This is a press release sent into the public account that we're noting in full. It's not Iraq related but we will continue to note ETAN's press releases when possible and do so on Saturdays:
Bush Administration Trains Members of Indonesian Terrorist Groups
Abandons Human Rights for Indonesia to Train Its Worst Military and Police
Contact: John M. Miller (ETAN), (917) 690-4391
Ed McWilliams (WPAT), (703) 899-5285
December 19, 2007 - Human rights advocates have learned that the U.S. is training members of Kopassus, the notorious Indonesian Special Forces unit with a long record of human rights violations. The similarly-brutal Brimob, the para-military mobile police brigade, is receiving training as well.
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) today strongly condemned U.S. training for the two units, saying that it undermines the little credibility the U.S. has left in promoting human rights and accountability in Indonesia. ETAN and WPAT urged Congress to intervene to prevent such training and called on the administration to publicly pledge not to provide further assistance to the two units.
"The Bush administration promised Congress that it would ‘carefully calibrate’ any
security assistance to promote reform and human rights," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "Getting in bed again with Kopassus and Brimob promotes the opposite. Clearly, the administration's moral gauges are in need of a major realignment."
"The Bush administration may see Kopassus and Brimob – the worst of the worst among Indonesia’s security forces -- as allies against terrorism, but, to most, they act like terrorist groups, regularly targeting civilians for political ends," added Miller.
"Up until the present, Kopassus and Brimob have long histories of violating human rights throughout Indonesia, notably in West Papua, in East Timor and elsewhere," said Ed McWilliams of WPAT and former Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta from 1996 to1999. "There can be no doubt that Kopassus and Brimob will portray the
training as an exoneration by the U.S. Their many victims will shake their heads in disbelief at the U.S. government claim that it is using security assistance to promote human rights." In the past, Congress has cut off military assistance for the Indonesian military specifically because of the kind of brutality that Kopassus -- identifiable by their red berets -- is known for.
"Assertions that the trainees were vetted for past human rights violations before receiving International Military and Education Training (IMET) or other training are pointless. They will bring the experience gained by such training back to their units. This can
only make them more efficient at their villainous activities," added McWilliams. He also noted that a 2005 Congressional study revealed that vetting for IMET programs was ineffective. The State Department continues to describe its defective vetting program as a "work in progress."
The poor human rights records of both Kopassus and Brimob are well-documented by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. This week in the Consolidated Appropriations bill, Congress again recognized the need to hold accountable those responsible for past human rights violations in Indonesia and East Timor, many of which involved Brimob and Kopassus. The bill also seeks to strengthen U.S. law to prevent training of units that have “committed gross violations of human rights.”
A covert Kopassus operations manual, found in the ashes of East Timor after Indonesia withdrew in 1999, states that Kopassus personnel were to be prepared in the "tactic and technique" of "terror" and "kidnapping."
Dr. Damien Kingsbury, an Australian expert on the Indonesian military, has written that "Kopassus has murdered and tortured political activists, trade unionists and human rights workers. It has also trained, equipped and led militias in East Timor, West Papua and
Aceh, and Kopassus members trained the notorious Laskar Jihad Islamic militia, which stepped up conflict in the Ambon region, leaving up to 10,000 dead. It was Kopassus that murdered Papuan independence leader Theys Eluay in 2001." Kopassus was also involved in the 1998 killing of students and the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists in Jakarta.
Major General Sunarko, the current commander of Kopassus, was stationed in East Timor in 1996 and 1997 and again in 1999, where he was Intelligence Assistant to the Kopassus Commander. Kopassus played a key role in organizing the militia in East Timor at that time.
Current Brimob Commander Police General Inspector Sylvanus Wenas was accused, along with others, of gross violations of human rights in an attack on a student hostel in Abepura, West Papua, in 2000. Several times this year, Brimob attacked the Kingmi Church in Jayapura, West Papua.
A report commissioned by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights states that Brimob officers committed most of the violations of human rights by police in East Timor in 1999. Brimob was involved in massacres in Liquiça in April and at the Suai cathedral in September and an attack on the UN compound in early September.
In all cases, senior Kopassus and Brimob personnel have not been brought to justice.
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John M. Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
National Coordinator, East Timor & Indonesia Action Network
Donate at http://etan.org/etan/donate.htm
Web site: http://www.etan.org/
In addition, when possible, we'll note press releases for the Green Party because they do not get enough attention (as a political party) from left outlets that are allegedly not associated with the Democratic Party. Jason Wallace is running for Congress from Illinois' 11th district:
11th Congressional District Candidate Opposes Proposed Peotone Airport
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, December 21, 2007
Jessica Junis, Press Secretary, 309-287-5144, email@example.com
Kara Bavery, Campaign Manager, 309-532-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org
Normal, IL -- Citizens of the 11th Congressional District have a candidate that is willing to stand with them in their fight against the proposed South Suburban Airport in Will County. Jason Wallace, Green Party Candidate for the District, is adamantly opposed to the airport proposal that is concerning many constituents in eastern Will County.
His opposition to the airport came from talking with concerned citizens at the Will County fair during the summer.
"I spent a fair amount of time talking with George Ochsenfeld, President of STAND. After hearing that the people who live in Peotone and the surrounding areas are opposed to the airport, I promised I would do whatever I could to support them," said Wallace.
Shut This Airport Nightmare Down or STAND is a non-profit, 5,000-member grassroots member organization opposed to the construction of, and land banking for, the proposed Peotone airport in eastern Will County.
"STAND members are grateful that Green Party candidate Jason Wallace is supporting the position of the vast majority of eastern Will County residents, as well as all others in the district who are concerned about sprawl, environmental degradation, and higher taxes, in opposing the proposed Peotone airport," said Ochsenfeld.
Instead of building an airport, Wallace has said as the district's next Congressman he will push for alternatives to better serve the transportation needs of people in Will County. One such alternative is fast and high-speed trains that connects Midwestern cities.
"A reliable, efficient and sustainable rail system would greatly reduce air-traffic and the impact we have on the environment. This airport is absolutely unnecessary and only serves the interest of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. as well as the leadership of the Republican and Democratic parties," said Wallace in a prepared statement.
Last week, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. attached an amendment to the Defense spending bill, which essentially nullified 'Weller's Amendment' to guarantee local control of the proposed airport by the Will County Board.
"The push for this airport comes from a Congressman that doesn't even live in the district. His actions is another reflection the fact that the party leaders do not represent the best interest of the people," said Wallace.
Wallace has stated that government should be for and by the people as stated in the U.S. Constitution and this airport is very clearly not what the people want.
Several municipalities and organizations that would be affected by the airport have voted on or passed resolutions and referendums the South Suburban airport. For more information about this issue visit http://www.nothirdairport.org/, or about Jason Wallace please visit his campaign website at http://www.electwallace.us/.
Jason Wallace, Candidate U.S. House of Representatives
Illinois 11th Congressional District PO Box 708
Bloomington, IL 61702-0708
In terms of individual candidates, the only endorsement I make for any race is Cindy Sheehan for Califonria's eighth district US House of Representatives race. Community members can endorse anyone they want and do so here or in one of the newsletters. In terms of press releases on candidates the only 'vetting' done (only Greens get press releases) is three to five quick calls by me to friends who are in the Green Party asking, "Is there anything troubling you know about ___?" If not, it goes up. (If so, it doesn't.)
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com.