The groups are deeply concerned by reported administration plans
to release military training funds under the IMET program this month
and to request funds for weapons under the Foreign Military Financing
(FMF) program for 2006. The organizations said that Indonesia has
yet to fully meet past and current Congressional conditions restricting
Indonesia's access to the programs.
In a letter sent today to the Secretary of State, the groups called
the Indonesian military "an unreformed violator of human rights…on
a daunting scale"" in Aceh, Papua and elsewhere.
"Moving forward with FMF and IMET would break faith with those
struggling for democratic reform in Indonesia. It would additionally
weaken the hand of the civilian government vis-à-vis an Indonesian
military whose reputation would only be burnished by increased U.S.
engagement," the letter added.
As evidence of continued military impunity, the letter highlighted
the recent appeals court ruling which overturned the few convictions
of Indonesian military and police officers charged with crimes against
humanity in East Timor in 1999.
The letter was sent just days before Indonesia votes for president
in a run-off election on Monday, September 20, and at a time when
the State Department appears to intend to move forward with plans
to release IMET funds for Indonesia.
A copy of the letter, coordinated by the East Timor Action Network
(ETAN), appears below. A complete list of signatures is available
In addition to ETAN, signers include representatives of the United
Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society; Human
Rights Watch/Asia; Institute on Religion and Public Policy; Peace
Action; Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church; Center for
International Policy; Center for Human Rights, Robert F. Kennedy
Memorial; Global Exchange; NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice
Lobby; Pax Christi USA; Common Global Ministries of the United Church
of Christ and the Disciples of Christ; U.S. Section of Women's International
League for Peace and Freedom; World Organization for Human Rights
USA; and West Papua Action Network.
15 September 2004
Secretary of State Colin Powell
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20500
VIA Facsimile: 202-261-8577
Dear Secretary Powell:
We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned over reported plans by
the Department of State to furnish foreign military financing (FMF)
for Indonesia in the Administration's FY06 budget request. We strongly
oppose any consideration of FMF for Indonesia at this juncture.
We equally oppose the potential release of International Military
Education and Training (IMET) funds for Indonesia in FY04.
Opposition to FMF for Indonesia, broadly shared in Congress, is
based on the Indonesian military's (TNI) continuing record of human
rights abuses and impunity. Your own department's annual human rights
reports to Congress, as well as reporting by international NGOs,
reveal the TNI as an unreformed violator of human rights. Reflecting
this broad consensus among observers of the TNI, Congress has restricted
FMF for Indonesia since FY 2000, conditioning its provision on accountability
and justice for the military’s gross human rights violations.
However, military impunity remains solidly ingrained as a consequence
of the TNI’s undemocratic power, as well as the weakness and
corruption of Indonesia’s courts and prosecutorial system.
In August, an appeals court in Indonesia overturned the convictions
of four Indonesian military and police officers charged with crimes
against humanity in East Timor in 1999. Commendably, the State Department
noted that it was “profoundly disappointed with the performance
and record of the Indonesian ad hoc tribunal," the special
institution that was created in the wake of the murder of more than
1,400 East Timorese by Indonesian security forces and their hireling
militias. Only two of the 18 defendants brought before the tribunal
have been convicted and had their sentences upheld under appeal.
Both are East Timorese. A similar Indonesian tribunal formed to
ensure military accountability for the 1984 massacre of Muslim protesters
at Tanjung Priok in Jakarta also recently failed to deliver justice.
Emboldened by assurance of its impunity, the Indonesian military
continues to violate human rights on a daunting scale. Notwithstanding
an end to martial law in Aceh, TNI operations continue to exact
a bloody toll at the same pace set during martial law. Human rights
and humanitarian organizations, journalists and others continue
to face insurmountable barriers to gaining access to and functioning
in Aceh. Following the TNI’s self-proclaimed "exoneration"
after the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent indictment for
the murder and serious wounding of U.S. citizens in Timika in August
2002, human rights and humanitarian organizations in West Papua
report increased intimidation by the TNI and its militias.
Congress has also conditioned FMF for Indonesia on transparency
in the military's budget. The TNI remains a massively corrupt institution.
In the report accompanying the Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations
for FY03, the Appropriations Committee stated that they were “…concerned
about the Indonesian military's continued involvement in illegal
business practices and other activities, including prostitution,
contraband smuggling, and illegal logging which threatens Indonesia's
Regardless of the outcome of the September 20 presidential election
run-off, it is very unlikely that, in the short term, any civilian
government can reverse the trend of an increasingly powerful military.
President Megawati has consistently demonstrated an inability or
unwillingness to control the TNI. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was a
career soldier, a Suharto-era general who served as a commander
in East Timor in the 1980s. There is near unanimous agreement inside
Indonesia and out that military reform is dead. The military bill
now before parliament is likely to even further solidify its dominance
Indonesian advocates for democracy, human rights and military reform
have publicly urged that the U.S. not reward the TNI with assistance
and improved ties absent demonstrable progress toward genuine reform
and justice for rights violations. Risking - and in some instances
experiencing - acts of revenge by the Indonesian military, they
have repeatedly described restrictions on U.S.-Indonesia military
cooperation, including the ban on FMF and restriction of IMET, as
critical leverage in their efforts. Moving forward with FMF and
IMET would break faith with those struggling for democratic reform
in Indonesia. It would additionally weaken the hand of the civilian
government vis-à-vis an Indonesian military whose reputation
would only be burnished by increased U.S. engagement.
Provision of FMF for Indonesia in FY06 would exacerbate ongoing
violations and corruption by rewarding such behavior. It is imprudent
and unjustified. Provision of IMET in FY04 is also entirely unwarranted.
We thank you for your serious consideration of this most important
matter and look forward to your response.