US-made Weapons to Be Used
In Indonesian Military War on Aceh
by Kurt Biddle
Indonesian Human Rights Network
May 14, 2003
Indonesia is gearing up for resumption of a full-scale war in Aceh, a resource-rich region of the archipelago where ExxonMobil has been charged with colluding with the brutal Indonesian military (TNI) occupation. According to press accounts, U.S.-made weapons will be used in the assault. Almost 7,000 new troops were sent to Aceh in the past few days and up to 50,000 personnel will be sent in the coming offensive. The military currently has 30,000 troops and 12,000 police stationed in Aceh. TNI officials have boasted they plan to crush the armed Free Aceh Movement (GAM) within six months.
As reported in the Indonesian press, U.S.-made military aircraft being readied for the scorched earth assault include two F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter jets, six OV-10 Bronco counter-insurgency aircraft, five S-58 Twinpack helicopters, and six C-130 Hercules tactical transport planes.
The U.S. government should condemn Indonesia’s planned use of U.S.-made aircraft against the Acehnese, this war will only serve to recruit more civilians to the armed resistance. The Indonesian government should be strongly encouraged to pursue a peaceful solution to the conflict in Aceh and also be told to end the crackdown on peaceful Acehnese activists working to create an alternative to armed resistance.
Last December, the Indonesian government and GAM signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), which led to a dramatic decrease in the number of causalities in Aceh. The CoHA did not deal with several issues that could not be agreed upon, including whether Aceh will remain part of Indonesia or be a separate nation, as GAM and the majority of Acehnese are demanding.
The Indonesian government set a May 12 deadline for GAM to abandon its call for independence and lay down arms as a precondition for a return to the negotiation table. GAM proposed a meeting after May 12, but Jakarta rejected this offer. Indonesia has violated the CoHA by sending new troops to Aceh and arresting peaceful human rights defenders and other political activists. More than 50 international peace monitors reportedly withdrew from Aceh yesterday.
The U.S. Department of State is poised to consult Congress regarding resumption of the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program for Indonesia. Congress approved funds for the program for the current fiscal year, but because of apparent TNI involvement in the murders of three people (including two Americans) in Papua last August, the State Department promised it would consult Congress before spending any IMET funds allocated for the TNI. The FBI investigation into the Papua attacks is far from over, and with Indonesia abandoning a peaceful solution to the Aceh conflict, now is not the time to resume training for the Indonesian military.
Human rights groups estimate 1,000 people (mostly civilians) were killed in 2001 and over 1,300 in 2002. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented systematic use of torture, rape and extrajudicial execution by the Indonesian military throughout its campaign there.
Similar terror tactics, along with U.S. weapons, were used in the subjugation of the East Timorese people during Indonesia¹s 24-year occupation of that former Portuguese territory. The U.S. cut off all arms sales to Indonesia in 1999, after the TNI and its militia proxies razed East Timor and drove hundreds of thousands of civilians from their homes following the country’s vote for independence from Indonesia.
Kurt Biddle is Coordinator of The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN), a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability and rule of law in Indonesia. IHRN seeks to end armed forces repression in Indonesia by exposing it to international scrutiny. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen civil society. See www.IndonesiaNetwork.org for further information. Kurt can be reached at email@example.com, (510) 559-7762 phone, (561) 760-0456 eFax.