Groups Condemn Sale of Deadly Attack
Helicopters to Indonesia
Contact: Contact: John M. Miller, +1-917-690-4391,
Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078, email@example.com
August 26, 2013 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and
the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) today condemned the U.S. government's
decision to approve the sale of deadly Apache attack helicopters to Indonesia.
The sale demonstrates that U.S. concern for greater respect for human rights and
justice in Indonesia are nothing more than hollow rhetoric.
The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the
TNI to pursue "sweeping" operations, extending TNI capacity to stage
operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.
announced during the visit of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to Jakarta,
ignores the appalling record of human rights violations by the Indonesian
military (TNI), which will operate this deadly weapons system.
The helicopters are offensive weapons often used in counter-insurgency
The TNI continues to conduct military campaigns in West Papua. The military's
"sweeps" and other military operations purportedly target the few remaining,
lightly-armed pro-independence guerrillas. In reality, the operations are aimed
at repressing and intimidating Papuans. The sweep operations, involve assaults
on remote villages in West Papua, destroying civilian homes, churches and public
buildings and forcing civilians from their homes. These attacks drive civilians
into surrounding mountains and jungles where many have died due to a lack of
food, shelter or medical assistance.
The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI
to pursue "sweeping" operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations
after dark and in ever more remote areas.
The statement by Indonesia's Minister of Defense that the sale does not
include any conditions on the use of these weapons is especially concerning. The
TNI use of these weapons platforms will be largely unconstrained. TNI personnel
are not accountable to the civilian judicial system nor is the TNI as an
institution subordinated to civilian government policy or operational control.
For decades, the TNI has drawn funding from a vast network of legal and illegal
businesses enabling it to evade even civilian government budgetary controls.
Legislation to restrain the TNI has been weak or only partially implemented.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,
second from left, meets with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, in Jakarta, Aug. 26, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps
Sgt. Aaron Hostutler
On Monday August 26, Secretary of Defense Hagel announced that the U.S. had
closed a deal for Indonesia to buy eight AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for a
half a billion dollars. The U.S. did not attach conditions restricting their
The sale represents the latest step in the Pentagon's increased engagement with
the TNI. In 1999, restrictions on U.S. engagement with the Indonesia military
were tightened as the TNI and its militia allies were destroying East Timor (now
Timor-Leste) following the UN-conducted referendum on independence. Through the
2000s, restrictions on engagement with the Indonesian military were gradually
lifted, even though it remained
unaccountable for its past crimes in Timor-Leste and throughout the
archipelago and rights violations continue in
West Papua and elsewhere.
Last year, ETAN and WPAT coordinated a letter
signed by more than 90 organizations urging the U.S. not to sell the deadly
attack helicopters to Indonesia. The groups warned that the helicopters will
escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West
Papua: "Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan
ETAN, formed in 1991 and advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for
Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Since its founding, ETAN has worked to condition U.S.
military assistance to Indonesia on respect for human rights and genuine reform.
See ETAN's web site: http://www.etan.org WPAT
publishes the monthly West Papua