"How US Trained Butchers of Timor"

Owen Jones owen.jones at SPAMultramail.co.uk
Sun Sep 19 04:19:07 MDT 1999

--Shock, horror, as if we didn't already know this?--OJ

(If you want to see it directly on the Net, go to the following URL):



 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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