U.S. House of Representatives
Extension of Remarks
In Opposition to the Certification of IMET for Indonesia
March 9, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the certification of International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia by Secretary Rice. Since 2004, Foreign Operations Appropriations legislation has indicated that the Secretary of State must determine if Indonesia is eligible to receive IMET funds. According to the law, what determines eligibility is the cooperation of the Indonesian government and armed forces with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the August 31, 2002 murders of two American citizens and one Indonesian citizen in Timika, Indonesia. Last year, then-Deputy Secretary of State Armitage defined “cooperation” in the Freeport killings as seeing the case through to “its exhaustion.”
Yet the present Secretary of State has indicated that she has certified IMET for Indonesia, despite the fact that the Indonesian authorities have not “cooperated” by any definition of the term. In July 2004, when U.S. investigators notified Indonesian police that they were willing to return to Indonesia to assist in apprehending the only person thus far indicted by a US grand jury, Anthonius Wamang, it took the Indonesian police well over six months to respond. Furthermore, Indonesian authorities have not indicted or apprehended Wamang or anyone else. For the first six month after the indictment was unsealed in June 2004, Indonesian police did not inform US investigators as to what they were doing in the investigation.
The cooperation or lack thereof of the Indonesian government and armed forces with the FBI investigation is further complicated by the initial Indonesian police report, as well as NGO and media investigations, which pointed to Indonesian military involvement in the attack. Wamang also admitted ties to the notorious Special Forces Kopassus in a video interview broadcast in Australia.
Providing IMET now will remove the key U.S. leverage to assure justice is done in the Timika case, on the eve of the return of the FBI team to Indonesia.
Congress prohibited full IMET for Indonesia for years because of its extremely poor human rights record. Indonesia has yet to fulfill these previous conditions on IMET, and human rights violations, especially in Aceh and West Papua, continue.
Furthermore, there has been no justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 1999 in East Timor. The few Indonesian trials were a whitewash; not one Indonesian officer has been held accountable. Indonesia refuses to extradite anyone, including senior military officers, indicted in a separate and credible UN-East Timor justice process. On top of that, there are increasing reports of militia infiltration into East Timor from Indonesia.
The Indonesian armed forces TNI are massively corrupt and have direct ties to terrorist groups. The TNI engages in drug running, illegal logging, extortion of U.S. and other domestic and foreign firms, and human trafficking, among others. A number of Islamic jihadist militia that have terrorized and killed thousands within Indonesia collaborate with and are even empowered by the TNI. The TNI operates a shadow government extending from the central government down to the village level. It continues to resist subordination to civilian authority and is a threat to democracy in Indonesia.
While the amount of money for IMET may be small, it has tremendous symbolic value. The Indonesian military will view any restoration of IMET as an endorsement of business as usual, not as a reward for extremely limited reforms.
HEARING OF THE SCIENCE, STATE, JUSTICE AND COMMERCE AND RELATED AGENCIES
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
LOCATION: 2359 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
REP. PATRICK KENNEDY (D-RI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Madame Secretary. I’d like to start — I’ve been working for years on trying to get East Timor off on its own, and now it’s an international — its own country internationally. But it’s obviously still a very poor country.
There are major disputes. Most of the oil and gas reserves that exist in the shelf exist much, much closer to East Timor than they do Australia. Of course, Australia insists that they should have access to the oil and gas. There obviously is a huge dispute.
But I was hoping that perhaps you could work to encourage an international, independent mediator to try to resolve this crisis between. And I would ask you to do that and, if you would, get back to me on what direction this is going between Australia and East Timor.
When I’ve been working on the area of East Timor, we obviously work to suspend IMET because of the nature of brutality of the Indonesian government. We’re seeing much of the same reports of abuse in terms of Aceh. And when it comes to the tsunami relief, there is a concern that the dollars, if they kind of go through the traditional authorities, that it might be used to further exploit and dominate the minority populations in Aceh that are currently in conflict with the Indonesian government.
And if you would also get back to me on some of the steps that you plan to take to make sure that the military forces that are running much of the disbursement of foreign assistance in Aceh, that they aren’t using that to continue to subjugate the people, minority groups in Aceh.
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0128
March 10, 2005
Testimony for Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing:
Implications of Recent Indonesia Reform
By Edmund McWilliams, Senior Foreign Service Office (Ret.)
Board of Directors, Indonesia Human Rights Network
The Indonesian Military’s Threat to Human Rights and Democracy
The Annual Human Rights Report regarding Indonesia, recently released by the State Department accurately portrays the Indonesia as a fragile, fledgling democracy whose government is not yet capable of protecting the fundamental human rights of its people. As documented clearly in the State Department’s report, the principal menace to those rights and to that fledgling democratic government itself is a rogue institution with vast wealth and power that has committed crimes against humanity and perhaps genocide and which remains unaccountable.
That institution, the Indonesian military, recently saw its stature dangerously enhanced by a decision of the U.S. administration to end a bipartisan Congressionally imposed sanction against the military, imposed over a decade ago.
The decision, announced by Secretary of State Rice, restored International Military Education and Training (IMET) a
ssistance to the Indonesian military. The Congress banned that assistance in 1992 in response to the military’s murder of 276 peaceful demonstrators in East Timor. The Congress reinforced the ban in 1999 in response to the military’s ravaging of East Timor following the Timorese people’s courageous vote for freedom. In 2004, the Congress narrowed the ban to a single condition. It required that the State Department certify that the Indonesian government and military were cooperating in an FBI investigation of an August 31, 2002 assault on a group of U.S. citizens at the Freeport copper and gold mine in West Papua that saw two U.S. citizens killed and eight wounded.
Dr. Rice’s February 26 certification that the Indonesians were cooperating manifestly misrepresents the obstructions and malign inaction of the Indonesian side with regards to that investigation. Contrary to the State Department’s contention that the Indonesian side is “cooperating,” the Indonesians have failed to bring charges against or even detain the one individual indicted by a U.S. grand jury in the attack. Moreover, for over eight months it has stalled a return of the FBI team to Indonesia to continue its investigation.
This Indonesian obstruction of the FBI investigation is possibly explained by indications that the Indonesian military itself was involved in the attack. The initial Indonesian police report, as well as reports by independent researchers, journalists and others, all point to military involvement. Recently, evidence of ties between the one indicted individual and the military was provided to the FBI and the State Department. Moreover, the military’s presentation of false evidence and subsequent military threats and intimidation targeting those Indonesian human rights advocates who had assisted the FBI also suggest the military’s culpability.
Ms. Patsy Spier who was wounded and widowed in the attack has asked me to share with you her concern about the importance of genuine Indonesian cooperation in the investigation:
“The investigation into the Timika Ambush, a terror attack, is completely in Americans interest. Two American citizens who were working in Indonesia for an American company were murdered on a secure road. The ambush lasted from 35 to 45 minutes before help came. The eight Americans wounded were American citizens working in Indonesia (the eighth American being a 6 year old girl). The investigation, and cooperation needed, is in Americans interest to assure the safety of the other thousands of Americans working and living in Indonesia. The Indonesian authorities must cooperate fully with our US investigators. American companies working, and thinking of working, in Indonesia must be assured that the murder of Americans is taken seriously by the Indonesian Government…and cooperating with our investigators would show that.”
In addition to being indefensible on the basis of the “cooperation” criterion established by the Congress, the decision was also a practical blunder. Restoration of IMET assistance removes the only leverage available to the U.S. to press for the genuine Indonesian cooperation essential to a successful completion of the FBI’s investigation. On the basis of this erroneous certification alone, the Congress should restore the ban on IMET in FY2006. It is also imperative that the Congress maintain the ban on FMF for the Indonesian military which remains in place despite the restoration of IMET.
But there are broader issues in play than even the critical matter of ensuring justice in this case of murdered and wounded U.S. citizens.
The restoration of IMET dangerously conveys to the Indonesian military that long-standing U.S. concerns about its notorious and continuing human rights abuses, its threats to its neighbors, illegal business empire and its impunity in committing these acts is no longer on the U.S. agenda. Such a U.S. exoneration of the Indonesian military removes a well-founded international censure that has given Indonesian government and civil society members the political space to press for reform of that notorious institution. It is not surprising that leading Indonesian human rights activists reacted with dismay to the U.S. action.
The notorious record of the Indonesian military is well documented by reliable reporting of well-respected human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Tapol as well as in the State Department’s Annual Human Rights Reports. Therefore, I will only summarize that record here and then focus the rest of my remarks on the current activity of the Indonesian military, specifically its ongoing abuse of human rights, its involvement in a broad range of criminal enterprises, its contempt for and threat to democratic institutions and its unaccountability.
In 1965-68 the Indonesian military engineered the slaughter of more than a half million Indonesians whom it alleged had been involved in a “coup” against the sitting President Soekarno. Employing a tactic it would resort to again in the current period, the Indonesian military allied itself with Islamic forces that did much of the actual killing. The Soeharto regime which rose to power as a consequence of the coup and which directed the massive killings sought to justify them in U.S. and western eyes by labeling the victims as “communists.”
Following the Indonesian military’s invasion of East Timor in 1975, an estimated 200,000 East Timorese, one quarter of the population, died as a consequence of living conditions in TNI-organized re-location camps or as direct victims of Indonesian security force violence.
In West Papua, it is estimated that over 100,000 Papuans died in the years following the forced annexation of West Papua under a fraudulent “Act of Free Choice,” perpetrated by the Soeharto regime in 1969. An April 2004 study by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at the Yale Law School concluded that the atrocities in West Papua are “crimes against humanity” and may constitute genocide.
In Aceh, over 12,000 civilians have fallen victim to military operations that have included mass sweeps and forced relocations. These operations, almost constantly since the late 1970’s, have entailed brutal treatment of civilians including extra judicial killings, rape, torture and beatings. While the military’s quarry in these attacks, the pro-independence Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or GAM has also been responsible for human rights abuses, the State Department’s Annual Human Rights reports have consistently reported that most of those civilians died at the hands of the military.
Throughout this period, extending from 1965 to the early 1990’s the U.S. military maintained a close relationship with the Indonesian military, providing training for thousands of officers as well as arms. From the late 1970’s to 1992, that training included grant assistance under IMET. The arms provided by the U.S. were employed by the Indonesian military not against foreign foes (the Indonesian military has never confronted a foreign foe except for brief clashes with the Dutch in West Papua) but rather against their own people. In the 70’s and 80’s, U.S.- provided OV-10 Broncos bombed villages in East Timor and in West Papua. Military offensives conceived and directed by IMET-trained officers against usually miniscule resistance caused thousands of civilian deaths.
