- October 30 - Expressing strong dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in investigating the killing of two U.S. citizens in Indonesia, the U.S. Senate yesterday agreed unanimously to ban International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia.
The Senate passed two provisions addressing IMET in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. One amendment, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), bans regular IMET. The second, by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), states that any "normalization" of the U.S.-Indonesia military cannot begin until there is "full cooperation" with the FBI in its investigation into the August 31, 2002, ambush which killed three and wounded 11 Americans and Indonesians in Timika, Indonesia, and until those individuals responsible for the murders are brought to justice.
Senator Allard cited the Timika killings as the main motivation for his amendment.
The Feingold amendment further stated that "respect of the Indonesia military for human rights and the improvement in relations between the military and civilian population are extremely important for the future of relations between the United States and Indonesia."
In an interview prior to his recent visit to Indonesia, President Bush stated that "Congress has changed their attitude" and was ready to provide further military assistance "because of the cooperation of the government on the killings of two U.S. citizens."
"Clearly, President Bush was wrong. Congress remains deeply disturbed by the lack of progress in these terrorist killings in Papua," said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator of the East Timor Action Network. "The U.S. has a national interest in a democratic Indonesia, which respects human rights and holds violators accountable. History shows that providing prestigious U.S. military training to Indonesia has never brought that goal closer."
In two votes last July, the House of Representatives also agreed unanimously to restrict IMET for Indonesia. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a similar provision last May.
While praising these actions, ETAN urged Congress to expand the conditions on resumption of IMET.
"Many past Congressional conditions, including accountability for rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia and transparency in the military budget, have never been met," said Orenstein. "Now, a massive military assault is being perpetrated against the people of Aceh - replete with extra-judicial executions, torture, rape and displacement - utilizing U.S.-supplied weapons. All assistance to the Indonesian military must be terminated, including counter-terrorism assistance"
Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) co-sponsored the Allard amendment.Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Campbell co-sponsored the Feingold amendment.
The House and Senate versions of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill would both continue to ban foreign military financing for Indonesia.
Conferees from both chambers of Congress must meet to reconcile any differences between their versions of the appropriations bill before final passage.
Indonesian police and non-governmental organization investigations have strongly implicated the TNI for the murder of two U.S. citizens and one Indonesian in Papua on August 31, 2002. Eight U.S. citizens, including a six-year-old child, and three Indonesians were seriously wounded in the ambush in the mining operations area of the Louisiana-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc. The U.S. embassy in Jakarta called the ambush "a terrorist attack."
Congress first voted to restrict IMET military training for Indonesia, which brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training, in response to the 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" on IMET and other military assistance in late 1999. Congress originally approved $400,000 for IMET in FY03 but Indonesia's participation in the program was ultimately limited to Expanded IMET. On July 24, the House voted to strip a $600,000 appropriation for International Military Education and Training (IMET) intended for Indonesia for FY04. In May, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved reinstating the ban on IMET for Indonesia. The Allard amendment bans regular IMET unless the president "determines important national security interests" justify a waiver.
ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975 and continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces.