Groups Condemn Sale of Deadly Attack Helicopters to Indonesia
August 26, 2013 - The East Timor and IndonesiaAction Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) today condemned the U.S. government's decision to approve the
sale of deadly Apache attack helicopters to Indonesia. The sale demonstrates that U.S. concern for greater respect for
human rights and justice in Indonesia are nothing more than hollow rhetoric.
The sale,announced during the visit
of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to Jakarta, ignores the appalling record of human rights violations by the
Indonesian military (TNI), which will operate this deadly weapons system.
The helicopters are offensive weapons often used in counter-insurgency campaigns.
The TNI continues to conduct military campaigns in West Papua. The military's "sweeps" and other military operations
purportedly target the few remaining, lightly-armed pro-independence guerrillas. In reality, the operations are aimed at
repressing and intimidating Papuans. The sweep operations, involve assaults on remote villages in West Papua, destroying
civilian homes, churches and public buildings and forcing civilians from their homes. These attacks drive civilians into
surrounding mountains and jungles where many have died due to a lack of food, shelter or medical assistance.
The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue "sweeping" operations,
extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.
by Indonesia's Minister of Defense that the sale does not include any conditions on the use of these weapons is
especially concerning. The TNI use of these weapons platforms will be largely unconstrained. TNI personnel are not
accountable to the civilian judicial system nor is the TNI as an institution subordinated to civilian government policy
or operational control. For decades, the TNI has drawn funding from a vast network of legal and illegal businesses
enabling it to evade even civilian government budgetary controls. Legislation to restrain the TNI has been weak or only
On Monday August 26, Secretary of Defense Hagel announced that the U.S. had closed a deal for Indonesia to buy eight
AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for a half a billion dollars. The U.S. did not attach conditions restricting their use.
The sale represents the latest step in the Pentagon's increased engagement with the TNI. In 1999, restrictions on U.S.
engagement with the Indonesia military were tightened as the TNI and its militia allies were destroying East Timor (now
Timor-Leste) following the UN-conducted referendum on independence. Through the 2000s, restrictions on engagement with
the Indonesian military were gradually lifted, even though itremained unaccountable for its past crimes
in Timor-Leste and throughout the archipelago and rights violations continue inWest Papua
Last year, ETAN and WPATcoordinated a letter signed by more than 90 organizations
urging the U.S. not to sell the deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. The groups warned that the helicopters will
escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: "Providing these helicopters would
pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians."
ETAN, formed in 1991 and advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Since its
founding, ETAN has worked to condition U.S. military assistance to Indonesia on respect for human rights and genuine
reform. See ETAN's web site:http://www.etan.org
WPAT publishes the monthlyWest Papua Report