Vol. 6, No. 1
We Can't Stop Here
U.S. Military Assistance to Indonesia Remains Suspended But for
East Timor, Refugee Return and Accountability Unresolved
To this day, U.S. military ties with Indonesia are suspended. By the end of 1999, the U.S. Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY 2000, making law Clinton's September 9 announcement to suspend U.S. military ties with Indonesia. Until the Indonesian government and military (TNI) meet six conditions pertaining to safe return of East Timorese refugees from West Timor, an end to militia violence, and accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor and Indonesia, TNI shall receive no further U.S. weapons or training.
Passage of this critical provision, championed by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Chris Smith (R-NJ), among others, was largely the result of broad grassroots insistence on justice for East Timor. Take pride in that. If it weren't for this legislation, there's little doubt the Pentagon would have already re-engaged with TNI. It's up to us to keep this suspension in place through FY 2001(see latest Action Alert) .
Though the continuing need for this suspension may seem self-evident, traditional adversaries in the Pentagon, House and Senate are once again arguing for military and economic engagement with Indonesia, lingering human rights violations be damned. Now that East Timor is free, we hear it's time to turn our attention back to the business of business with Indonesia. Of course, these offices ignore recent TNI violence in Aceh, West Papua and the Moluccas, as well as 100,000 refugees still trapped in West Timor by TNI-backed militias. It is crucial that our movement not stop short of our mark: genuine self-determination and human rights for East Timor. It is also important that we not ignore the positive impact our victory in shifting U.S. foreign policy has had on Indonesia as well. But until military "dual function" is truly ended, and Acehnese, West Papuans and others are free from TNI violence, Indonesia will not be free nor East Timor secure. (See description of the Indonesia Action Network exploratory committee.) We must guard our victory, and maintain momentum in further blocking U.S. military assistance to human rights abusers. If we do not do so now, the opportunities may not arise again.
All it takes is renewed activism - yours! Please continue to act on ETAN action alerts, call-in days, sign-on letters and other chances to renew the pressure on your elected officials. Meet with your Representative and Senators at home. Join us in Washington May 7-10 for our annual Lobby Days.
The U.S. has an historical responsibility to follow through on its commitments to East Timor. Help ensure that all East Timorese who wish to return home can do so. Help secure East Timor from further militia and TNI attacks. Help press for just and comprehensive prosecution of Indonesian military officers and East Timorese militia leaders guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Help ensure the U.S. provides its fair share in aid for reconstruction and development: The Clinton administration request for FY 2001 for Timor is $15 million less than this year's funding!
Timor Lorosae will need our support for years to come. As U.S. citizens and residents we owe them that much. The U.S. must support East Timor, from CNRT leaders Xanana Gusmão and José Ramos-Horta to NGO leaders Aniceto Lopes, Gilman Santos and Olandina Alves; from Bishops Belo and Nascimento to Protestant leader Arlindo Marcal; from Timorese friends working in UNTAET and international development agencies to local leaders in Ainaro, Suai, Los Palos and dozens of small towns across the country. What they have already achieved is an inspiration. Let's continue to withhold U.S. aid to their oppressors, see that justice is served and increase support for their future prosperity. A luta continua!