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For Immediate Release August 3, 1999
Contact: John M. Miller; (718)596-7668 Lynn Fredriksson; (202)544-6911

House of Representatives Continues Pressure on Indonesia for Free and Fair Vote in East Timor, Says Future Military Cooperation Rests on Successful Vote

Ban on U.S. Weapons in East Timor Reaffirmed

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) today praised continuing Congressional pressure in support of a free and fair vote in East Timor following passage of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill (HR 2606). The House of Representatives reaffirmed Congressional bans on the use of U.S. weapons in East Timor and military training aid for Indonesia.

"Vigilant U.S. and Congressional pressure is crucial if the people of East Timor are to make a peaceful choice on their political status," said Lynn Fredriksson, ETAN's Washington Representative. "This bill makes clear that the House of Representatives intends to keep up the pressure on Indonesia to halt its military-supported paramilitary terror in East Timor prior to the scheduled August 30 vote."

In language accompanying the bill, developed by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the House threatened future military cooperation between the U.S. and Indonesia, saying it "believes there should not be a normalization of U.S.-Indonesia military-to-military relations if violence continues and Indonesia does not abide by its responsibilities under the May 5th Agreement to help ensure the environment exists for a free and fair vote on the referendum called for under that agreement."

The Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill would continue the ban on IMET (International Military and Education Training) aid to Indonesia, allowing only expanded IMET. Expanded IMET is supposed to be restricted to classroom training in non-tactical matters such as civilian-military relations and human rights.

The bill also calls for a detailed report of all overseas military training for foreign militaries conducted or planned by the Pentagon. This provision resulted from the controversy over the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) of the Indonesian military, which members of Congress (including Lane Evans [D-IL] and ETAN exposed last year.

The House also affirmed current law by retaining the ban on the use of U.S. weapons in East Timor. "[A]ny agreement for the sale, transfer, or licensing of any lethal equipment or helicopter for Indonesia ... shall state that the United States expects that the items will not be used in East Timor," states the bill. The Senate version of the bill includes an identical provision.

In addition to Lowey and Evans, key supporter of East Timor in the House of Representatives include Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Tony Hall (D-OH), and John Porter (R-IL).

The Senate on June 30, 1999 by a 98-0 vote amended its version of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill to call on the Clinton administration to "immediately intensify their efforts to prevail upon the Indonesian Government and military" to "disarm and disband anti-independence militias," "release all political prisoners," and "allow Timorese who have been living in exile to return to East Timor to campaign" in the organized ballot. The amendment also directs the United States executive directors to international financial institutions to use their influence to encourage the Indonesian government and military to create a stable and secure environment for the vote.

Earlier in June the Senate passed an amendment to the State Department Authorization Bill also urging an intensified U.S. effort to pressure Indonesia. On July 21, the House unanimously added similar language to its own version of the authorization bill.

The House and Senate must still reconcile differing versions of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill before it becomes law.

The East Timor Action Network/US was founded in November 1991, following the massacre of more than 271 peaceful demonstrators in Dili, East Timor. ETAN/US supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor in accordance with the UN Charter and General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. ETAN has 25 local chapters.