Will U.S. – Indonesia fresh call for military aid to Indonesia is merely political interests for both governments? We have to be more cautious on this development. In chronological order. Highlights are mine.
Source: The Oregonian
Date: 20 Jan 2005
Indonesian military ‘thuggish’
By Max White
The tsunami that struck Indonesia should not be an excuse used to sweep away restrictions on our assisting its brutal military. You reported that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz toured the devastation of Banda Aceh, Indonesia (Briefly, Jan. 16).
Wolfowitz, a primary planner of the Iraq war, said he will bring a recommendation about future assistance to Indonesia when he returns.
Restrictions on U.S. military ties to the Indonesian military were first put in place because of that military’s actions in East Timor. Since then, Indonesia has made a mockery of international calls for justice for past human rights violations.
Meanwhile, abuses by Indonesia’s military continue in Aceh, adding near-insufferable pain to that faced by families from the natural disaster.
Congress must reject any administration request to provide weapons and training to Indonesia, until its military genuinely changes its thuggish ways.
Max White is country specialist for Indonesia and Timor Leste, Amnesty International, USA Southwest, Portland.
Source: Baltimore Sun
Date: 29 Jan 2005
Restrictions on aid protect Indonesians
By John M. Miller – Saturday Mailbox, Page 13A
The Sun is right to urge the United States not to resume military assistance to Indonesia (“War and aid in Aceh,” editorial, Jan. 19).
The Indonesian military has failed to meet sensible conditions placed on cooperation by the U.S. Congress. These included justice and accountability for past human rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere, and an end to its backing of fundamentalists and other militia, such as those that have recently arrived in disaster-stricken Aceh.
However, long-time observers might question The Sun’s assertion that “U.S. training would serve as a civilizing influence on the Indonesian army.”
Senior Indonesian officials have repeatedly made clear that they are not interested in human rights training.
More telling is the fact that the military’s worst abuses took place when the United States was fully engaged. During that period, President Suharto, Indonesia’s dictator, brutally seized power, Indonesia invaded East Timor and martial law was first imposed on Aceh.
These actions and others took the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Since restrictions on aid were put in place, some progress has been made. For example, East Timor is now independent after a U.N.-conducted referendum in 1999.
John M. Miller
The writer is media and outreach coordinator for the East Timor Action Network.
Source: The Jakarta Post
Date: 31 Jan 2005
Human rights group criticizes latest TNI reshuffle
By Tiarma Siboro, Jakarta
The appointment of Army Special Forces (Kopassus) commander Maj. Gen. Sriyanto Muntrasan as the new commander of the high profile Siliwangi Military Command overseeing West Java drew strong criticism from a human rights group and expert.
Coordinator of the National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Usman Hamid said policy makers at Indonesian Military (TNI) headquarters are supposed to take into consideration the track record of their senior officers with regard to human rights when they are being promoted.
Meanwhile, analyst Ikrar Nusa Bakti of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said that promoting a controversial figure like Sriyanto reflected the prevailing narrow thinking of the TNI on human rights values and the failure of the TNI’s much touted internal reform measures.
The two were commenting on a major reshuffle in the TNI that was announced over the weekend, affecting 42 high-ranking officers. The appointment of Sriyanto to the Siliwangi Military Command has raised many eyebrows due to his alleged involvement in human rights violations in the past.
Sriyanto was chief of operations at the North Jakarta Military Command when the Tanjung Priok incident occurred in 1988, when troops open fire on demonstrators, killing 24 people and injuring 54 others, according toofficial figures.
Last year, Sriyanto stood trial before the ad hoc human rights tribunal, but the panel of judges acquitted him of all charges in November. The Attorney General’s Office plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, meaning that the legal process is still ongoing.
Another controversial figure being promoted is Col. Chairawan, a senior Koppasus officer. Although his name was not included in the list of 42 officers announced on Saturday, Army spokesman Hotmangaradja Pandjaitan confirmed on Sunday rumors that Chairawan would be appointed as the new commander of the Lilawangsa Military Resort overseeing northern Aceh trough to eastern Aceh.
“Nasution will be replaced by Chairawan,” Hotma told The Post.
Chairawan, who will replace Col. Azmyn Yusri Nasution, has been grounded for years following the kidnappings of pro-democracy activists in late 1990s.
