Subject: AP: Rights Group Praises US Ban On Military Sales To Indonesia
Rights Group Praises US Ban On Military Sales To Indonesia
JAKARTA, Nov. 5 (AP)--A human rights group focusing on Indonesia praised the U.S. Congress for keeping a ban on sales of military equipment to Indonesia, whose armed forces have been accused of widespread abuses.
"The Indonesian military is still a long way off from constituting a professional institution respectful of human rights and fully accountable to civilian authority. We are very pleased that Congress recognizes this," New York-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network said in a statement received Saturday.
Tuesday, a conference between the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to maintin restrictions on foreign military finance and exports of lethal military equipment to Indonesia, until Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice certifies the Indonesian armed forces have met certain conditions.
These include prosecution and punishment of Indonesian personnel "who have been credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights" in Indonesia and East Timor, and the implementation of reforms "to improve civilian control of the military."
The conferees further required Rice to submit a detailed report on efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the ambush and murder of two U.S. schoolteachers and the wounding of eight others in West Papua in 2002. Congress later passed legislation making the reestablishment of contacts contingent on Jakarta's cooperation in bringing to justice those responsible for the killings.
The armed forces of the two nations cooperated closely in the 1970s and 80s, during the dictatorship of former President Suharto. But the Clinton administration imposed a partial ban in 1991 to protest a massacre of East Timorese civilians by Suharto's troops, and cut ties completely in 1999 after the army devastated the province following a U.N.-organized independence referendum.
Limited ties - focused mainly on a small officer-training program - were reestablished under President George W. Bush. But proposals to resume full cooperation, which were strongly backed by former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, have repeatedly been stymied by congressional insistence on holding the military accountable for past misdeeds.
Tuesday's conference made an exception for the Indonesian navy, which is not blamed for abuses. It was granted $1 million in foreign military finance.