John M. Miller / East Timor Action Network – 2005-03-04 22:09:24
State Department’s Restoration of Funds for Indonesia Military Called a Setback for Justice and Human Rights
John M. Miller / East Timor Action Network
(February 27, 2005) — The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today condemned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s decision to resume full International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia. Yesterday, the State Department announced that Secretary Rice had “determined that Indonesia has satisfied legislative conditions for restarting” IMET.
In a statement, John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN said:
“The release of full IMET for Indonesia is a setback for justice, human rights and democratic reform. We urge the administration to reconsider its decision and call on Congress to put in place tighter and broader restrictions on all military assistance to Indonesia.
“The Indonesian military’s many victims throughout the country and East Timor will recognize this policy shift as a betrayal of their quests for justice and accountability.
“While the amount of money may be small, its symbolic value is enormous. The Indonesian military (TNI) will view the restoration of IMET as an endorsement of business as usual. For the TNI, business as usual means brutal human rights violations and continued impunity for crimes against humanity.
“In recent years Congress has maintained only one condition on full IMET cooperation by Indonesian authorities with an FBI investigation into the ambush murders of two Americans on a Freeport company mining road in Timika, West Papua. But cooperation by Indonesia has been spotty at best. The sole suspect indicted so far by a United States grand jury remains at large in Indonesia. His military links, which appear to be extensive, seem to have hardly been examined. Military stonewalling of the investigation into the ambush will undoubtedly intensify.
“Given this lack of progress, the State Department’s certification of cooperation is false and misleading. It has far more to do with fulfilling the administration’s long-term goal of re-engagement with the Indonesian military, than bringing to justice all those responsible for the ambush or encouraging democratic reforms.
“Indonesia has yet to fulfill previous conditions on IMET, including accountability for rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia and transparency in the military budget. In fact, the TNI continues to aggressively violate human rights, especially in West Papua and tsunami-stricken Aceh. Many of those indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor continue to maintain powerful positions.
“By restoring IMET the U.S. is in effect saying, ‘Nevermind, we really didn’t mean it,’ when it comes to solving the Timika ambush or establishing accountability for crimes against humanity. Reform efforts will certainly be set back and the TNI’s corrupt, abusive ways will continue.”
Congress first voted to restrict Indonesia from receiving IMET, which brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training, in response to the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre of more than 270 civilians in East Timor by Indonesian troops wielding US-supplied M-16 rifles. All military ties with Indonesia were severed in September 1999 as the TNI and its militia proxies razed East Timor.
In the 1990s Paul Wolfowitz, a former ambassador to Indonesia who is now Deputy Secretary of Defense and the main architect of the Bush administration’s push to step up military engagement with Indonesia, argued before Congress that Indonesia’s extremely limited prosecutions of some low-level soldiers for the Santa Cruz massacre represented an achievement in accountability for human rights violations.
Wolfowitz recently said that Indonesia has entered a “new era.” He once told Congress that “Any balanced judgment” of the country’s human rights situation under then-President and dictator Suharto, “needs to take account of the significant progress that Indonesia has already made” due to Suharto’s “strong and remarkable leadership.”
Suharto is considered one of the 20th century’s greatest war criminals, responsible for the deaths of millions and the plundering of billions from impoverished Indonesia.
Deadly Attack at US-owned Mining Concession
The TNI has been implicated in the August 2002 attack within the mining concession of Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan, which also killed an Indonesian teacher and seriously wounded 11 people, including a six-year-old child.
An Indonesian citizen, Anthonius Wamang, was indicted in June 2004 by a US grand jury. The killings took place in an area under full TNI control. According to local human rights investigators, Wamang has extensive ties to the Indonesian military as a business partner of Kopassus, the Indonesian army’s notorious special forces.
In an August 2004 television interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Wamang said that he got his ammunition for the attack from Indonesian military personnel. He has told the FBI and local human rights groups that these officers knew that he was about to carry out an attack in the Freeport concession.
The TNI routinely uses militia proxies to stage attacks, in hopes of covering up their role. Local NGOs have recently uncovered additional evidence of Wamang’s interaction with the military just prior to the ambush.
In February 2004, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Patsy Spier, whose husband was killed during the ambush and who was herself wounded, that his definition of “cooperation” was to see the Timika case through to “its exhaustion.”
The State Department says it “expects that Indonesia’s resumption of full International Military Education and Training will strengthen its ongoing democratic progress.” However, Indonesia’s minister of defense, Juwono Sudarsono, recently told the New York Times that the military “retains the real levers of power” and “from the political point of view, the military remains the fulcrum of Indonesia.”
Last June, while serving as Jakarta’s ambassador to London, he wrote, “Six years of civilian-based party politics has not resulted in any measurable degree of effective ‘civilian supremacy’, much less ‘civilian control’.”
East Timorese and Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly called for restrictions on military engagement to be maintained. Victims and survivors of the West Papua killings have called for restrictions to continue until their case is resolved.
Many in Congress insist that the condition on IMET should remain in place until the investigation is completed and those responsible for the August 2002 attack are brought to justice.
Additional background can be found at http://etan.org/action/issues/miltie.htm.
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 continued restrictions on US military assistance to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces. Since its founding in 1991, ETAN has pressed for restricting US military engagement with Indonesia.
John Miller is the Media & Outreach Coordinator for the East Timor Action Network: 12 Years for Self-Determination & Justice 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