The TNI in 2003 launched a massive offensive against Free Aceh Movement insurgents, who has been fighting for sovereignty for the oil and gas-rich Aceh province for decades. There have been concerns that continuing violence involving GAM and the TNI could disrupt distribution of relief aid in the tsunami-hit province.
Usman said that although President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could not interfere in the reshuffle process affecting two-star generals and other officers below that rank, “he should not turn a blind eye, unless he also cares little about human rights issues.”
He expressed the fear that the promotion of the two controversial senior officers to strategic posts was a further sign of their impunity even at a time when rights groups were still pressing for legal cases against the two for past rights violations.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Date: 31 Jan 2005
U.S. to Revisit Jakarta Army Aid
Rice Likely to Tell Congress
Indonesia Has Met Criteria For Resuming Military Ties
By Murray Hiebert in Washington and Timothy Mapes in Jakarta.
Staff Reporters of The Wall Street Journal
The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to begin pressing Congress to permit the resumption of American training for Indonesian armed-forces officers in a step to repair military ties disrupted more than a decade ago over human-rights abuses by Jakarta’s army.
Administration officials say aides to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have recommended she notify Congress that Indonesia has fulfilled a crucial requirement clearing the way for the resumption of military relations: that Jakarta is cooperating with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in the investigation of the murder of two American school teachers in the Indonesian province of Papua in 2002. “Things are in motion to do this quickly,” a U.S. State Department official said.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who visited Indonesia in mid-January to see American efforts to help tsunami victims, said the U.S. ought to “reconsider a bit” restrictions on military training and arms sales in response to recent efforts by the Indonesian armed forces to reform. Mr. Wolfowitz, ambassador to Jakarta in the late 1980s, noted it had been easier for U.S. forces to coordinate tsunami relief with Thailand than Indonesia because of Washington’s longstanding military ties with Bangkok.
The U.S. cut military aid to Jakarta after Indonesian troops killed 57 demonstrators in East Timor in 1991, when the territory was part of Indonesia. Restrictions were stiffened as Washington pressed Jakarta to hold its military commanders responsible for a spree of violence in East Timor in 1999 after the territory voted for independence in a United Nations-supervised referendum.
In the U.S. foreign aid bill passed late last year, Congress made any resumption of U.S. military training for Indonesian officers dependent on certification from the secretary of state that Indonesia was helping the FBI investigate the killing of the American teachers in Papua. A preliminary Indonesian police report in 2003 concluded there was a “strong possibility” the attack was mounted by elements of the Indonesian military. At the time, U.S. State Department officials echoed those findings. The military has denied the allegation.
Indonesia initially refused to cooperate with the FBI probe, but more recently Jakarta has allowed investigators to visit the ambush site and question local military officials. Last June, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that an indictment on murder and attempted murder charges had been brought against Anthonius Wamang, who it alleged is a leader of the separatist Free Papua Movement. But officials of that group deny that Mr. Wamang is a part of itand insist their group had no involvement in the killings.
The FBI hasn’t been invited back to Indonesia since then, although negotiations are under way to send another team. Seven months after the U.S. indictment, Mr. Wamang remains free in Indonesia, where he has given an interview to a local human-rights group called Elsham — later broadcast on Australian television — in which he acknowledged taking part in the attack on the teachers. He also said he had a longstanding relationship with military commanders in Papua and claimed that bullets used in the murders came from the Indonesian military.
Patsy Spier, the widow of one of the teachers killed and who herself was wounded in the attack, has pressed U.S. officials and Congress to maintain the ban on training — under the program called International Military and Education Training, or IMET — until Indonesia arrests Mr. Wamang. Ms. Spier credits Indonesia’s recent cooperation to the U.S. ban and she wants it maintained until the investigation is complete. “It wasn’t until the IMET ban was used as an incentive that cooperation with U.S. investigators began to take place,” Ms. Spier said.
The amount of aid that would be made available for training Indonesian officers through the program is a relatively small $600,000 for the U.S. fiscal year ending Sept. 30. This is only a fraction of such aid available for military personnel from Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and the Philippines.
