The Clinton Administration has announced plans to hold joint military exercises with Indonesia. Last September, Clinton suspended all ties with Indonesia in wake of the rampage by right-wing paramilitary groups and the Indonesian military (TNI) in East Timor after the Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia. The Clinton Administration claims that the TNI has cleaned up its act; however, reports are still surfacing of TNI atrocities in Aceh province, Irian Jaya, and West Papua. In addition, the TNI still supports right-wing militias in West Timor, where a large number of Timorese refugees are still living in misery, waiting to be repatriated to East Timor. And efforts to prosecute those responsible for crimes during the rampage have been stymied by the participation of military personnel in the so-called “civilian” investigations.
Nevertheless, the U.S. government is planning to start a CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness Training) military exercise with the TNI in July or August. The CARAT will involve simulated amphibious invasions of Indonesian islands. Last August, a number of Indonesian officers went directly from last year’s CARAT exercises to East Timor to participate in the post-electoral rampage. Journalist Allan Nairn, speaking to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights on May 11, said: “One of these officers, Lt. Col. (later Col.) Willem, helped coordinate the Indonesian naval forces in CARAT and then went to Dili where he served as a senior official in KOREM military headquarters, the very base from which the Aitarak militias staged their terror raids during late September. I saw this first hand, since I was a prisoner in KOREM and was interrogated by Col. Willem.” Willem has recently been promoted to head the personal staff of Admiral Widodo, the national TNI commander. For more information, contact the East Timor Action Network at 1-718-596-7668, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.etan.org.
On June 19, three British women wielded bolt-cutters to dismantle a new high-security fence around the grounds of the U.S. National Security Agency Space-War Spy Base at Menwith Hill in England. The women are: Anne Lee (who has campaigned against the base for years at the Menwith Hill Women’s Peace Camp), Helen John (from the Menwith Hill campaign and a member of Trident Ploughshares 2000), and Angie Zelter (also a member of Ploughshares). Helen John said, “I’m doing this because I oppose the threat that Star Wars poses to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Outer Space Treaty.” Said Angie Zelter: “This base plays a key role in NATO military intelligence. Even if we get rid of Trident tomorrow, they are still planning to have new nuclear-powered weapons in space. Ballistic missile defense undermines the entire international legal order. The Americans are just running ahead without consulting anyone.” Menwith Hill may become one of many key sites for the expensive, but unworkable anti-ballistic missile system. Currently, the Menwith Hill base houses Echelon computers which are used in domestic and international surveillance and economic espionage. The base also downloads information from satellites that can be fed to the targeting systems for cruise missiles and other weapons. For more information, contact the Menwith Hill Women’s Peace Camp(aign): 011-1-943-468593 or Trident Ploughshares 2000: 011-1-324-880744.
The indigenous U’wa people of Colombia have been fighting against an oil exploration project on their ancestral lands. The company involved is Occidental Petrolium, a U.S. corporation. The 11th Circuit Court of Bogota had issued an injunction to stop the project, but Occidental appealed to a higher court, which has now overturned the injunction. Occidental is set to begin construction of its facilities in the “Gibraltar 1” area in northeastern Colombia. The U’wa, however, remain undeterred; they in turn have appealed the ruling to a higher court. The U’wa have gained the support of several international human rights groups and environmental organizations. U’wa leaders have also called upon members of the U.S. Congress to put pressure on Colombian President Andres Pastrana to halt the Occidential project. To contact your representative, call the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or look your representative up on the Internet: www.house.gov.