Even with the end of the cold war, the U.S. embrace of the dictator Soeharto and his military continued as if U.S. policy were on auto pilot. That relationship endured largely unquestioned until 1991 when the Indonesian military was caught on film by U.S. journalists slaughtering peaceful East Timorese demonstrators. The murder of over 270 East Timorese youth by Indonesian soldiers bearing U.S.-provided M-16’s so shocked the U.S. Congress that in 1992 it
imposed tight restrictions on further U.S. military-to-military aid, including training for the Indonesian military.
Since the imposition of those restrictions various U.S. Administrations, with the support of non-governmental organizations bankrolled by U.S. corporations with major interests in Indonesia have sought to expand military to military ties. Those efforts were accompanied by claims that the Indonesian military had reformed or was on a reform course.
Claims of Indonesian military reform were confounded in 1999, when, following an overwhelming vote by East Timorese for independence from Indonesia, the Indonesian military and its militia proxies devastated the tiny half island. U.N. and other international observers were unable to prevent the killing of over 1,500 East Timorese, the forced relocation of over 250,000 and the destruction of over 70 percent of East Timor’s infrastructure. The Indonesian justice system has failed to hold a single military, police or civil official responsible for the mayhem. That failure to render justice demonstrated that even when confronted by unanimous international condemnation, the Indonesian military remained unaccountable.
Moreover, TNI abuse of human rights is not a matter only of history. Indonesian military operations that began in mid-2004 in West Papua continue. Burning villages and destroying food sources, the Indonesian military has forced thousands of villagers into the forests where many are dying for lack of food and medicine. A government ban on travel to the region by journalists and even West Papuan senior church leaders has limited international awareness of this tragedy. More critically, the ban has prevented Papuan church leaders and others from distributing humanitarian relief to the thousands forced into the forests. A similar campaign in West Papua in the late 1990s led to the death of hundreds of civilians who did not survive their forced sojourn in the deep jungles of West Papua.
The recent devastating Indian Ocean tsunami turned international attention to Aceh, another primary arena in which the Indonesian military continues a brutal military campaign. Notwithstanding calls by President Yudhoyono for a ceasefire and declaration by GAM of unilateral ceasefire the Indonesian military has continued to conduct operations. These operations jeopardize relief operations and will likely stall rehabilitation and reconstruction. Both GAM and the Government appear to be genuinely pursuing a settlement through talks organized by former Finish President Martti Atahisaari. But as the former Finnish President has emphasized, to be successful, both sides must act with restraint in the field. With boasts that it has killed over 230 GAM members since the tsunami struck, the TNI clearly is not acting with restraint.
Throughout the Soeharto period (1965-1998) critics and dissenters generally were not tolerated. Despite the genuine democratic progress made since the fall of the Soeharto dictatorships, critics of the military and those whom the Indonesian military regard as enemies are in grave jeopardy. Reflecting the Indonesian military’s power in “democratic” Indonesia, those critics who meet untimely ends are often the most prominent. Indonesia’s leading human rights advocate, Munir, a prominent critic of the Indonesian military died of arsenic poisoning in 2004. An independent investigation authorized by the Indonesian President has uncovered evidence of Government involvement in this murder. In recent years Jafar Siddiq, a U.S. green card holder who was in Aceh demanding justice for Achenese suffering military abuse was himself tortured and murdered. Theys Eluay, the leading nonviolent Papuan proponent of Papuan self-determination was abducted and strangled to death. In a rare trial of military officials, his Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) killers received sentences ranging up to three and one half years. Yet Army Chief of Staff, Ryamazad Ryacudu publicly described the murderers as “heroes.” Farid Faquih, a leading anti-corruption campaigner who has targeted military and other government malfeasance recently was badly beaten in Aceh by military officers as he sought to monitor tsunami aid distribution. He was arrested and is now facing charges of theft of the assistance he was monitoring. Papuan human rights advocates who supported FBI investigations of the U.S. citizens murdered in 2002 in West Papua are under continuing intimidation by the military and were sued by the regional military commander.
More generally, the Indonesian military poses a threat to the fledgling democratic experiment in Indonesia. It receives over 70 percent of its budget from legal and illegal businesses and as a result is not under direct budget control by the civilian president or the parliament. Its vast wealth derives from numerous activities, including many illegal ones that include extortion, prostitution rings, drug running, illegal logging and other exploitation of Indonesia’s great natural resources, and as charged in a recent Voice of Australia broadcast (August 2, 2004), human trafficking. With its great institutional wealth it maintains a bureaucratic structure that functions as a shadow government paralleling the civil administration structure from the central level down to sub-district and even village level.
There are also reasons why many of us should be directly concerned about the TNI’s lawlessness. As investors – through our pension and mutual funds – our hard-earned wealth is invested with U.S.-based corporations: ExxonMobil and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc., among others – that are subject to extortion of “protection money” from the TNI for their Indonesian operations. Recognizing the reputational risks and potential and actual shareholder liabilities resulting from these financial relationships between U.S. companies and the TNI, institutional investors including all of New York City’s employee pension funds have brought shareholder resolutions this year calling on Freeport and ExxonMobil management to review and report to shareholders about the risks associated with corporate ties to the TNI. In short, investors should be concerned, too, about the TNI’s human rights record and the implications for the bottom line.
For much of the last decade, advocates of closer ties between the Indonesian military and the U.S. military have contended that a warmer U.S. embrace entailing training programs and education courses for TNI officers could expose them to democratic ideals and afford a professional military perspective. This argument ignores the decades of close U.S. – Indonesian military ties extending from the 1960’s to the early 1990’s when U.S. training was provided to over 8,000 Indonesian military officers. This 30-year period also encompasses the period when the Indonesian military committed some of its gravest atrocities and when a culture of impunity became ingrained.
The argument for reform through engagement also ignores the fact that the U.S. Defense Department already maintains extensive ties and channels for assistance under the guise of “conferences” and joint operations billed as humanitarian or security-related.
In the wake of 9/11, proponents of restored U.S.-Indonesian military ties have also argued that the U.S. needs the Indonesian military as a partner in the war on terrorism. This argument overlooks the Indonesian military’s close ties to and support for domestic fundamentalist Islamic terror groups, including the Laskar Mujahidin and Front for the Defense of Islam. The Laskar Jihad militia, which the Indonesian military helped form and train, engaged in a savage communal war in the Maluku Islands in the years 2000 to 2002 that left thousands dead. Many thousands
more died in Central Sulawesi in the same period, in fighting that involved militias with security force ties.
Absent tangible evidence of Indonesian military action to curb abuses, to allow itself to be held accountable, to end corruption, to submit itself to civilian rule and to end its sponsorship of terrorist militias, the Indonesian military should be seen for what it is: a rogue institution that directly threatens democracy in Indonesia. Existing restrictions on military-to-military ties between the United States and Indonesia must remain in place, conditionality should be strengthened and the IMET ban reinstated in FY 2006.
Finally, a word about the future. The Indonesian people, Indonesian non-governmental organizations, the Indonesian media and individual Indonesians have demonstrated great courage in standing up to the intimidation of entrenched corrupt interests in their society and most especially its security forces to demand their right to live in a democratic society. The brave students who rallied in the streets in 1998 wrought a revolution, though since that historic victory, entrenched undemocratic elements have sought to undo reforms. Sadly, in some parts of Indonesia the 1998 reforms have had little meaning. The military, often employing terrorist militias, have most brutally repressed the popular struggle for reform in Aceh, West Papua and the Maluku Islands. It is vital that the central government engage civil society in these areas in peaceful dialogue and, in order to make such a dialogue viable, demilitarize those areas.
The U.S. should encourage reform and peaceful dialogue where it can. It should encourage the Government to enforce worker rights, to make far more serious efforts and to end injurious exploitation of child labor and human trafficking. The U.S. should encourage the Indonesian Government to pass legislation implementing the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The U.S. should also urge an end to intimidation of journalists through physical threat and intimidation through misuse of the courts. Moreover, the U.S. Government should itself recognize the importance of social, economic and cultural rights and encourage the Government of Indonesia to pursue development strategies that address the urgent health, education and shelter needs of the poor.
But direct U.S. involvement in Indonesian affairs would be unwelcome and most likely ineffective. Critical questions such as the role of Islam in modern Indonesia and the shape and character of its economy are for Indonesians to decide. The most pro-active course for the U.S. at this time is to step back from its growing embrace of the Indonesian military that remains the gravest threat to democracy and human rights throughout the archipelago.
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0128
Statement for Hearing on
“Indonesia in Transition: Recent Developments
And Implications for U.S. Policy”
Ambassador Marie T. Huhtala
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
U.S. House of Representatives
Thursday, March 10, 2005
I am happy to appear before you to address one of the most exciting and important developments taking place in Southeast Asia today, and indeed, in the world at large. The democratic transition under way in Indonesia, the largest majority Muslim country in the world and now the third largest democracy, represents an important opportunity for U.S. interests and for the people of Indonesia. How we approach our relations at this critical moment will have far-reaching effects on our long-term objectives, not only in Indonesia but also throughout the region.
The successful series of democratic elections in Indonesia last year produced a sea change in its domestic politics. The voters brought into office a new, directly elected President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who understands the United States and who ran on a reform agenda. As a U.S. university and military college graduate, he has first-hand knowledge of the U.S. and its people. The tragic earthquake and tsunami of December 26, 2004, and the joint Indonesian-American response have made a deep impression on the Indonesian government and people, as they have on Americans. In Indonesia, the television coverage of American military, diplomats and aid workers efficiently providing massive amounts of much-needed humanitarian assistance from the air, the sea and on the ground to devastated corners of Aceh made a powerful impression. Those images showed once again that Indonesia has no better friend than the United States. We are there when it counts.
Mr. Chairman, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has a genuine mandate from the Indonesian people. He won 60 percent of the votes in the presidential run-off in September of last year, an amazing feat by a challenger with only a small political party behind him running against an incumbent with a large political machine. More than 75 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. To put those numbers in context, just as many Indonesians voted in their presidential election as did Americans last fall–about 118 million in each case. That demonstrates the very strong commitment of Indonesians to democracy.
