The U.S. House of Representatives today voted unanimously (419-0) in favor of a motion sponsored by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to limit U.S. training for the Indonesian military to an expanded human rights curriculum. "This measure speaks forcefully to the actions of the Indonesian military and the paramilitary units in East Timor," said Pelosi. "It is important to continue to send a strong signal to the Indonesians, despite the apparent progress on allowing a United Nations peacekeeping force into East Timor."
The Defense Department spends about $50 million annually on the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which provides a wide range of training to the armed forces of more than 125 countries around the world. Over the past decade, Congress has insisted that new programs, called Expanded IMET, be developed for dealing with civil-military relations and human rights awareness. Indonesia received $550,000 for IMET in 1999, while $400,000 has been requested for 2000.
"The people of East Timor chose independence and democracy, and the consequences of that decision have been dire for the East Timorese," said Pelosi. "It is increasingly clear that the Indonesian military was involved or, at a minimum, did nothing to stop the human catastrophe that unfolded after the vote for independence. Restricting IMET to a human rights curriculum tells the Indonesian military that the U.S. Congress finds its behavior unacceptable."
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