Rights groups condemn end run on military training restrictions
ETAN/IHRN Press Release - December 20, 2001
New defense appropriations provision called “sneak attack” on human rights
The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) and East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today strongly condemned a provision in the Defense Department Appropriations bill (HR 3388) aimed at funding US training of the Indonesian military (TNI).
“This is a sneak attack undermining hard-won restrictions on military training for Indonesia and other severely abusive militaries,” said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) inserted language (section 8118) appropriating $21 million to establish a Regional Defense Counter-terrorism Fellowship Program at the behest of Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Command (CINCPAC). There are no restrictions on which countries can participate in the new program, allowing training for Indonesia. Both men have long opposed existing congressional bans on training for the TNI.
The Secretaries of Defense and State will jointly decide which countries will be eligible for the program, but existing legislated restrictions on training for Indonesia will not apply. Training will likely take place in the Asia-Pacific Center in Hawaii, which works closely with CINCPAC. The appropriations bill is expected to pass this week.
“Counter-terrorism must not be used as an excuse to resume training for a military which terrorizes its own people and continues to enjoy impunity for its scorched-earth campaign in East Timor,” said Kurt Biddle, Washington Coordinator of IHRN. “The bill does not specify what will be taught in the program. There is no requirement preventing these funds from being used to train the Indonesian military, and we don’t think they should.”
The Pentagon’s move to circumvent the congressional ban on International Military Education and Training (IMET) is remarkably similar to their Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program. JCET was suspended in spring 1998 following congressional and grassroots outrage. Under JCET, US soldiers trained Indonesian special forces in a variety of terror tactics.
Congress first voted to restrict IMET for Indonesia, which brings foreign military officers to the US 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. The conditions codified into law in late 1999 include the safe return of East Timorese refugees, prosecution of those responsible for atrocities in East Timor and Indonesia, and security for East Timor from military and militia activity. None of these conditions have been met. The Foreign Operations appropriations bill is expected to pass this week.
“Until the Indonesian military and government comply with the very reasonable conditions in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the US government should not be training Indonesian military personnel. These restrictions were put in place for a reason,” added Miller.
John M. Miller, 718-5967668;
Kurt Biddle (IHRN);
Timor Action Network U.S. Updated May 19
ETAN/US was founded following the November 1991 massacre. ETAN/US supports a genuine and peaceful transition to an independent East Timor. It also supports human dignity for the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, sustainable development, social, legal, and economic justice and human rights, including women’s rights.
East Timor was invaded and subjugated by US ally Indonesia in 1975. East Timor chose independence in August 1999 and was soon destroyed by the Indonesian military. It is now administered by the UN.
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The Indonesia Human Rights Network Updated Feb 15
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