Subject: TNI told end of U.S. bans no reason for rights complacency [+Juwono
The Jakarta Post Friday, July 7, 2006
TNI told end of U.S. bans no reason for complacency
Abdul Khalik and Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The resumption of nearly full military ties with the United States has been prompted by economic and security concerns rather than the improving human rights record of the Indonesian Military (TNI), experts say.
They urged the military Thursday to continue with efforts to improve soldiers' respect for human rights, saying experiences over the past several years indicated the military still had a long way to go in regards to protecting human rights.
"We haven't seen any improvements at all in the past several years, as many people still link the TNI with conflicts in several areas across the country," right activist Hendardi told The Jakarta Post.
"The discovery of a stash of arms and bullets in the house of a deceased general proves that some TNI officers could still be linked to human rights abuses," Hendardi said, referring to the late Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi.
In its most recent report, Human Rights Watch said the military continued to be guilty of human rights violations, in large part because of its wide-ranging business activities across the archipelago. The group accused the military of using force to protect its business interests.
Hendardi said the military would be wrong to view the resumption of military ties with the U.S. as a testament to an improved rights record.
"We know that the United States is very opportunistic and they lifted the ban (on arms sales) because of economic reasons, not because of an improvement in human rights. So the TNI has no reason to stop respecting human rights," he said.
The U.S. Senate decided late last month to lift all restrictions on the sale of arms to Indonesia beginning next year, paving the way for the full resumption of military ties between the two countries.
The United States imposed restriction on military sales and cooperation with Indonesia over concerns about human rights abuses by the TNI in the former province of East Timor in 1991. The U.S. Congress has imposed restrictions since 1992.
However, the U.S. State Department issued a waiver removing all remaining congressional restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia last November because the administration considers Jakarta a strategic partner in the fight against terrorism.
An international relations expert at the University of Indonesia, Makmur Keliat, said the resumption was driven more by U.S. interests in making Indonesia a more effective partner in fighting terrorism.
"The United States has a strong reason to strengthen the TNI's capability, because a weak TNI can become a source of national and regional instability that eventually would harm U.S. interests in fighting terrorism in the region," Makmur told the Post.
The second reason for lifting the ban on arms sales, according to Makmur, is purely economical, noting that the U.S. was concerned Indonesia could find other source for military weapons.
He said that since the end of the Cold War, the international market has seen an oversupply of military equipment, and therefore letting go of Indonesia was not in the interests of the U.S.
Separately, Suzie Sudarman, director of the Center for American Studies at the University of Indonesia, said Indonesia should use the opportunity of improving military ties with the U.S. to improve its defensive capabilities.
"With increased access to military equipment from the United States, Indonesia will be more confident in anticipating possible regional conflicts," Suzie told the Post.
She said increasing the country's defensive capabilities was important, especially in the face of China's military modernization, which could pose a threat to countries in the region.
The Jakarta Post Friday, July 7, 2006
Legislators blame Juwono for slow TNI reform
Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Legislators have accused Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono of a half-hearted commitment to effecting internal reform of the military, evidenced by a lack of accountability in arms procurement and a recent illegal arms scandal.
They said the arms stash found last week at the home of deceased Army Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi underlined the problems between the Defense Ministry and Indonesian Military (TNI).
Djoko Susilo, a member of the House of Representatives' Commission I on defense, information and foreign affairs, said his commission was disappointed with the minister's performance after almost two years in office.
"The minister's appearing less reformist than the military officials in his office is part of the problem in the stagnant internal reform in the military. The lax rules and the absence of accountability in arms procurements have a lot to do with the minister's failure to enforce Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI," he told The Jakarta Post here Thursday.
He cited as examples the minister's agreement to the purchase of Rp 362 billion (US$39.8 million) Yakhont missile chipsets from Russia by the Navy, as well as the Air Force purchasing Rp 152 billion Sukhoi warplane spare parts from the same nation, despite the commission's strong objections.
"According to the law, the Defense Ministry is allowed to ask for consideration from TNI Headquarters and its forces in arms procurement," he added.
Effendi Choirie, a legislator from the National Awakening Party (PKB), noted Juwono's personal capabilities, good reputation and adequate knowledge and work experience in military circles, but believed he lacked the courage to push for the completion of internal reform, including the execution of the one-door policy in the arms procurement.
"The minister should adhere to the one-door policy to prevent military officers from stashing arms and committing corrupt practices in arms procurement. He also should clean his office of active servicemen to uphold civilian supremacy and allow him freedom in making necessary policies and implementing them."
Both men believed he was capable of pushing through change if he wished.
They also said the government needed to improve the welfare of military personnel due to the takeover of military businesses and the barring of military involvement in politics.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should issue a presidential regulation to put the military organization under the Defense Ministry, they added, and appoint civilian professionals to strategic positions in the ministry to help him.
"The portfolio in the ministry needs professionals, and not politicians," said Djoko.
He added the police institutional structure should be revamped to be put under the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry to avoid jealousy among military personnel.
Juwono acknowledged that weak supervision at his office had contributed to the absence of accountability in arms procurement, including illegal possession of arms among military officers, but said it was a common bureaucratic problem.
"I confess this is part of the weak supervisory system in all layers of the administration, including in the Defense Ministry and the other ministry I was previously in charge of," he said after conferring the Bintang Kartika Eka Paksi award to Singapore Army chief Maj. Gen. Desmond Kwek at his office.
He was previously education minister.
He said he would gradually review the management of arms procurement at TNI Headquarters, the three forces, their units and military partner companies both at home and overseas.
Asked about the probe into the arms stash, Juwono said he entrusted the military police with the task of conducting a thorough investigation.
"If crimes are found in the case, they will be processed by the military police in a military tribunal and a further investigation could be conducted by the National Intelligence Agency."
Army chief Gen. Djoko Santoso, who accompanied the minister at the ceremony, declined to give a full update on the progress in the investigation, but said 35 witnesses had been questioned.
He also said Koesmayadi's son-in-law, a commandant of the military police unit in the presidential guard, was confined to his home to prevent interference from "wanted officers".
----------------------------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service