Our two countries have a great deal in common. The United States is the world’s third largest country, and the second largest democracy after India. Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest country, and its third largest democracy. The majority of the people of the United States call themselves Christians, but, of course, there are many other religions represented here and we have a history of tolerance of all faiths. The majority of the people in Indonesia call themselves Muslims, but there are many other religions represented there too, and Indonesians place a high value on the diversity of their country. Indonesia’s national motto, “Bhineka Tunggal Eka,” (“Unity in Diversity”) is roughly equivalent to “E Pluribus Unum” (“Out of the Many, One”). There is another, grimmer parallel. The United States has suffered terrible terrorist attacks in recent years that killed Americans and foreigners alike, and Indonesia too has suffered terrorist attacks that killed Indonesians and foreigners. Our two countries thus share an interest in addressing the causes of terrorism and protecting our people from further terrorist violence.
Within a generation Indonesia will overtake the United States in population, making Indonesia the third most populous country in the world. The United States has an interest in ensuring that Indonesia succeeds as a democratic power, one that acts as a positive force on the global stage and ensures prosperity for its people at home.
The Indonesian presidential election late last year was only the latest in a number of important institutional changes since 1998, when President Suharto lost power. The direct presidential election itself was a product of sweeping constitutional reforms aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, accountability and transparency, and separation of powers. Other notable reforms have included the establishment of a police force separate from the military (TNI), the end of the military’s appointed seats in parliament, and the passage of legislation in 2004 to ensure that the parliament begins to exert control over the military’s budget process — currently a highly opaque one. A free press and an increasingly active civil society have become important agents of change. People are debating the abuses and excesses of the Suharto years and are demanding
real accountability for what happened. Citizens are demanding justice from the judicial sector. Finally, the country is going through one of the most ambitious decentralizations efforts ever. That process is empowering Indonesia’s far-flung 33 provinces and 421 districts, spread over 17,000 islands and introducing unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability into local governance.
All these changes represent rather substantial forward progress for a country that many in 1998 predicted would fall into chaos. How could such a vast, multi-ethnic nation with little history of popular rule transform itself? Most observers were betting against Indonesia in those days. But Indonesia not only has survived, it has thrived, conducting not just one but three peaceful presidential transitions in a row. By any measure, the people of Indonesia have shown that they are ready for democracy. Without any doubt, they deserve recognition and support from the world’s second largest democracy, the United States, and the rest of the international community. Since the late 1990s, the U.S. has indeed been a strong supporter of Indonesia’s democratic transition, and we will continue to support it.
It is perhaps ironic, and certainly a sad coincidence, that the tragic tsunami of December 26, 2004, occurred just as the new Yudhoyono Government was finding its feet, not even 100 days into the new administration. As the members of this Committee are well aware, the U.S. response to the disaster was immediate and substantial, thanks in large part to the support of the Congress for making sure that our diplomats, relief professionals, and the U.S. military are adequately funded.
Also significant is the high degree of close cooperation we experienced with President Yudhoyono’s government. This dramatic example of bilateral cooperation was not lost on anyone in the world with access to television or a newspaper. Once Indonesian authorities recognized the extent of the death and destruction in Aceh, they immediately asked for international help. The Indonesian Government welcomed the assistance of the United States, the United Nations, and other countries, and opened the tsunami-affected parts of Aceh province to foreign militaries, aid workers and NGOs. Indonesians and Americans worked side-by-side to rescue victims and deliver food, water and medicine. The Indonesian military, contrary to the assumptions of many in the international media, did not attempt systematically to siphon off aid, prevent relief workers from reaching tsunami victims, or impose onerous restrictions on them. The situation on the ground was not perfect — it was confusing and difficult, to say the least — and there were isolated instances of problems between soldiers and assistance workers. The military did require visiting NGOs to register their presence, which was not unreasonable given the real security concerns in Aceh. On the whole, however, our Embassy in Indonesia, including the AID mission, and most NGOs who participated in the relief work have reported that the Indonesian military performed admirably given the extreme challenges presented by the emergency.
As President Bush has stated, the success of Indonesia as a pluralistic and democratic state is essential to the peace and prosperity of the Southeast Asian region. Indonesia is truly a front-line state in a trend we see all over the world: people want to rule themselves, and they want their governments to be accountable. We see Indonesia as advancing what President Bush has called the “agenda of freedom.” In that context, we want to do everything we can to see Indonesia succeed and have our relationship develop to its full potential. Let me address the most important areas we will be emphasizing.
Our first priority is to encourage continued Indonesian progress on democracy, human rights, and justice. We envision an Indonesia that is democratic in the full sense of that term, a government that is transparent and accountable to its people, respects the rule of law, and protects the human rights of its citizens. As our 2004 Human Rights Report indicates, Indonesia’s human rights record remains mixed, and there is much to be done, particularity in the area of accountability for abuses committed by members of the security services.
That said, there has been progress, including an increased willingness among the Indonesian army to hold their own service members accountable for human rights violations. We have been impressed by President Yudhoyono’s frequent statements regarding the importance of democracy and accountability. Late last year, in an address by videoconference to the U.S. Chambers of Commerce, he said he is driven by “the hopes of the Indonesians who entrusted me to improve their lives.” He spoke of the power of good governance and said he is establishing a team that would be judged by its performance. He said he wanted to establish a system that was accountable to the people and, looking ahead, he wanted to “ensure smooth elections in 2009.”
In 2004 alone, the United States provided monetary and technical assistance totaling $25 million to Indonesia’s electoral process. We also are also engaged in a range of programs to build capacity in the judicial sector, combat corruption, strengthen civil society, and help with effective decentralized governance. Our programs include training for police, local government and judicial officials, internships for journalists, and special visitor exchange programs focusing on conflict resolution, human rights, and rule of law.
One of the best ways to solidify democratic principles and practices, of course, is through educational opportunity. The U.S. is engaged in a 6-year, $157 million initiative to strengthen the education sector in Indonesia. By providing support to Indonesian teachers and students, we hope to promote tolerance, counter extremism, and help provide critical thinking skills so necessary in the modern world. These programs will strengthen the management of schools, improve the quality of teaching, and increase the relevance of education to work and life skills for Indonesia’s youth, the next generation of leaders.
A second very important element of our policy is enhanced cooperation on security issues. Indonesians know better than most the devastating effects of terrorist attacks, such as those that have occurred in Bali and Jakarta over the last three years. We applaud the Indonesian Government’s serious response to those attacks. Indonesia’s police and prosecutors have arrested and convicted more than 130 terrorists since the Bali bombings. Indonesia has established an effective counterterrorism police force, which is working hard to bring terrorists to justice. Nevertheless, the threat of future attacks remains grave.
The short sentence (30 months) recently handed down against terrorist mastermind Abu Bakar Baasyir was disappointing and also shows that much work needs to be done in strengthening the judicial sector, including coordinating the efforts of police and prosecutors, and educating judges regarding the threat of terrorism. We welcome President Yudhoyono’s announcements that arresting key terrorists is a priority and that he seeks to enhance international cooperation on terrorism.
We want to see an Indonesia that is open for investment and trade, and open to American investors playing a prominent role in the country’s economic development. When President Yudhoyono spoke to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he spoke movingly of his determination to slash unemployment and poverty. These are worthy goals that deserve American support. In addition to providing aid aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, the U.S. is making a major effort to help Indonesia relieve poverty and embark on sound economic development. In August 2004, the U.S. Embassy signed an agre
ement with the government of Indonesia for a 5-year program that will provide a total of $468 million for basic education, water, nutrition, and the environment.
Although aid is an effective tool for economic development, there is always more money available from trade and investment than from aid. Moreover, trade and investment tend to be self-perpetuating.
At present, more than 300 U.S. companies have investments in Indonesia totaling more than $7.5 billion, and an estimated 3,500 U.S. business people work in Indonesia. Much of that investment is connected to Indonesia’s rich natural resources, but there is some manufacturing as well. But while many companies have invested in Indonesia, many others are reluctant because of concerns over rule of law and corruption in the judiciary. They want respect for the sanctity of contracts, a transparent, non-discriminatory tax system, and most of all they want to do business in a climate free of corruption.
President Yudhoyono has said that attacking corruption and establishing legal certainty are key priorities for his government. We welcome those statements, and hope to assist in improving the investment climate and legal system. These issues have taken on even more urgency following the tsunami, because the international donor community expects that all funds given for the purpose of reconstruction must be closely monitored and carefully accounted for. To that end, the World Bank has created a trust fund that will include fiscal controls on the disbursal of donor funds.
On the trade side, bilateral cooperation picked up in 1996, when the U.S. and Indonesia signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. That framework provides a formal basis for our discussions of detailed trade issues, and those discussions will continue this month in Jakarta. Indonesia has recently taken important steps to uphold intellectual property rights; the U.S. business community will be watching to see how those rules are enforced.
Finally, we are very interested in seeing Indonesia act as a stabilizing and responsible force in the region. Indeed, the United States has always viewed Indonesia as a pillar of regional security in Southeast Asia. In the past, Indonesia played a significant leadership role in regional institutions such as ASEAN and APEC. We look forward to seeing Jakarta reassert this prominent position in international fora and institutions. Our two countries share the important strategic objective of a stable Southeast Asian region that is free of transnational threats, including terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, smuggling, and trafficking in persons. American interests are best served by a democratic, prosperous Indonesia that respects and protects the rights of its citizens, is secure within its borders and is able to defend itself against transnational threats. For that reason, we firmly support the territorial integrity of Indonesia.
Indonesia needs to be strong in order to manage successfully the many challenges of this age. Maritime security is one of the more important challenges it faces. The strategic sea lanes that pass through and along Indonesian territory carry roughly 30 percent of the world’s sea-borne trade and are key transit routes for the U.S. naval fleet. Half the world’s oil passes through the Malacca Strait. Indonesia’s vast archipelago is difficult to monitor. We stand ready to assist Indonesia to address this important challenge in ways that we will decide on jointly, and we already have begun the effort to encourage the growing cooperation between Indonesia and its neighbors in this important field.
As the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has a key role to play in demonstrating the virtues of tolerance and mutual respect in a diverse, multi-ethnic polity. The ability of so many Muslims to thrive economically and pursue a democratic, just agenda respectful of other faiths serves as a powerful reminder of what a successful, tolerant society can look like. We will continue to provide exchange and training programs that promote interfaith dialogue. Our active and creative public diplomacy program for Indonesia is one of the most robust in the world today.
