U.S. Commander Criticizes Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ The top U.S. military commander in the Pacific criticized Indonesia’s army on Monday for its human rights record and predicted that it will be a long time before the two nations resume military cooperation.
Adm. Dennis Blair told reporters during a three-day visit to Jakarta that Indonesia’s armed forces needed to become more professional before ties _ which were cut during the East Timor crisis last year _ could resume.
``There is a long way to travel,″ he said. ``We’re looking for an across-the-board improvement.″
The United States was Indonesia’s primary supplier of weapons systems for several decades, and the two countries had an active training exchange which was severed by congressional action.
Last month, President Abdurrahman Wahid said he wanted the Indonesian military to become less reliant on Washington for the purchase of military hardware.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Indonesia’s top brass, Blair said there were two main areas the Indonesian military needed to focus on.
The first was that military personnel responsible for the rape, murder and destruction in East Timor last September be brought to justice, he said.
Indonesian human rights investigators lay ultimate blame for the violence on several Indonesian generals, including former military chief Gen. Wiranto, but no charges have been laid. Wiranto like many Indonesians uses only one name.
Blair said the resumption of military links was also conditional on a peaceful solution being found to the refugee crisis in Indonesian-controlled West Timor.
U.N. officials estimate there are still about 120,000 East Timorese sheltering in squalid camps dotted across West Timor and that many of the refugees are being prevented from returning home due to violence and intimidation at the hands of anti-independence militias.