[ETAN-key] Rights Group Calls on Congress to Restrict Military
Assistance to Indonesia to Promote Reform and Accountability
John M Miller
fbp at igc.org
Thu May 25 13:40:21 PDT 2006
[use this version]
Rights Group Calls for Restrictions on Military Assistance to
Indonesia to Promote Reform and Accountability
House Committee Would Turn a Blind Eye to Rights Violations, Impunity
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller (718) 596-7668; (917) 690-4391 (cell)
Karen Orenstein (202) 544-6911
May 25, 2006 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
today urged Congress to restore restrictions on military assistance
for Indonesia in the FY 2007 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.
Over the objection of the Foreign Operations Appropriations
Subcommittee Ranking Member, Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chairperson Jim Kolbe
(R-AZ) insisted on funding weapons sales and military training for Indonesia.
"The committee's failure under Mr. Kolbe's leadership to impose any
conditions on assistance to the Indonesian military will only setback
reform and accountability. The committee has turned a blind eye to
the ongoing violations, impunity, and horrific record of the
Indonesian military (TNI), a record acknowledged in report language
accompanying the bill," said Karen Orenstein, National Coordinator for ETAN.
"The TNI pays attention to Congress's action, not its rhetoric,"
"In the past, Congress has consistently imposed limits on assistance
to Indonesia to promote human rights and reform," said Orenstein. "We
urge Congress to continue in that tradition, by restoring
restrictions without a waiver before passing the bill."
Highlights of the Bill
The committee recommended $4,500,000 foreign military financing (FMF)
program for Indonesia, $3,510,000 more than this year, but $2 million
less than the administration's request. The committee expressed
"continuing concern about the professionalism of the Indonesian
military" and stated that providing additional assistance in "no way
signals decreased concern about the poor human rights record of the
Indonesian military forces."
The TNI's record in Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) was most
recently documented in the report of its Commission for Reception,
Truth and Reconciliation. The committee welcomed this report and
urged "the Governments of Indonesia, East Timor, and other interested
nations to examine, consider and respond to recommendations made in
the report." It also urged "the Government of Indonesia to work to
implement" the recommendations of the UN Secretary General's
Commission of Experts, which last year evaluated accountability for
serious crimes committed in East Timor in 1999.
The committee further directed the Department of State "to report on
the current climate for human rights defenders in Indonesia." The
committee highlighted the September 2004 poisoning death of human
rights lawyer Munir Said Thalib, noting that Indonesia's president
had yet to release the report of the his own fact-finding team's
investigation into the assassination and emphasized "the need to
fully investigate any past or present senior government or military
officials implicated by that report."
Last November, Congress agreed to continue restrictions on Foreign
Military Financing (FMF) and export of "lethal" military equipment to
Indonesia until human rights and other conditions were met. Two days
after the bill became law, the Department of State issued a waiver
removing these restrictions. Congress had imposed various
restrictions on military assistance for Indonesia since 1992.
When issuing the waiver, the State Department pledged to "carefully
calibrate" any assistance to the TNI. Instead, the administration's
actions have demonstrated a policy of unrestrained engagement with the TNI.
Last week, 15 human rights, religious and other organizations urged
the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee to reinstate
restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia as the best way
"to influence positive change in Indonesia and to encourage justice
for the people of Timor-Leste." They called legislated restrictions
on FMF and lethal defense exports, without a national security
waiver, "the most important leverage the U.S. Congress can exercise."
Earlier in May, the administration announced it would provide up to
$19 million for the Indonesian military through a new Pentagon
program "to build foreign military force capacity." The groups in
their letter wrote, "This amount dwarfs recent assistance levels,"
and that "this appropriation further invalidates any justification to
provide FMF for Indonesia for FY07...."
In addition to assistance through the new Pentagon program, recent
administration moves have included the participation of the commander
of Kopassus, the Indonesian military's notorious special forces unit,
in the Pentagon's annual Pacific Area Special Operation Conference
(PASOC) in April. This month, the Indonesian military for the first
time is participating in the Cobra Gold regional military exercise
with the United States and other countries.
In its final report, Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth
and Reconciliation called on countries to make military assistance to
Indonesia "totally conditional on progress towards full
democratisation, the subordination of the military to the rule of law
and civilian government, and strict adherence with international
In March, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command stated in
testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that he endorsed
"a rapid, concerted infusion of assistance" for the TNI.
ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor
and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute
crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975 to 1999 and
for restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until there
is genuine reform of its security forces. For additional background,
ETAN welcomes your financial support. For more info:
John M. Miller Internet: fbp at igc.org
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network:
48 Duffield St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097
Mobile phone: (917)690-4391
Web site: http://www.etan.org
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