As elsewhere in the world, the United States must address the range of our interests with Indonesia in an integrated way. Even as we champion a strong and democratic Indonesia secure within its borders, we also support negotiated settlements to the conflicts in Aceh and Papua. With respect to Aceh, the terrible tsunami tragedy has left one consolation — the seeds of hope. Given the new developments in play, we see the possibility that this long-running conflict can be solved peacefully through negotiations that are now ongoing. We think President Yudhoyono, who has worked toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict for many years, seriously and sincerely wants to end the conflict so that the people of Aceh can recover and rebuild their communities in an environment free of violence. We hope that his administration will succeed in championing a real reconciliation in Aceh.
The tsunami disaster also demonstrated that the opening of Aceh to the international community could be a source of positive change. We will work with Jakarta to ensure continued free access by humanitarian groups, human rights workers, and the media. We also believe that to realize their democratic vision Indonesians will have to find the appropriate ways to further strengthen civilian control over the military and hold individuals accountable for human rights abuses. Again, improving the judicial process, eliminating corruption, and establishing solid professional standards will go a long way toward addressing these issues.
We continue to seek justice for the Americans murdered in Timika in August 2002, an issue we view with urgency. We appreciate the cooperation our FBI has received so far in its investigation, but there is much more to be done. Secretary Rice recognized this in her recent certification of Indonesian cooperation for the purpose of reinstating International Military Education and Training (IMET). We will work with the Indonesian authorities to move quickly to bring those responsible for this crime to justice.
These same principles hold true with regard to accountability for the crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999. We encourage the Indonesian Government to cooperate with the UN Commission of Experts, which is in the process of reviewing the state of play on this issue in Dili and Jakarta. Meanwhile, the governments of Indonesia and East Timor have just announced details of a proposed bilateral truth and friendship commission. We urge Jakarta and Dili to respond positively to UN SYG Kofi Annan’s initiative to have the Commission of Experts work with and advise the bilateral truth and friendship commission. With goodwill the parties will be able to achieve internationally credible accountability, put the terrible events of 1999 behind them, and proceed with their evolving good relationship.
We are hopeful that the day will come when the U.S. and Indonesia will be able to enjoy fully restored relations between our respective militaries. Secretary Rice’s recent decision to certify International Military Education and Training will, we believe, result in increased professionalism of Indonesian military officers with respect to transparency, human rights, and public accountability. We also think that, under the proper conditions, U.S. assistance in the form of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) would be in the interests of both countries. However, FMF cannot be considered until and unless the concerns of Congress as laid out in Section 572 of the Appropriations Act of 2005 are addressed. That law requires accountability for the events of 1999 in East Timor as we
ll as progress on military reform issues. We look forward to consulting with interested members of the Congress on how we might help Indonesia reach these goals.
Let me conclude by emphasizing how much we all look forward to working with Indonesia as it faces this exciting, challenging new chapter in its history. Although many issues and problems will have to be resolved, we have a better opportunity now than at any time in the recent past to help strengthen democracy and respect for human rights, and contribute to the stability and prosperity of an important strategic partner. The United States considers Indonesia a valued friend, and we hope to make that friendship with this, the largest democracy in East Asia, even stronger in the years ahead.
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0128
Statement for Hearing on
“Indonesia in Transition: Recent Developments
And Implications for U.S. Policy”
Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
U.S. House of Representatives
Thursday, March 10, 2005
“Opportunities for United States Relations with Indonesia”
Alphonse F. La Porta
President, United States-Indonesia Society
Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the Committee, I welcome the opportunity to appear before this committee today to discuss United States relations with Indonesia – a country which you, Mr. Chairman, aptly observed is the “single largest country in the world where the U.S. remains only tangentially involved.”
My remarks today are my own and are based on over 38 years of diplomatic experience in the U.S. Foreign Service and close involvement with Indonesia. They do not necessarily reflect those of USINDO and its Board of Trustees.
Mr. Chairman, we have a tremendous opportunity before us to strengthen our relationship with Indonesia and to support Indonesia in its journey of democracy. With the recent free and open election of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last September, and a new determination among the Indonesian government and people to pursue fundamental democratic reforms, we can truly say that Indonesia is a nation striving for democracy. Furthermore, the tragic earthquake and devastating tsunami of December 26, 2004 has provided both the United States and Indonesia with a new opportunity for positive cooperation. It is essential that the United States take advantage of these opportunities so that we can support Indonesia in its efforts at democratization and pursue our mutual interests.
I need not remind this committee of the important role that Indonesia can play in our world at this time. It is not only the largest democratic nation in the world with a predominantly Muslim population. But as an Asian nation Indonesia is a vital partner for the United States in a new century where an expanding Asia indisputably has a main economic and political role.
Today I would like to share with you some views on Indonesia’s recent efforts at democratization and in the process discuss how the United States can further support Indonesia by offering some specific policy recommendations in four key areas:
- Strengthen Indonesia’s political system and regard for human values through legislative and executive cooperation;
- Assist tsunami reconstruction in northern Sumatra, following on the crucial assistance provided by the United States in the immediate relief phase;
- Expand United States-Indonesian cooperation in education; and
- Upgrade defense cooperation to achieve real gains in Indonesian military professionalism and capabilities, together with strengthening civilian control.
Indonesia is a Nation Striving for Democracy
Mr. Chairman, the Indonesian government and people have demonstrated that they are now a nation truly striving for democracy. In the past few years, Indonesia has held three free and open political elections, has put an end to dwifungsi or “dual function,” signifying the end of direct involvement of the military in politics and society, has increased the freedom of the media and press, has created a stable macro-economic environment, and has demonstrated progress in implementing the rule of the law.
It is especially significant that the armed forces and police did not involve themselves in the three elections held in 2004, except for a very few minor localized instances. As I observed as a member of the Carter Center’s delegation for the first round presidential election last July, grassroots democracy is prospering and accountability will be further enhanced by the first-ever popular election of provincial and local officials beginning this year.
Indonesia’s democratic experience since the fall of Soeharto and the first free elections in 1999 clearly show that Indonesia is not only on the road to democracy, but that democracy and Islam can exist side by side. Indonesia exemplifies to the world how Islam can play a positive and healthy role in a society. Within Indonesia, as well as elsewhere in Southeast Asia, there exists vigorous discussion over the nature of how Islam should be practiced. Indonesians think critically about Islam and the role of religion in their lives. The positive role it has played in Indonesian society, with its strong and unique culture, far outweighs the negative consequences generated by fringe groups of the Muslim body politic.
The United States has already played a significant role in contributing to Indonesia’s progress both as a democratic nation and progressive Muslim nation. Most welcome is the continuing support that USAID is providing for the direct election of provincial and local officials beginning this year and continuing assistance to develop local government capabilities and political party effectiveness. On the national level, maintaining U.S. assistance to the Parliament (DPR), civil society organizations, and pushing forward on judicial reform and other measures to promote the Rule of Law are likewise to be applauded.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to underscore that U.S. assistance in tsunami relief has been exemplary and a strong determinant in generating support among the Indonesian people for improved ties with the United States. Indeed, there may already be a turning of the tide of public opinion as shown in a poll sponsored by a U.S. non-governmental organization, Terror Free Tomorrow, which was conducted by the authoritative Indonesian Survey Institute (Lembaga Survei Indonesia). The results, released only last Friday, March 4, indicate that the role of the U.S. armed forces in tsunami relief was viewed positively by 65% of the 1,200 poll respondents. Moreover, the poll showed that appreciation of U.S. counter-terrorist actions has increased and regard for Osama bin Laden has dropped to less than half of former levels. It is important to note however, that while this poll found overall U.S. popularity increased from 15% in 2003 to almost 34%, we still have a long way to go in establishing an overall positive opinion of the United States.
I would like now to suggest how the United States can enlarge its support of democracy in Indonesia and Indonesia’s role as a progressive Muslim-majority society by implementing policies in four key areas: legislative and executive level exchanges; continuing to assist in tsunami recovery and reconstruction; assistance to higher education; and defense cooperation.
1. Continuing to Strengthen Indonesia’s Democratic Political System
Mr. Chairman, the United States can continue to strengthen Indonesian democratization through interactions on the executive and parliamentary levels. High level dialogue not only fosters increased understanding of democracy and its global benefits, but also increases the political will and enthusiasm of elected Indonesian officials for sound democratic practices.
As you may know, last week a delegation of Indonesian parliamentarians, members of the People’s Consultative Assembly or DPR, visited Washington and had a wide range of meetings with Members of Congress. Dialogues and exchanges such as this lead to knowledge-sharing in key areas such as foreign affairs and defense, a transfer of skills in budgeting, legislative drafting and research, and the promotion of sound oversight practices. It is important that the United States continue to promote interaction through Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) mechanisms and through Indonesian participation in the new congressional Democracy Assistance Initiative. The United States Congress should also send a strong delegation to the Asian Parliamentary Union (APU) meeting to be held in Indonesia in January 2006.
The continued advancement of democracy in Indonesia depends on establishing a closer pattern of relations and mutual understanding with the Yudhoyono government. Recent visits of high administration officials and Members of Congress have been instrumental in identifying areas of common concern, and these contacts have a beneficial public impact. Consideration also should be given to establishing a high level continuing Leadership Dialogue, comprising the public sector, business and industry, academia, the media and civil society representatives, similar to the bilateral dialogues with China, Australia and others in the Asia region.
2. Earthquake and Tsunami Reconstruction
Mr. Chairman, the terrible disaster that struck northern Sumatra on December 26, 2004 has drawn an unprecedented response from the American people and around the world. The Yudhoyono government is grappling with the enormous task of reconstruction planning, the management of millions, indeed billions, of dollars in external assistance, and establishing the processes to guide the rebuilding effort. Based on my visit to Indonesia two weeks ago, reports from USINDO colleagues who have visited Aceh and other information available to us, we hope that our government will collaborate closely with and support the Yudhoyono government in the following five areas to help ensure success in the reconstruction:
- Listen to the people to ensure that reconstruction projects, planning for new human settlements and economic recovery have a sound popular basis;
- Energetically pursue efforts to achieve a political settlement of the long-festering insurgency, but also change the model. In addition to political talks with the expatriate leaders of the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or GAM), there should also be a wide consultative process involving local leaders and the people’s elected representatives in the regional assembly and the national Parliament. A new consensus should be found to implement the special autonomy law in order to fulfill Aceh’s potential within a united Indonesia;
- Ensure that there is effective accountability and transparency in the use of external assistance flows; the United States can make special expertise available to ensure that maximum possible financial integrity is maintained and institutions are strengthened against corruption. The millions of Americans who have contributed to this northern Sumatra relief and reconstruction effort demand no less.
