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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 16, 2002
5:27 PM
CONTACT:  East Timor Action Network
John M. Miller, 718-5967668; mobile: 917-690-4391
Karen Orenstein, 202-544-6911
Groups Urge Congress to Continue Restrictions on U.S. Military Assistance to Indonesia
ETAN Releases Report Detailing Indonesia's Failure to Meet Congressional Conditions
 
WASHINGTON - July 16 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) along with representatives of 56 other organizations today called on Congress to renew restrictions on military training and weapons sales to Indonesia.

In a letter sent to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the groups warned, "The 'war on terrorism' should not become a vehicle to support state-sponsored military terror on civilians in Indonesia."

The letter urged Congress to renew the "Leahy conditions" restricting Indonesia's participation in International Military Training and Education (IMET) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programs. The letter also argued against including Indonesian security forces in the recently-established "Regional Counter-terrorism Fellowship" program.

"It is counter-productive... to withhold prestigious U.S. military training in order to encourage military reform and accountability for crimes against humanity while offering the same training under a different program," the letter stated. "The Pentagon and others in the Administration have argued that the U.S. needs to open channels in order to influence the TNI. We remain unconvinced about what influence the Pentagon hopes to achieve, when past experience demonstrates that exposure to U.S. military culture has done little or nothing to improve TNI practices."

The full text of the letter and its signatories can be found at http://www.etan.org/news/2002a/07letter.htm.

A separate report issued this week by ETAN documented Indonesia's failure to comply with the seven "Leahy conditions." ("Leahy Conditions on Restrictions of Military Assistance for Indonesia Have Not Been Met," http://www.etan.org/news/2002a/07leahy.htm). These conditions, codified in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, call for prosecution of those responsible for atrocities in East Timor and Indonesia, an end to military support for militia groups, return of refugees, the release of political detainees, access to conflict regions by international organizations, and accounting for the military's receipts and expenditures.

Congress first voted to restrict IMET for Indonesia, which brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training, in response to the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor. All military ties were severed in September 1999 as the Indonesian military and its militia proxies razed East Timor following its pro-independence vote. Congress first passed the "Leahy conditions" in late 1999 and strengthened them last November. The president must certify that the Indonesia has met these conditions before regular IMET and FMF can be restored for Indonesia.

House and Senate Appropriations Committees are now considering next fiscal year's appropriations bills. Congress has come under increasing pressure from the Bush administration to lift restrictions on U.S.-Indonesia military ties.

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (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. See http://www.etan.org.

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