Some counterterrorism training for Indonesian forces was resumed after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and Washington has frequently said it wants to make Indonesia’s military a closer ally in the global war on terrorism. But key members of Congress have repeatedly shot down such efforts at reconciliation because of their concerns that the Indonesian military hasn’t improved its human-rights record.
A senior Western official in Jakarta familiar with the discussions on resuming IMET aid acknowledged the obstacles it faces in Congress, but noted that Indonesia’s elections last year produced a new government under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that seems much more committed to reform than prior administrations. “There’s now a strong sense that we need to look again at the whole relationship,” he said.
Last week, Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said the restrictions were “punishing” the country and said he plans to go to Washington in March to try to get the U.S. policy changed.
Ms. Rice is already lobbying Congress to resume IMET assistance. “IMET for Indonesia is in the U.S. interest,” she said in a written response to aquestion from Senator Joseph Biden at her confirmation hearing. “The aim of IMET is to strengthen the professionalism of military officers, especially with respect to the norms of democratic civil-military relations such as transparency, civilian supremacy, public accountability and respect for human rights.”
Bush administration officials have argued that banning military training makes it difficult for a new generation of Indonesian officers to obtain the skills needed to develop a more professional army. Mr. Yudhoyono himself is a former general who studied on several occasions at U.S. military colleges.
Write to Murray Hiebert at firstname.lastname@example.org and Timothy Mapes at email@example.com
Source: The Jakarta Post
Date: 1 Feb 2005
Rights Abuses Remain Widespread: Imparsial
By Hera Diani, Jakarta
A report released on Monday by a human rights watchdog said that human rights abuses perpetrated by the state continued to be widespread over the past year, with the government still placing heavy emphasis on security while denying people their civil rights.
Rights group Imparsial said that the governments of both Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his predecessor Megawati Soekarnoputri had adopted policies and issued regulations that threatened civil liberties.
The two administrations also inflicted violence on civilians in the name of advancing government policy, it added.
Citing examples, Impartial highlighted such cases as the imposition of a state of emergency in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, the carrying out of death sentences, the increasing power of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), violence against human rights defenders, and military and police brutality.
The group recorded that the extended emergency in Aceh, which started in May 2003, had resulted in 428 incidences of violence against civilians, including murder (92 cases), torture (222 cases), unlawful arrest (55 cases) and disappearances (59 cases).
As for the death penalty, which was handed down mostly in drug cases last year, Imparsial said that it was a betrayal of citizens’ constitutional rights.
“The death penalty is merely a political tool as the government wants to look firm and strict by imposing it. But it’s totally against human rights,” Imparsial director Rachland Nashiddik told a year-end media conference inJakarta.
The watchdog also criticized the increasing involvement of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the legal field, which it said was to blame for the increase in the incidence of repression against civilians, especially in remote regions.
Such cases included BIN’s ban on two overseas nationals working with the World Bank from attending a seminar held in East Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan, to discuss efforts to improve the mechanisms for settling land and other disputes at the village level, Impartial said.
Closely related to this, it said, was the Indonesian Military Law (TNI) enacted in 2004, which maintained intact the military’s territorial command structure — something that has raised public concern.
Another major case featured in the report was last year’s murder of Munir, a co-founder of Impartial and former director of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
Imparsial said that aside from the Munir case, at least 165 local human rights activists had fallen victim to various abuses, such as murder, detention, assault/torture, sexual harassment, threats and intimidation.
Such cases occurred not only in conflict areas but right across the country, it added.
“If the state treats human rights defenders with disdain, the question of protecting human beings becomes a very worrying one. If such cases can happen to high profile activists, what can happen to ordinary civilians?” asked Imparsial activist Pungky Indarti.
The group also highlighted many cases of violence inflicted by police on protesters in the report.
Imparsial called 2004 the year of police brutality, citing as examples violence inflicted on demonstrators protesting against the Supreme Court and residents in Bogor, West Java, protesting against the opening of the Bojongwaste treatment plant.
However, Rachland said it was too early to judge Susilo’s administration based on these cases.
“But since he came up with the 100-day program, it’s fair to say that he’s no different from his predecessor. He should have been able to institute a balance between the public’s right to security and the public’s right toliberty,” he said.
Instead, the state had positioned security above all else in order to maintain its power and stranglehold over the people, Rachland declared.