrictions to continue until
their case is resolved.
Many in Congress insist 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.
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.
Since its founding in 1991, ETAN has pressed for restricting U.S.
military engagement with Indonesia.
U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page
Tsunami Must Not Sweep Away
Restrictions on Indonesian Military