- Enlist the help of the Indonesian and foreign private sectors by establishing a “one-stop shop” for project approvals to rebuild schools and other public facilities, restore economic livelihoods and promote dignity and self-reliance. The projected U.S. “private sector summit,” now envisaged for May will be an important step in ensuring public and business support for long term reconstruction needs. USINDO is cooperating with the Asia Society, the Asia Foundation, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in this private sector initiative.
- Keep Aceh open to bona fide organizations, experts and visitors assisting in reconstruction. International media coverage is also important to tell the story of Aceh reconstruction to the world, among other things to engender long term support. Although exercising prudence regarding personal security is necessary in certain areas, the people of Aceh will benefit from working closely with foreign donors in ways that will open up new choices other than siding with the GAM rebels.
Mr. Chairman, based on my experience as principal officer of the U.S. Consulate in Medan in the late 1970’s, the people of Aceh and neighboring areas are resourceful, direct and action-oriented. Aceh’s human resources should be mobilized through community development, civil society organizations and open-handedness to create a new society in the stricken areas and to strengthen the integration of reconstructed communities into the regional economy and infrastructure of northern Sumatra as a whole.
Indeed, there is already good news. A USINDO colleague who is developing our Aceh school reconstruction project visited the devastated west coast of Aceh last week. On the ruins of the flattened town of Calang, Indonesian Marines were establishing schools for orphaned and homeless children and were helping local citizens to construct temporary housing. Signs of new growth, both physical and psychological, are beginning to emerge and the always resourceful Acehnese are developing their own plans for reconstituting their communities.
I would submit that opportunities also should be found, through the wise use of external assistance, to upgrade priority national sectors, particularly tertiary education, Islamic schools and universities, and secondary schools so that no region is left behind. Creating a “gold standard” for only the hardest-hit disaster areas will not contribute in my view to national solidarity or democracy building.
3. Education, Education, Education
USINDO Co-Chair Edward Masters testified before this committee a year ago about the importance of human resource development to strengthen United States-Indonesian relations. As recommended in the National Commission report 18 months ago, there is a pressing need to expand cooperation between educational institutions of our two countries as existed in the 1970’s and 1980’s when U.S. assistance programs were better funded and centered on a web of university-level collaborations. Reductions in U.S. development assistance, public diplomacy and other programs in the 1990’s have taken a serious toll.
President Bush’s initiative to channel US$157 million into mainly basic education over the next six years is an excellent start, but U.S. educational assistance should be increased to focus especially on developing university centers of excellence to increase the numbers of Ph.D.’s, vastly upgrading tertiary-level teacher training, and enhancing English language and other academic skills. Attention should also be given to encourage the development of first-class academic research capabilities and enlarging the flow of students to the United States (presently less than 9000 Indonesians are in American colleges and universities in contrast to 60,000 Chinese and 80,000 Indians). Finally, it is important that the United States continue to assist mainstream Islamic schools, universities and civil society organizations in a balanced and non-intrusive way.
Mr. Chairman, USINDO has been very active during the p
ast year to promote university-to-university partnerships, the development of which will be pursued further in a conference in Jakarta on March 17-18, 2005. The United States should provide additional assistance to Indonesian higher education, and it is hoped that concrete proposals for a Presidential Scholars Initiative, named for President Bush and President Yudhoyono, will emerge from these deliberations, together with expanded individual university cooperative programs. Other bi-national and multilateral donors should also contribute to this effort, which is also aimed at restoring tertiary education in badly hit institutions in Aceh where over 100 Ph.D. scholars were lost in the tsunami disaster.
4. New Cooperation in Defense Relations
Mr. Chairman, the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – still less than six months old – and its renewed commitment to democratic reforms offer unparalleled opportunities to expand bilateral defense cooperation. It is little secret that Indonesian military capabilities have suffered from nearly 15 years of constrained assistance and contacts with the United States. This was seen in command and control deficiencies, airlift and technical shortcomings, and diminished interoperability skills during the recent disaster relief operations.
The reasons for the downturn in military-to-military cooperation have also permeated the overarching U.S.-Indonesian political relationship. But let me be clear: no one is arguing for impunity in alleged abuses that have been cited over the years, whether related to East Timor, domestic insurgencies, the suppression of democratic rights in connection with the reformasi movement beginning in 1999, inter-ethnic and inter-religious strife, or the killings of Americans and others in the well known Timika incident of August 2002 in Papua. Accountability, personal and national reconciliation, new efforts to promote political accommodation, and the application of internationally accepted human rights standards should pervade the more intensive relations now manifest between our two nations.
Mr. Chairman, within this frame of reference, there are important opportunities not to be lost.
An experts’ review of United States-Indonesia defense relations, supported by a private foundation, was issued by USINDO in December 2004 and was discussed in conferences held in Washington, D.C. and Jakarta. USINDO soon will publish three monographs in the important areas of internal stability and defense reform, counter-terrorism and maritime security. The overriding conclusion of these experts (copies of their report are available) was that urgent and overlapping interests regarding maritime security and counter-terrorism in Southeast Asia require expanded U.S. assistance to the Indonesian armed forces in addition to substantial upgrading of police (POLRI) capabilities. Furthermore, access to U.S. training in order to upgrade the professionalism of middle grade officers is a cardinal requirement, combined with assistance to modernize logistical and other systems, in order to promote defense reform and contribute to internal stability, taking into account the new roles of the TNI and POLRI in a democratic society.
Mr. Chairman, my view is that future United States assistance should be addressed in two ways: first, build up TNI capabilities, and second, advance defense reform in the government and civil sectors.
Core military priorities are:
- Training: IMET, Enhanced IMET and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) should be devoted to a five-year “crash” program to retrain captains, majors and lieutenant colonels in essential military skills, the humanitarian and other roles of today’s military forces, and international standards of conduct. Improved military professionalism not only will lead to better individual performance, but also will promote interoperability with foreign forces (a need evidenced in Aceh relief operations), update international peacekeeping skills, and enhance sensitivity to the human rights aspects of military operations. This upgrading of military skills across the board is needed to fulfill the TNI’s valid internal security role until police capabilities can be considerably improved.
- Air transport and logistics: It is gratifying to know that, due to the U.S. release of impounded spare parts and equipment, 13 C-130 aircraft are operating now in contrast to 4 before the tsunami disaster. Other forms of air transport and logistical systems of the air force, navy and ground forces should be upgraded to minimum operational standards. If there is to be effective regional cooperation in counter-terrorism and maritime security, the TNI must have the support platforms necessary to sustain patrolling and interdiction operations.
- Maritime security: The full US$6 million in FMF, as proposed in 2004, should be provided for the Indonesian Navy in 2005 to upgrade its sea patrolling operations. Additional assistance should be sought from South Korea and Japan, which also have important interests in maintaining maritime vigilance in Southeast Asia. The United States should also assist Indonesia and its neighbors to develop a Common Maritime Picture, entailing the integration of information from all sources, to track ship traffic in the Malacca Strait and critical sea space in the surrounding region. Secure, compartmented and reliable communications are also required to facilitate exchanges of information relating to counter-terrorism and maritime law enforcement. Consequently, I recommend that the United States fund a modern multi-nodal communications network whereby military, intelligence and law enforcement officials in the region can readily exchange sensitive operational information.
Mr. Chairman, an essential part of the advancement of democracy is capacity building to promote effective command and control of the armed forces as well as to enhance civil society’s role in national defense and security affairs. My suggestions for priority U.S. assistance in the civil sector would include:
- National command authority: The Aceh experience showed that Indonesia’s command and control system requires upgrading and connectivity with the President’s Office, the Coordinating Minister for Justice, Political and Security Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, TNI headquarters at all levels, the Police, associated national security bodies, and disaster management agencies. Any chief executive in today’s world must have reliable and redundant means of communicating with all key elements of government. The United States is uniquely qualified to help Indonesia construct a modern command, control and communications (C3) network to provide connectivity with the top-most level of government that would also include an effective, real-time reporting system for all echelons of the national security structure.
- National Defense Council and expert staff: There already is provision in law for the creation of a National Defense Council and U.S. experience is directly applicable to Indonesia’s needs. The United States should provide advisory assistance to establish a system in the President’s Office to ensure that the chief executive is able to coordinate with his key national security advisors and that processes are in place to expedite essential advice on important policy and operational matters.
- Ministry of Defense: Training and advisory assistance, in addition to expanded technical staffs in strategic planning, management, budgeting, logistics, and force planning are needed to enable the ministry under its present farsighted and experienced leader, Minister Juwono Sudarsono (who will visit Washington next week) to fulfill its essential constitutional role. The United States should set up special programs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey and elsewhere to provide intensive assistance and train
ing on a multi-year basis. Additionally, the Center of Excellence of the Pacific Command should provide intensive training and other assistance to develop an effective national disaster management system.
- Civil Sector: U.S. assistance should not only be confined to the government and armed forces, but civilian capacities also should be built up, perhaps through a qualified non-governmental organization (NGO) or think tank, to expand academic courses and research for the study of military affairs, civil-military policy development and institutional reform. Elevating public discussion of important politico-military policy matters will enrich national policy making as appropriate in a democratic society.
- Military Justice System: In a little heralded development last September, the military justice system was placed under the Supreme Court which is undergoing its own wide-scale reform and restructuring. Targeted U.S. assistance could be provided through a qualified NGO to help mesh the military and civil systems, provide cross-training, enhance judicial accountability, and sponsor training in international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict.
- Parliamentary Oversight: As evidenced in the visit to Washington of a parliamentary delegation last week, there is scope for improving linkages between the U.S. Congress and the DPR, as well as providing training and orientation in key defense and foreign relations subjects, international human rights law and practice, legislative drafting and research support. USAID assistance and direct Congress-DPR programs should be expanded to promote effective oversight by Indonesia’s democratically elected representatives.
- Reconciliation with East Timor: With the imminent launching of a Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) by Indonesia and East Timor, it should be possible for the United States to provide legal and other advisory assistance through a qualified NGO to make this process more meaningful. As the former head of the U.S. Department of State’s Cambodian Genocide Initiative, I believe that American specialists can offer a great deal to enrich the work of the commission in a non-intrusive and politically neutral fashion, while correctly upholding the responsibility of the two governments to guide this process.
