|Subject: US admiral urges Indon military to
account for E. Timor mayhem
Received from Joyo Indonesian News
US admiral urges Indonesian military to account for East Timor mayhem
JAKARTA, Nov 27 (AFP) - The US military chief for the Pacific Tuesday said the Indonesian armed forces should account for the 1999 violence in East Timor before they can resume full military cooperation with Washington.
"We are ready to resume the full range of bilateral cooperation, when the military reforms which the TNI (the Indonesian armed forces) is undertaking reach maturity," Admiral Dennis Blair told students of Indonesia's military think-tank, the National Resilience Institute.
"The primary criteria (for the resumption) is the completion of the actions regarding accountability for the action of the TNI in East Timor following the referendum in 1999."
Military-nurtured militia groups embarked on an orgy of killing and destruction across East Timor after the territory voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-held ballot on August 30, 1999.
"The action of the TNI as it was leaving East Timor resulted in the destruction of many parts of the cities and the injury or deaths to many citizens," Blair said.
"The US has insisted that there be some sort of accountability procedures for those actions," he said.
Washington cancelled all military cooperation with the Indonesian armed forces following the post-ballot violence in East Timor and backed the deployment of UN peacekeepers.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1976, passed over to UN administration in October 1999 and is set for full independence on May 20.
Blair said he did not doubt Indonesian leaders' commitment to reforming the military. But he added: "I... have not seen that sincerity translated into actions.
"So it is a case of turning the intention into investigations... court martials or other cases," the admiral said.
The post-ballot violence forced an estimated half a million East Timorese to flee to Indonesian West Timor. Only about 188,000 have returned home so far.
Many of those still in West Timor were members or supporters of the militias. They fled after the arrival of UN peacekeeping troops in East Timor in September 1999.
East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao is now on a three-day visit to West Timor to meet government and military officials as well as pro-Jakarta militia leaders and representatives of the refugees.
His visit is aimed at promoting reconciliation with former militia enemies and encouraging the refugees to return home.
Indonesia army must match words with deeds -U.S.
By Jerry Norton
JAKARTA, Nov 27 (Reuters) - The United States wants to return to full military cooperation with Indonesia but it must first match words with action in accounting for the violence in East Timor, U.S. Admiral Dennis Blair said on Tuesday.
Washington slashed military ties after pro-Jakarta militia, many supported by the Indonesian army, went on a killing spree in East Timor when the territory voted for independence in 1999.
The United States lifted an embargo on sales of non-lethal military items after initial support from Indonesia in the war on terrorism, but other restrictions remain.
"A higher level of cooperation would be in the interests of both our countries," especially given the anti-terrorism campaign, but depended on military reform linked to the East Timor issue, said Blair, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
He also cautioned against counter-insurgency tactics so harsh they generate more rebels than the number of militants they destroy.
"Heavy-handed military tactics against insurgencies not only create international censure, but also are counterproductive -- they build local resentment ... increase support for insurgency and terrorism, and undermine public trust," Blair said in a speech to Indonesian military and police officers and civil servants.
CONFLICTS EAST AND WEST
Jakarta faces conflicts at both ends of its sprawling archipelago -- armed separatists in the resource-rich province of Papua in the east and Free Aceh (GAM) rebels on the northern tip of Sumatra island near the strategic Malacca Strait.
"You don't want to create more members of GAM than you remove," Blair said in answer to a question.
He was in Indonesia on a two-day visit that included meetings with President Megawati Sukarnoputri, ministers and officers in which the U.S.-led war on terrorism was a major topic.
Blair -- whose own command takes in operations across more than 100 million square miles and includes over 300,000 military personnel -- said he saw a growing awareness in Indonesia "that force alone is insufficient to quell insurgency without political accommodation, respect for human rights and local economic development."
However, that view is not universally shared. Others say influential Indonesian elements still support harsh military measures to counter the Papua and Aceh rebellions.
The United Nations estimates more than 1,000 people were killed in the wake of East Timor's vote for independence but none of the military officers blamed for inciting the killings have been brought to trial.
Blair said the United States was "ready to resume the full range of bilateral cooperation, when the military reforms which the (Indonesian armed forces are) undertaking ... reach maturity" Establishing accountability in East Timor through actions like court martials would be the key measure of that, he said.
"CONVINCED OF SINCERITY"
In his talks with Indonesian officials and military commanders Blair said he was "convinced of their sincerity and their commitment to reform but I also have not seen that sincerity translated into actions which give a full explanation and then accountability" for what happened in East Timor.
While U.S. laws linked to progress on that issue prohibited full military cooperation with Indonesia, Blair told a news conference after the speech that didn't apply to the war against terrorism, and praised Indonesia's actions on that front.
Indonesia has been critical of the U.S. bombing in Afghanistan but has also condemned the September 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon and cooperated with the United States in the sharing of intelligence, moves to stop money laundering, and other areas.
Blair refused to be drawn on specifics of whether he thought terrorist groups like Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda were operating in Indonesia but said clearly Indonesia has to be concerned about the possibility given its size and past links of some Indonesian groups to Afghanistan.
Blair also said many nations had offered to participate in a Malacca Strait patrol, in cooperation with patrols of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, to ensure terrorists could not attack shipping there.
"In fact we are allocating some navy assets to protect certain shipping that's important to us as it goes through these waters," he told reporters. Blair's Indonesian visit was part of a regional swing that has already taken him to Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Japan. He was to leave on Tuesday for India.
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