"How US Trained Butchers of Timor"

Krishna Lalbiharie umlalbi0 at SPAMcc.UManitoba.CA
Sun Sep 19 14:57:00 MDT 1999

 How US trained butchers of Timor
>Exclusive: Washington trained death squads in secret while Britain has spent
>£1m helping Indonesian army
>Ed Vulliamy in New York and Antony Barnett  Sunday September 19, 1999
>Indonesian military forces linked to the carnage in East Timor were trained
>in the United States under a covert programme sponsored by the Clinton
>Administration which continued until last year.
>The Observer can also disclose that the Government has spent about £1
>million in training more than 50 members of the Indonesian military in
>Britain since it came to power.
>Human rights campaigners claim a number of these are likely to have links
>with those complicit in the attrocities.
>The US programme, codenamed 'Iron Balance', was hidden from legislators and
>the public when Congress curbed the official schooling of Indonesia's army
>after a massacre in 1991. Principal among the units that continued to be
>trained was the Kopassus - an elite force with a bloody history - which was
>more rigorously trained by the US than any other Indonesian unit, according
>to Pentagon documents passed to The Observer last week.
>Kopassus was built up with American expertise despite US awareness of its
>role in the genocide of about 200,000 people in the years after the invasion
>of East Timor in 1975, and in a string of massacres and disappearances since
>the bloodbath. Amnesty International describes Kopassus as 'responsible for
>some of the worst human rights violations in Indonesia's history'.
>The Pentagon documents - obtained by the US-based East Timor Action Network
>and Illinois congressman Lane Evans - detail every exercise in the covert
>training programme, conducted under a Pentagon project called JCET (Joint
>Combined Education and Training). They show the training was in military
>expertise that could only be used internally against civilians, such as
>urban guerrilla warfare, surveillance, counter-intelligence, sniper
>marksmanship and 'psychological operations'.
>Specific commanders trained under the US programme have been tied to the
>current violence and to some of the worst massacres of the past 20 years,
>including the slaughter at Kraras in 1983 and at Santa Cruz in 1991. The
>US-trained commanders include the son-in-law of the late dictator General
>Suharto, Prabowo Subianto, and his mentor, General Kiki Syahnakri - the man
>appointed last week by the so-called 'reform' government as commissioner for
>martial law in East Timor.
>The secret programme unveiled in the document became the focus for military
>training when above-board aid was curtailed by Congress after the Santa Cruz
>massacre. Congress had stepped in after up to 270 peaceful protesters - many
>of them schoolchildren - were murdered by Kopassus shock troops as they
>paraded through Dili.
>American sponsorship of the Indonesian regime began as a matter of Cold War
>ideology, in the wake of defeat in Vietnam. The left-wing movement in East
>Timor was feared by Jakarta and seen by the US as an echo of those in
>southern Africa and of Salvador Allende's government in Chile. Jakarta's
>harassment of the Timor government and the invasion of 1975 were duly
>encouraged by the United States.
>The training of Indonesia's officer corps peaked during the mid-Eighties. In
>1990 a former official at the US Embassy in Jakarta cabled the State
>Department to say US sponsorship had been 'a big help to the (Indonesian)
>army. They probably killed a lot of people and I probably have a lot of
>blood on my hands'.
>But the horror of Santa Cruz in 1991, when trucks were seen dumping bodies
>in the sea, was too much. The US decided that the training, while still
>available, should be paid for by the recipient nation - in other words, it
>would no longer be military aid. The covert programme then became the main
>means of training Indonesia's military - still at the American taxpayers'
>In an undated prospectus, the Pentagon says the prime mission was to 'to
>develop, organise, equip, train, advise and direct indigenous militaries'.
>The scale was small, to offer concentrated 'significant special training'
>which would create 'self-sufficient small units'. In 1996, for instance, 10
>exercises involved 376 US personnel and 838 Indonesians or 'loyal' Timorese.
>Britain also made a significant contribution to Indonesia's military
>training. The Observer has established that, since May 1997, 24 senior
>members of Indonesia's forces have been trained in UK military colleges.
>This included training in running military units efficiently and how to used
>technical equipment like guided missiles. In addition, 29 Indonesian
>officers have studied at non-military establishments.
>Revelations of the extent to which Labour has used taxpayers' money to aid
>the Indonesian military has angered many MPs, who claim it makes a mockery
>of Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's 'ethical foreign policy'. In the last four
>years of the Tory Government, only one Indonesian soldier was trained in the
>Ann Clwyd, the Labour chair of the all-party group on human rights, has
>previously shown that Indonesian military trained here have subsequently
>committed atrocities. She said: 'It is simply not acceptable that we have
>been training these people. We know the police, the army, the militia are
>all interlinked. How many of those trained by this Government are now
>involved in the East Timor operation?'
>Last week both America and Australia suspended military co-operation with
>Funding for the military training would have been made available by the
>Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence through the Defence Military
>Assistance Fund. Earlier this year Defence Minister Doug Henderson admitted
>that training one Indonesian navy officer at the Joint Service Command and
>Staff College and another on the International Principal Warfare Course at
>HMS Dryad cost the Government £170,000.
>Many of the Indonesian officers were trained at the Royal Military College
>at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, as part of a ' private and commercial
>initiative' by Cranfield University. As well as courses on managing army
>units, the training includes map-making and electronics.
>In the past two years the Foreign Office has also given £200,000 to eight
>Indonesian high-flyers through its Chevening scholarship programme. This
>included two policemen, two from the army and two from the navy. On Friday,
>the Indonesian authorities stopped three servicemen taking up their
>Both the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office defend the training given as
>'constructive engagement'. A spokesman for the MoD said: 'It is a way of
>ensuring professionalism in foreign armies. It encourages higher standards,
>good governance and greater respect for human rights.'
> The Foreign Office points out that many of the Indonesian officers on non
>military courses are studying subjects such as international law and human
>Last summer seven members of Kopassus finished a post-graduate course in
>defence studies at Hull University. The Ministry of Defence arranged the
>deal after liaising with General Prabowo. Although the course was initiated
>before the general election, it started after Labour's victory. George
>Robertson, then Defence Secretary, was happy for it to continue. Despite
>Prabowo's links to atrocities in East Timor, Robertson once described him as
>The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, meanwhile, says in today's Observer that
>'there is a mopping-up operation to be done in Britain on the myths that
>have mushroomed among commentators who have only discovered the plight of
>East Timor in the last fortnight'. He denies that Britain has 'armed
>Indonesia to the teeth', or provided weapons to the militias, and says that
>Britain has not given fresh subsidies to buy Hawk trainers.
>Amnesty International's East Timor country specialist, Deborah Sklar, traces
>the regime's 'over-reliance on thuggish military operations' as being due to
>the demands of the foreign investment community and even from the World
>She cites a blueprint called The East Asian Miracle, written by US Treasury
>Secretary Lawrence Summers, in which he urges governments to 'insulate'
>themselves from 'pluralist pressures' and to suppress trade unions. This,
>she says, became a primary Kopassus role during the years of training by the
>United States.
>'If the US,' says Sklar, 'has supplied to the Indonesians equipment that has
>been concerned in the perpetration of human rights abuses, then that is an

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