- Aceh and Papua Demobilization: As done in the southern Philippines, the United States should support qualified organizations to retrain and resettle demobilized insurgents in war-torn Aceh and also in Papua. Providing insurgents with new livelihoods, reuniting them with their families, and relocating them in stable and non-threatening environments would facilitate political accommodations within the framework of Indonesia’s special autonomy law.
- Police Assistance: The United States should help marshal international assistance to increase the size national police (POLRI) to over 1 million officers, closer to the United Nations civil policing standard. Community policing should also be expanded, as should the number of indigenous police officers in Aceh and Papua taking into account special autonomy provisions. U.S. counter-terrorism assistance to the police should also be maintained.
- Privatization: The Ministry of Defense, under national law, has already begun to regularize the status of military-run businesses and to try to supplant extra-budgetary support with annual allocations from the national budget. This process should be enhanced and there is an opportunity for the United States to provide assistance, perhaps in connection with the World Bank, to bring military businesses under appropriate national surveillance, prepare them for privatization, and provide compensatory budgetary support.
Mr. Chairman, I fully realize that the foregoing menu of areas for potential U.S. engagement with Indonesia is extensive, if not overly ambitious. We at USINDO are hopeful that next week’s visit to Washington of Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, who is a well-recognized authority on defense reform, will launch the United States and Indonesia on a path of collaborative, multi-year cooperation to address foremost professional, capabilities, structural and civil sector needs. Strong United States commitment to advance democracy is fully justified in light of developments in Indonesia since 1999. In my personal view, the Bush Administration’s decision to lift restrictions on U.S. training and assistance is timely, if overdue, in terms of pressing joint interests in maritime security and counter-terrorism as well as the recent earthquake and tsunami tragedy.
Concluding, Mr. Chairman, my assessment is that the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono offers the best opportunity in well over a decade to deepen cooperation along a broad front for the purpose of locking in democracy for all the people within a united Indonesia. As Professor Karl Jackson of Johns Hopkins University, a prominent expert on Indonesia, remarked at a USINDO seminar last November, “If not SBY, who? If not now, when?”
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the time and attention of this eminent committee.
[Ambassador La Porta’s remarks are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the USINDO boards of trustees and advisors, corporate supporters or Friends of the Society.]
Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0128
Honorable Dan Burton
Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
Hearing: “Indonesia in Transition: Recent Developments and Implications for U.S. Policy”
Date: March 10, 2005
Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this important and timely hearing to highlight the importance of the world’s third largest democracy, fourth largest nation, and home of the largest Muslim population.
The Government of Indonesia (GOI) is one country that should be a major focus of American foreign policy. When so many positive stories in the Muslim world are obscured by protracted violence in areas of historic conflict, it is high time to take notice of the important strides Indonesia is making. As you are well aware, Indonesia has embarked on a dramatic transition to democratic governance over the past six years, culminating in the country’s first directly elected President. Indonesia serves as a role model for democracies throughout the world.
A major secular state with a Muslim majority, Indonesia is the world’s third largest democracy and is gaining International recognition for its strides towards complete democratization, making progressive political and constitutional reforms while also demonstrating that Islam and democracy are not mutually exclusive and can – in fact – successfully work in tandem. Moreover, newly elected President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has made clear his intentions to actively work to rid Indonesia of its problems with corruption, pledging to bring to an end a “culture of impunity” while enforcing greater transparency throughout his government.
In one calendar year, Indonesia has successfully demonstrated its commitment to embrace democracy on three separate occasions: Parliamentary elections in April; a first round of Presidential elections in July; and of course the September 20th Presidential runoff that ultimately determined the first directly-elected Indonesian President.
Now the real work begins. Economic growth and political reforms can and must occur in tandem, and we wish the new leadership in Jakarta great success in both areas. More foreign investment in this resource-rich country will not only create new employment opportunities, but it will also help improve the standard of living for many Indonesians. And
, as you can imagine, the positive role that U.S. foreign policy, business and investment can play is enormous.
Currently, the United States actively supports the Indonesian Navy to protect the vitally important sea lanes of Southeast Asia, through which an estimated 60 percent of global shipping tonnage passes. The threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia is real and Indonesia has suffered from several major attacks in recent years. In order to quell terrorist threats, Indonesia’s government is discovering new ways of working with regional law enforcement and intelligence communities in hopes of rooting out homegrown radicalism. We should continue to work closely with the GOI on counterterrorism operations to thwart the efforts of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) – Al-Qaeda’s Southeast Asia franchise – and other groups bent on creating a Pan-Islamic state within the region. The most impressive successes have been in the area of law enforcement; hundreds of JI members have been arrested, thus disrupting the network’s command and control structure.
On December 26, 2004, the American public – and International community at large – was forced to learn a lot about Indonesia as a result of the tsunami that left behind a path of extreme devastation and destruction throughout Indonesia and the myriad of other East African, South and Southeast Asian nations. This unfortunate natural disaster was a seminal event in both of our nation’s histories and ultimately demonstrated that our governments, civil society institutions, and militaries can effectively come together and work towards a common goal. We were pleased to witness such a positive signal for the future relationship between the U.S. and Indonesia, and were reassured that this cooperation is one of many
indications that both of our countries will continue to benefit from increased engagement.
As you already know Mr. Chairman, one of the many consequences of this devastating disaster was the call for renewed military cooperation between the United States and Indonesia. While the GOI has made dramatic reforms to weed out corruption and increase transparency, the same unfortunately cannot be said for several rogue units within Indonesia’s Army (ABRI). Previously existing patterns of behavior by these rogue elements continue to persist in very troubling ways. Currently, it is estimated that only 30 percent of TNI’s budget comes directly from the GOI itself, and the military engages in private and sometimes illegal businesses in order to make up their budget shortfall. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the recent tsunami, TNI utilized their resources to airlift members of the militant group Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front) to Aceh. Reports still surface from Aceh and West Papua implicating elements of the TNI in human rights abuses. We are deeply concerned about the slow pace of military reforms within Indonesia as members of the TNI continue to avoid justice in cases involving gross violations of human rights, whether committed in East Timor, Aceh, Papua, or elsewhere in the archipelago.
The U.S. State Department’s decision to certify Indonesia for IMET is one step in our long-term goal of broadening and strengthening our military relationship with Indonesia. However, we must support deeper reform efforts by the GOI to institutionalize professionalism, respect for human rights, weed out corruption and increase transparency in the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI). It is my sincere hope that our government will continue to practice careful and diligent oversight with regards to IMET funding for all nations.
Regardless, I am still particularly concerned about the slow pace of legal resolution of cases involving gross violations of human rights, whether committed in East Timor, Aceh, Papua, or elsewhere in the archipelago. The reinstatement of IMET was predicated on the GOI’s cooperation with the FBI in their investigation of a brutal attack that occurred on August 31, 2002, when 10 schoolteachers and a 6 year old child were ambushed – with heavy gunfire – as they were returning form a picnic to their residences in Tembagapura, Indonesia. The attack resulted in the death of two American citizens, Rick Spier and Leon Burgon, and one Indonesian citizen – Bambang Riwanto. Seven of the eight surviving Americans were seriously wounded. Initial investigations led some to believe that a rogue group from the military was involved in the ambush. Regardless, a joint U.S.-Indonesian investigation culminated in the indictment by a U.S. grand jury of Anthonius Wamang, an Indonesian citizen purportedly with connections to several rogue militant groups throughout the region. However, to our disappointment, Anthonius Wamang remains free to this day, and the Indonesian authorities – as we have been informed – have not issued an indictment for Wamang’s arrest.
In addition, the trafficking of women and children – especially since the recent Tsunami – is an ever-present problem throughout Indonesia’s archipelago. Following the Tsunami, I was pleased to see that President Susilo issued a decree that prevented children under the age of 16 from leaving the country without their parents to prevent traffickers from praying on these vulnerable orphans. Furthermore, the Minister for Social Affairs ordered that all orphaned children be taken to the Home for Social Protection of Children (RPSA), where they were offered protection and medical care until reunited with their families.
On June 14, 2004, the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons released their annual report, stating that “Indonesia is a source, transit and destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Indonesian victims are trafficked to Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Australia. Extensive trafficking occurs within Indonesia’s borders for forced labor and sexual exploitation.” Since that report was issued, I am encouraged by the Indonesian’s increased law enforcement efforts and greater convictions for trafficking-related offenses. We must continue to work with the GOI to ensure that there are continued improvements within their judiciary in order to ultimately make certain that there is effective prosecution of traffickers.
With regards to U.S. and other international investment, we must not forget that Indonesia’s economy was battered in the financial crisis of 1997 and governing this sprawling archipelago has not been easy in the wake of the economic meltdown and dramatic political change we have witnessed in the seven short years of post-Soeharto Reformasi. Much remains to be done, particularly in the areas of judicial reform, corruption, human rights and social welfare.
U.S. investment in the country totals some $25 billion, and more than 300 major American firms do business there as a massive decentralization process is being implemented. The United States should continue providing support to help Indonesia stabilize and consolidate these political and economic gains. Through a combination of strategic development supports and more effective public diplomacy we can engage Indonesia well into the future.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. I look forward to hearing the testimony of all of our witnesses today. It is my hope that by the end of the day we will have a better understanding of Indonesia’s transition towards complete democratization.
Beware a Wolfowitz in Sheep’s Clothing
Washington Backs Indonesian Military Again
by Joseph Nevins
March 10th, 2005
When I saw Paul Wolfowit
z’s smug grin in the January 17 issue of The New York Times, trouble was clearly on the horizon. The photo showed him in tsunami-stricken Indonesia, accompanying the country’s defense minister, Juwono Sudarsono. His visit was under the guise of humanitarianism. But as always with Wolfowitz and Indonesia, a more nefarious project is in the offing: strengthening Washington’s ties with the Indonesian military (TNI).
The first and only time I ever saw Wolfowitz in person was on May 7, 1997. I was in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. The occasion was a hearing of the House of Representative’s Committee on International Relations’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. The subject was “United States Policy Toward Indonesia.”
Wolfowitz walked in confidently from the front of the room just as the hearings were getting underway. Well-groomed and, at the time, in his mid-50s, he vigorously shook the hands of many of those present while smiling broadly. They called him “ambassador” as they greeted him.
