March 29 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
denounced today's formal notice that the Department of State will
consider provision of lethal military equipment to Indonesia. ETAN
called it a major step undermining military reform and justice for
the people of Indonesia and East Timor.
The notice appeared in today's Federal Register stating "that
requests for the export or retransfer of lethal defense articles to
Indonesia (and defense services related to such lethal defense
articles) pursuant to section 38 of the Arms Export Control Act will
be considered on a case-by-case basis."
The Bush administration's imprudent rush to expand assistance to the
Indonesian military (TNI) is extremely alarming and short-sighted,"
said Karen Orenstein, National Coordinator of ETAN.
As the cycle of impunity continues unabated in Indonesia, the State
Department is set to resume lethal defense exports. The floodgates of
assistance seem to be open," said Orenstein. "Where is the 'carefully
calibrated' approach toward aiding the TNI that the State Department
promised last November after it waived congressional restrictions?
Was the State Department's professed commitment to human rights and
justice reform in Indonesia in justifying the waiver simply hollow rhetoric?"
In February, the Bush administration proposed a six and a half fold
increase in Foreign Military Financing for Indonesia. In early March,
Admiral William F. Fallon, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command,
urged a "rapid, concerted infusion of assistance" to the Indonesian military.
"The U.S. needs a forward-looking policy toward Indonesia that
promotes genuine accountability for human rights crimes and real
reform of its corrupt military. Providing military assistance will
undermine both," said Orenstein.
Last November, the Department of State issued a waiver removing all
remaining congressional restrictions on U.S. military assistance to
Indonesia. Congress had imposed various restrictions since 1992.
East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation has
called on countries to make military assistance to Indonesia "totally
conditional on progress towards full democratization, the
subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian
government, and strict adherence with international human rights..."
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 U.S. military assistance to Indonesia
until there is genuine reform of its security forces. For additional
background, see www.etan.org.