Subject: ETAN/IHRN: Bush Administration to Resume Training Indonesian Military

For immediate release

July 18, 2003

Contact: Kurt Biddle, Coordinator, Indonesia Human Rights Network, (510) 375-2114 mobile

John Miller, East Timor Action Network, (917) 690-4391, mobile 

Also available for interviews: Patsy Spier, survivor of the ambush attack in Papua, Indonesia, (303) 798-2562, cell (303) 903-0959

Bush Administration to Resume Training Indonesian Military

The Indonesia Human Rights Network and the East Timor Action Network today condemned the Bush administration's decision to release 2003 funds for training of the Indonesian military (TNI). The administration plans to consult with Congress next week.

Just two days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY2004-2005 (H.R. 1950), restricting International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia until President Bush certifies that Indonesia is "taking effective measures" to fully investigate and criminally prosecute those responsible for the August 31, 2002 attack on ten U.S. citizens, murdering three school teachers, in Timika, Papua near the mining operations area of the Louisiana-headquartered Freeport-McMoRan. Indonesian police and NGO investigations have strongly implicated the Indonesian military (TNI) in the attack.

Patsy Spier, a U.S. citizen, was seriously wounded and her husband was one of those killed in the attack. She advocates a suspension of US military training programs for Indonesia until a thorough investigation by the FBI is completed.

Spier's letter to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz follows.

additional info at U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance pages


July 9, 2003

Dear Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz,

I hope that you remember speaking with me; I am one of the eight American survivors of the ambush that took place in West Papua, Indonesia, on August 31, 2002. I am writing to you now in response to some news that I just heard through the D.C. grapevine. I've heard that there will be a meeting of some sort in the near future, with the Deputies, to discuss the release of the approved FY03 IMET funds to the Indonesian military.

Our FBI agents are still in Indonesia; they are there working to find the people who murdered my husband Rick, Ted Burgon, and Bambang Riwanto. In September 2002, the FBI were allowed into Indonesia only as observers, in January the Indonesian military/Indonesian government were less than helpful to the FBI when they tried to carry out their investigative interviews. The FBI team that is presently in Indonesia has not yet returned to the United States to give us their report. At this time we do not know of the type of cooperation they have received from the Indonesian military/Indonesian government on this visit.

I am asking you Mr. Deputy Secretary, to help the FBI use their skills in doing a thorough investigation by continuing to withhold the approved IMET funds. With that pressure from our government we Americans will show a united front in the wake of such violence against Americans. I was there August 31, 2002; I experienced what happened on that mountain. The ambush happened on the concession of an American company, and it lasted for 45 minutes, which means it was well planned. There is no other reason for that ambush to have been carried out but to make a statement to my country. Please don't forget about the three lives taken that August day, and what happened to we eleven survivors. We as Americans must stop this from happening again. I believe in America, and in the power of being an American citizen. I believe in my government, that's why I am writing to you, and to elected government officials.

Because of the reporting of the ambush in Indonesia, and the published Indonesian police report, the Indonesian citizen is watching to see how my government will continue to react to the murder of two of it's citizens, and the wounding of eight other US citizens. They know that the IMET funds are being withheld until there is a thorough investigation. The release of the IMET funds now would only cause the Indonesian people to question America's values when it comes to their citizens' safety.

With our FBI's thorough investigation we can perhaps find out who and why the ambush was carried out. And in doing so, we will bring to light the issues that caused the ambush, and then bring a change to those issues. I will never feel justice for Rick's death, but I can do everything in my power to help others not to go through what I did, and carry the memories of that day.

Please support the efforts of our FBI by not releasing the approved FY03 IMET funds to the Indonesian military until the FBI concludes their investigation. Reprogram those IMET funds to a deserving country whose military is not accused of apparently carrying out an ambush that killed two Americans and one Indonesian.

Sincerely, Patricia Lynne Spier

See for additional background.

ETAN advocates for democracy, sustainable development, justice and human rights, including women's rights, for the people of East Timor. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975.

IHRN is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to educate and activate the American public and influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability and rule of law in Indonesia. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen civil society.


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