Paul Wolfowitz would, of course, emerge a few years later as the infamous under-secretary of defense for the administration of George W. Bush. As such, he was one of the principal fabricators of Saddam as Hitler redux and a head cheerleader for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Prior to that, Wolfowitz served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 1982 to 1986, and as ambassador to Indonesia during the Reagan administration’s final three years. He thus was the primary architect of U.S. policy toward the resource-rich country in the 1980s. During his tenure, U.S. support for the TNI peaked despite, among many crimes, the military’s illegal occupation of East Timor, which resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people.
At the time of the May 1997 hearing on Capitol Hill, Wolfowitz was dean of the prestigious School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University and was an active member of the corporate-funded U.S.-Indonesia Society; he was thus still in a position to continue to exert influence on Washington’s relations with Jakarta.
Douglas Bereuter, then a Republican representative from Nebraska, presided over the proceedings as chair of the subcommittee. A long-time supporter of Suharto’s “New Order” government, Bereuter had proven to be among the staunchest opponents of efforts to block military aid to Jakarta. He opened the hearing by extolling the New Order’s virtues, saying that it had “done much to preserve peace in Southeast Asia” and that it had “welcomed the U.S. security presence in the region and… granted U.S. forces access to Indonesian facilities.” While Bereuter acknowledged the Suharto regime’s less-than-shining human rights record—including that in East Timor—he argued for “continued military interaction” with Jakarta through American training and for “the sale of appropriately limited military equipment.” Such “interaction,” he opined, would “advance U.S. security interests as well as the cause of democracy and human rights.”
Wolfowitz’s testimony struck a similar tone, while explicitly arguing against any talk in Washington of support for East Timorese independence–talk that he characterized as “destructive”–and calling for a renewal of U.S. military training of the TNI. His testimony stressed Jakarta’s many “achievements.” “[I]n the 7 years since I left Indonesia,” he declaimed, “on the positive side, there has been significantly greater openness in a number of respects. There is more open questioning of public officials on government decisions that have gone against the government, although in most cases, the government eventually prevailed. There have been court martials of military officers for the massacre in East Timor in 1991. And I might note that I think for any military to court martial its officers for that kind of action takes an effort.”(1)
The former ambassador was referring to Jakarta’s charade-like prosecution and sentencing to minimal prison terms of a handful of low-ranking TNI officers in response to international criticism over what Indonesia termed “the Santa Cruz incident.” This was Jakarta’s euphemism for a massacre by the TNI of hundreds of peaceful pro-independence demonstrators in East Timor’s capital in November 1991. The prosecutions and convictions dovetailed neatly with the official Indonesian line that the bloodbath–what a United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ investigation characterized as a “planned military operation”–was not the result of a concerted policy, but of the actions of a few rogue soldiers.(2)
In his prepared written statement submitted to the subcommittee, Wolfowitz praised Suharto, a dictator who seized power through what the CIA described “as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.” Over the course of several months in 1965-1966, the Suharto-led military and its minions slaughtered members of the Indonesian Communist Party along with members of loosely affiliated organizations such as women’s groups and labor unions. Amnesty International estimated “many more than one million” were killed. The head of the Indonesian state security system approximated the toll at half a million, with another 750,000 jailed or sent to concentration camps.
But such unpleasantness was clearly not on Wolfowitz’s mind in composing his statement. “Any balanced judgment” of the country’s human rights situation, he opined, “needs to take account of the significant progress that Indonesia has already made.” Much of the progress, he declared, was due to Suharto’s “strong and remarkable leadership.”
In 1998, massive protests led Asia’s longest-reigning dictator to step down. Hence Wolfowitz quickly changed his tune, later characterizing Suharto in an interview on PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer as someone who “without any question was fighting reform every step of the way.”(3) Yet, he continued to defend the Indonesian military as a force for good.
On February 17, 1999, Wolfowitz was in the secretary of state’s private dining room for a working dinner called by its hostess, Madeleine Albright. The invited guests were academics, all of them Indonesia specialists. After a dessert of apple crisp and rum-raisin ice cream, the secretary of state asked the guests specific questions about developments in Indonesia, a country she was preparing to visit in March. The last topic of discussion was East Timor.
Geoffrey Robinson, a historian at the University of California, Los Angeles, had been designated to speak on the matter. A State Department representative had told Robinson that he was to discuss alternatives to a referendum in East Timor, to explain what would be viable options other than a one-person-one-vote process as there were elements within the State Department who did not support that concept. Despite those instructions, Robinson made it clear in his remarks that only a legitimate act of self-determination–in the form of some sort of universal ballot organized and run by the United Nations–would satisfy the East Timorese population, and that there were no viable alternatives.
Sitting at the other end of the table, Wolfowitz quickly responded, informing Albright and the other guests that independence for East Timor was simply not a realistic option. Employing language long utilized by Jakarta, he argued that East Timor would descend into civil war if Indonesia were to withdraw, leading to the same sort of chaos that unfolded in 1975. The problem in East Timor, he contended, was one of tribal and clan-based differences. Only the Indonesian military had been able to
put an end to the fighting, according to the esteemed former professor.
A State Department official politely called the evening to a close as soon as Robinson informed Wolfowitz of the wrong-headed nature of his analysis.
Several months later, East Timor overwhelmingly opted for independence in a U.N.-run ballot. In response, the TNI and its militia proxies killed many hundreds of civilians, while raping untold numbers of women and girls and laying waste to the vast majority of the territory’s buildings and infrastructure, before finally withdrawing. As when Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975, it was not the atavistic propensity of the East Timorese to fight amongst themselves that was the problem, but an aggressive and brutal TNI and its patrons in Washington (among other Western capitals).
The TNI’s myriad crimes in East Timor could not have happened without the significant economic, military, and diplomatic support of the TNI from the United States. Indeed, such support was decisive in allowing the 1975 invasion to take place and for the occupation to endure as long it did. But Washington–and a compliant corporate media and Beltway pundit class–have effectively buried this history.
The intentional nature of this “forgetting”–in addition to the deep bipartisan nature of support for U.S. empire and an ugly global status quo–was on shameless display on May 13, 2000, in Italy at the Bologna Center of the Johns Hopkins University. The guest speaker was Richard Holbrooke, a man who had also served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs—during the Carter “human rights” administration—and who thus also has a great of East Timorese blood on his hands. Introducing him was Dean Paul Wolfowitz.
After Wolfowitz’s flowery welcome, Holbrooke returned the favor, cracking a joke about how the introduction showed that he gets “better treatment from Republicans than Democrats in some quarters.” He then praised the former ambassador to Jakarta as “a continuing participant in the effort to find the right policy for one of the most important countries in the world, Indonesia.” Holbrooke proceeded to explain how Wolfowitz’s “activities illustrate something that’s very important about American foreign policy in an election year and that is the degree to which there are still common themes between the parties. East Timor is a good example. Paul and I have been in frequent touch to make sure that we keep it out of the presidential campaign, where it would do no good to American or Indonesian interests.”(4)
Yet, despite such efforts, Congress significantly weakened military ties with Jakarta in 1999 and has since prevented reinstatement as a result of public outrage over the TNI’s atrocities in East Timor and elsewhere, and past U.S. support for such. It is this situation that Paul Wolfowitz and the Bush administration are eager to reverse. The tragedy in Indonesia has provided an opportunity to do just that.
Almost all of the tsunami deaths took place in the region where over 160,000 people of a population of 4.2 million have perished. Much of its capital city of Banda Aceh and most of the province’s coastal towns and villages are in ruins, with about 500,000 people homeless. Oil-rich Aceh is also the site of a long-standing war for independence, one that has resulted in the deaths of somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 civilians, almost all of them victims of a brutal TNI counterinsurgency campaign against a pro-independence movement that enjoys widespread support. As a result, Jakarta’s brutal efforts to crush the insurgency are unpopular to say the least.
At one of his two press conferences in Jakarta on Sunday, February 16, 2005, Wolfowitz argued, “Everybody recognizes that the most important thing right now is to meet the needs of the people of Aceh,” suggesting that the best way to do so was to increase the TNI’s logistical capacity. Referring to the Bush administration’s post-tsunami decision to grant to Jakarta replacement components for U.S.-produced military transport planes, Wolfowitz asserted that there is “no controversy whatsoever in my country about the fact that we are now providing spare parts to get Indonesian C-130s flying.”(5)
The East Timor Action Network, some human rights groups, and organizations of Acehnese refugees in the United States, however, have communicated to Washington that they do not approve of any assistance from Washington to the TNI– including that characterized as “non-lethal”–as it inevitably increases the TNI’s repressive capacity. At the same time, they do want the TNI–an institution widely distrusted, if not hated, in Aceh–involved in the distribution of aid in the province.(6)
According to various reports in the weeks following the tsunami, the TNI exploited the crisis and undercut the delivery of humanitarian assistance by refusing to allow local non-governmental organizations to distribute aid channeled through the Indonesian government. In addition, the TNI continued to target the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and its civilian supporters despite the GAM’s post-tsunami declaration of a unilateral cease-fire.
Nevertheless, Wolfowitz argued at both press conferences that weak U.S ties with the TNI exacerbate the problems of Indonesia, from the country’s ability to respond to humanitarian crises to ongoing efforts of military reform. “I think if we’re interested in military reform here, and, certainly this Indonesian government is, and our government is, I think we need to reconsider a bit where we are at this point in history,” stated Wolfowitz. Echoing the same baseless arguments he made in the 1990s, Donald Rumsfeld’s deputy claimed that the way to promote the TNI’s supposed efforts to make itself more professional and accountable is to lift
Washington’s current restrictions and increase U.S. military sales and training. In this way, so goes the logic, the TNI would be exposed to democratic values and practices.
But just as before, there is no evidence that exposure to the alleged democratic values of the Pentagon improve the conduct of allied militaries abroad; to the contrary, U.S. training often makes them more efficiently brutal. At the same time, there is nothing to indicate that the TNI has changed or is interested in doing so.
Human rights groups report continuing widespread atrocities by the TNI–especially in Aceh and West Papua. An October 2004 report by Amnesty International, for example, writes of “evidence of a disturbing pattern of grave abuses of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights” in Aceh for which Indonesian security forces bear “primary responsibility.” The human rights violations–including extrajudicial executions, torture and the rape of women and girls–have taken place at a scale “so pervasive that there is virtually no part of life in the province which remains untouched,” the Amnesty report says.(7) Meanwhile, Jakarta–partially following Washington’s lead on impunity for international crimes for everyone except official U.S. enemies–has not held any Indonesian political or military personnel responsible for the myriad crimes committed in East Timor or elsewhere.
