The Indonesia Human Rights Network & East Timor Action Network/U.S.
Contact: John M. Miller
(ETAN), 718-596-7668; 917-690-4391
Kurt Biddle (IHRN), 202-544-1211
The CARAT 2001 (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) military exercise with the TNI is scheduled to begin May 17 in the Riau Islands. Previous CARATs, including one held in August 1999 just before East Timor’s independence vote, have included patrolling, live fire training, and raids.
Some Indonesian officers went directly from the 1999 exercise to East Timor and participated in the referendum-period violence there. Indonesian military officers this month are also observing the annual Cobra Gold exercise which involves the U.S., Thailand and Singapore.
“The U.S. should refuse to engage the Indonesian military in any way while it rejects cooperation with UN investigations of human rights abuses in East Timor and continues to promote many of the officers identified as most responsible for the violence during East Timor’s referendum. Not one has been indicted or tried,” said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. “The few militia prosecuted so far have received token sentences. The militias in West Timor continue to operate with TNI support, persecuting East Timorese refugees and launching raids across the East Timor border.”
“This exercise is taking place just 400 miles from the region of Aceh, where Indonesian security forces are killing civilians on a daily basis,” said Kurt Biddle, Washington coordinator for IHRN. “The Indonesian armed forces operate without any concern for human rights there. In December, they murdered three humanitarian workers, and just last week beat up three journalists.”
“IHRN and ETAN are working with members of Congress and others to make sure that U.S.-Indonesia relations promote human rights and democracy rather than a return to old habits of coddling a military whose commitment to reform is highly suspect,” added Biddle.
“Whenever the U.S. Congress or administration has blocked military training or weapons transfers, the Indonesian military has taken notice. But each time the U.S. has moved to resume or reinforce military ties, TNI has taken it as signal to continue its brutal business as usual,” said Miller.
On September 9, 1999 President Clinton
suspended all U.S. ties with Indonesia. Soon after, the Indonesian military
began to pull out of East Timor and Indonesia gave permission for an international
peacekeeping force to enter the territory. Later that year Congress put
part of this ban into law. The FY 2001 Foreign Operations Appropriations
Act renewed those conditions which must be met before normal military ties
can be restored. These include the return of refugees to East Timor
and accountability for military and militia members responsible for human
rights atrocities in East Timor and Indonesia. They also require Indonesia
to actively prevent militia incursions into East Timor and to cooperate
fully with the UN administration in East Timor. None of these conditions
have been met.
The CARAT 1998 was cancelled after the congressional uproar over JCET (Joint Combined Exchange Training), the program under which the U.S. taught urban warfare and sniper techniques in circumvention of the congressional ban on IMET (International Military Exchange Training) for Indonesia.
In testimony before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights on May 11, 2000, journalist Allan Nairn, said “One of these officers, Lt. Col. (later Col.) Willem, helped coordinate the Indonesian naval forces in CARAT and then went to Dili where he served as a senior official in KOREM military headquarters, the very base from which the Aitarak militias staged their terror raids during late September. I saw this first hand since I was a prisoner in KOREM and was interrogated by Col. Willem.”
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN). ETAN 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. ETAN, which has 28 local chapters throughout the U.S., calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity which took place in East Timor since 1975. For additional information see ETAN’s web site (http://www.etan.org)
The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to educate and activate the U.S. public and influence U.S. foreign policy and private financial interests to support democracy, demilitarization, accountability, rule of law, and civil society in Indonesia. We seek to help end armed forces repression and violence in Indonesia by exposing it to international scrutiny. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago. For more information see http://www.indonesianetwork.org
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