But such facts have fallen on deaf ears in the Bush administration. On February 27, the U.S. State Department announced the full reinstatement of International Military Education and Training (IMET) funding to Indonesia, stating that the program “will strengthen [Indonesia’s] ongoing democratic progress.” The re
instatement followed on the heels of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s fraudulent certification that the TNI had complied with conditions legislated by Congress.(8)
Such news undoubtedly brought another smile to Paul Wolfowitz’s face. But for those truly concerned with human rights, democracy, and international law, there is nothing to smile about: As it did in the 1980s and 1990s, Wolfowitz’s current recipe for Indonesia will not bring about “reform,” but will only make Washington complicit in the TNI’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Joseph Nevins, an assistant professor of geography at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, is the author of Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary. Cornell University Press will publish his latest book, A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor, in May.
A shorter version of this piece appeared in the print edition of CounterPunch.
(1) United States Congress. “United States Policy Toward Indonesia,” Hearing before the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, 105th Congress, May 7, 1997, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998.
(2) United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, on his Mission to Indonesia and East Timor from 3 to 13 July 1994 (E/CN.4/1995/61/Add.1), November 1, 1994.
(3) Tim Shorrock, “Paul Wolfowitz: A Man to Keep a Close Eye On,” Asia Times Online, March 21, 2001; available at http://www.atimes.com/se-asia/CC21Ae01.html
(4) Richard Holbrooke, Speech to the Bologna Center of the Johns Hopkins University, May 13, 2000. Available online at http://www.un.int/usa/00hol0513.htm
(5) Transcripts of the press conferences are available at
(6) See East Timor Action Network press release, “Tsunami Must Not Sweep Away Restrictions on Indonesian Military,” January 13, 2005; available at http://etan.org/news/2005/01tsun.htm
(7) Amnesty International, “Indonesia: New Military Operations, Old Patterns of Human Rights Abuses in Aceh,” October 7, 2004; available at http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA210332004?open&of=ENG-IDN
(8) U.S. Department of State, “Indonesia: Secretary Rice’s Decision to Certify International Military Education and Training” (press statement), February 26, 2005; available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/42752.htm
Statement of The Honorable Eni F.H. Faleomavaega
Representative of American Samoa in Congress
Before the International Relations Subcommittee On
Asia and The Pacific Regarding Indonesia and West Papua
U.S. House of Representatives
March 10, 2005
I thank you for holding this hearing. Like many of my colleagues, I am deeply concerned by the Administration’s decision to certify full IMET for Indonesia. For years, the U.S. has restricted foreign military financing for Indonesia and rightfully so given the horrendous human rights record of the Indonesian military. Even in the aftermath of the devastation caused by the recent tsunami, the media has reported that the Indonesian military has withheld food and other humanitarian assistance from those believed to be pro-independent. The U.S. cannot and must not turn a blind eye to these abuses or to Indonesia’s repression of the people of Aceh and West Papua.
While I am aware that in 2004 Congress narrowed the basis for its ban on IMET to a single condition requiring the State Department to certify that the Indonesian government and military were cooperating in an FBI investigation of an August 31, 2002 assault on a group of U.S. citizens in Timika, West Papua, I believe there are equally serious reasons why the U.S. should renew bans on IMET and foreign military financing (FMF) for Indonesia.
In response to President Bush’s State of the Union address in which he talked about “our generational commitment to the advance of freedom” and in which he said “America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world” and that “our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures,” I want to bring attention to the plight of West Papua New Guinea and assert that TNI remains the central threat to democracy in Indonesia.
The U.S. State Department has publicly acknowledged the brutal TNI record. As noted in the latest State Department Annual Human Rights Report on Indonesia:
“Security force members murdered, tortured, raped, beat and arbitrarily detained civilians and members of separatist movements especially in Aceh and Papua. Retired and active duty military officers known to have committed serious human rights violations occupied or were promoted to senior positions in the government and in the TNI.”
Defense Minister Sudarsono has further noted, “The military retains the real levers of power. From the political point of view the military remains the fulcrum in Indonesia.” This is the case now and has been the case since Indonesia seized control of West Papua New Guinea.
In 1962, the United States mediated an agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands in which the Dutch were to leave West Papua, transfer sovereignty to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) for a period of six years, after which time a national election was to be held to determine West Papua’s political status.
However, after this agreement was reached, Indonesia violated the terms of transfer and took over the administration of West Papua from the UNTEA. In 1969, Indonesia orchestrated an election that many regarded as a brutal military operation. Known as the “Act of Choice,” 1,022 elders under heavy military surveillance were selected to vote for 809,327 Papuans on the territory’s political status.
Despite the opposition of fifteen countries and the cries for help from the Papuans themselves, the United Nations (UN) sanctioned Indonesia’s act and, on September 10, 1969, West Papua became a province of Indonesian rule. Since, the Papuans have suffered blatant human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions, imprisonment, torture and, according to Afrim Djonbalic’s 1998 statement to the UN, “environmental degradation, natural resource exploitation, and commercial dominance of immigrant communities.”
The Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic at Yale University recently found, in the available evidence, “a strong indication that the Indonesian government has committed genocide against the Papuans.” We
st Papua New Guineans differ racially from the majority of Indonesians. West Papuans are Melanesian and believed to be of African descent. In 1990, Nelson Mandela reminded the United Nations that when “it first discussed the South African question in 1946, it was discussing the issue of racism.” I also believe the question of West Papua is an issue of racism.
Furthermore, I believe this is an issue of commercial exploitation. West Papua New Guinea is renowned for its mineral wealth including vast reserves of gold, copper, nickel, oil and gas. In 1995, for example, the Grasberg ore-mountain in West Papua was estimated to be worth more than $54 billion. Yet little or no compensation has been made to local communities and new provisions in the law fall well short of West Papuan demands for independence.
In a statement dated February 24, 2004 (attached), Archbishop Bishop Desmond Tutu called on the UN to act on West Papua and 174 parliamentarians and 80 nongovernmental agencies from around the world wrote to Secretary General Kofi Annan asking that a review be initiated. In the interim, Indonesian military operations in the highlands of West Papua have been ongoing since August 2004 and there are indications that this operation is spreading to other regions of West Papua forcing thousands of villagers into the forests where they lack adequate food, shelter and medicine. Indications are that this operation is spreading and intensifying.
Given these circumstances, I am reminded of Nelson Mandela’s statement before the UN Special Committee against Apartheid in which he said:
“It will forever remain an indelible blight on human history that the apartheid crime ever occurred. Future generations will surely ask — what error was made that this system established itself in the wake of the adoption of a Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
It will forever remain an accusation and a challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took as long as it has before all of us stood up to say enough is enough.”
On the question of West Papua, I feel similarly and I believe it is time to say enough is enough. The question of West Papua is not an internal problem. As early as 1961, Robert Johnson of the National Security Council Staff wrote a letter to Mr. Bundy, the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, noting that the United States “must conclude that it is in our interests that a solution be devised which will lead to accession of West New Guinea to Indonesia.”
In other words, it was our national policy to sacrifice the lives and future of some 800,000 West Papua New Guineans to the Indonesian military in exchange, supposedly, for Sukarno and Suharto to become our friends, and yet they organized the most repressive military regimes ever known in the history of Indonesia. Almost three decades later, we continue to exacerbate the problem by making plans to certify full IMET for Indonesia as our brothers and sisters in West Papua New Guinea live a struggle of our making.
President Bush has publicly stated, “We are all part of a great venture – To extend the promise of freedom in our country, to renew the values that sustain our liberty, and to spread the peace that freedom brings.” In my opinion, the President’s mantra must and should include West Papua and I am hopeful that this means the Administration will support West Papua’s right to self-determination through a referendum or plebiscite sanctioned by the UN, as was done for East Timor, and that the U.S. will end its efforts to develop closer ties with the Indonesian military.
I welcome your comments.
NZ’s ban on military ties with Indonesia supported
Monday, 14 March 2005, 8:34 am
Press Release: Indonesia Human Rights Committee
Indonesia Human Rights Committee supports New Zealand’s continuing ban on military ties with Indonesia. The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has sent a letter of support to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to back their commitment to maintaining a ban on military ties with Indonesia.
New Zealand and other western nations broke military ties with Indonesia in the wake of the murderous military rampage that took place in East Timor in 1999. The United States has just announced that military ties will be resumed.
While Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, has rightly said that the perpetrators of mass killings in East Timor must be held to account, IHRC believes that there are equally strong arguments for the maintaining the ban based on the current behaviour of the Indonesian military.
The Indonesian military is not democratically accountable or as Indonesia’s Minister of Defence Juwono Sudarsono said the military “retains the real levers of power”.
In Aceh the military continues to terrorise the civilian population without respite or mercy despite the terrible suffering the people have endured since the Boxing Day tsunami. Many areas remain off-limits to international aid workers, many of whom may soon be forced to leave Aceh. Innocent civilians are killed daily.
No one has been held to account for the 2002 murder of two US citizens on a Freeport mining company road in Timika West Papua. Independent investigations have revealed that the military was involved.
In West Papua military repression is intense, particularly in the remote highland areas, where the international media and aid workers have been barred from entry. Thousands of refugees in the Puncak Jaya area remain trapped behind a military cordon without proper food or medical support. Many have died.
The Indonesian military is deeply complicit in the devastation of one of the last tracts of pristine native forests in the Asia Pacific region. This illegal racket has been stealing 300,000 cubic metres of rare merbau wood a month from West Papua. The Indonesian Government has freely admitted that the military has been involved in this crime.
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations
Prepared Statement of Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
A Global Review of Human Rights: Examining the State Department’s 2004
March 17, 2005
In Indonesia, elections resulted in the transfer of power to an elected opposition leader. However, Indonesia’s ad hoc trials on East Timor acquitted most militia leaders and Indonesian officers indicted by the UN for crimes against humanity in connection with the 1999 violence, and levied only minimal penalties against others, none of whom has spent a day in jail. Rather than achieving accountability, the trials became a mechanism for impunity and were viewed as seriously flawed by most international observers. Many of those indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor continue to maintain powerful positions, and the military continued its offensive in Aceh, attacking dozens of civilian targets even after the tsunami devastated the region. I am disturbed that given these circumstances, the State Department recently certified cooperation on the Papua killings to allow resumption of IMET military training.