Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

AH-64 Apache
AH-64 Apache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Press Release

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391, john@etan.org
Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078, edmcw@msn.com

March 30, 2012 – Ninety organizations today urged the U.S. government and Congress not to provide deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. Indonesia has announced that it plans to buy eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the United States.

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.”

The Indonesian military (TNI) regularly conducts “sweep operations,” involving attacks on villages where innocent villagers are forced from their homes. The groups write that “Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.” Sweep operations are now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua.

The letter was organized by the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team and signed by human rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations based in 14 countries.

Signers include: Faith-based Network on West Papua, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, International Lawyers for West Papua, Land Is Life, KontrS (Indonesia), and Pax Christi Australia. A complete list of signers can be found here: http://www.etan.org/news/2012/03helicop.htm

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns and equipped to fire missiles.

ETAN was formed in 1991. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this December 10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN’s web site: http://www.etan.org

Text of Letter

As organizations concerned about human rights in Indonesia and West Papua, we are writing to urge the U.S. government and Congress not to allow the sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many years.

The sale of this weapons system to the TNI — notwithstanding its long record of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere — would only increase the suffering of the Papuan population.

Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin told the Antara news agency, that  Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64 Apache helicopter from the United States.

The heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which can be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI’s capacity to prosecute its “sweep operations” in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to increased suffering among the  civilian populations long victimized by such operations.

TNI “sweep operations,” including several now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua, involve attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults, purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns . It is also equipped to fire missiles.

Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We urge Congress to oppose the sale of these helicopters.


3 thoughts on “Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

  1. I can recall previous reports from Puncak Jaya and Timika/Tembagapura areas where comanders or spokespersons of Indonesian Military and Poloce forces in those areas admitting having troubles and difficulties in hunting down armed group of people who they blamed for the OPM/TPN members. In the reports, the comanders or spekepersons claimed that they were not fully equiped advanced weapons and weaponry devices that can assist them detect the members of the OPM guerrilas who were protected by the undulating landforms and its environments.

    Such admissions have worked through to become matter of policy and planning by the Indonesian government and the military.

    I would strongly believe that the planned trading arrangement of the Military Helicopters (the US-Apache-64 assault helicopters) is purposefully being organised to be used against TPN?OPM in Puncah Jaya and Tembagapura. Thus reading from past experience and practise, the ones impacted heavily were tens of thousands of civilians from traditional villages in the area.

    I would hope that the US government would not continue to pursue the sale of those helicopters to the Indonesian armed forces whose human abuse record is very high in any immaginable standard.

    Ignatius

    1. We so sincerely hope not, but unfortunately you are probably more that correct. Apache gunships are Ground attack aircraft, designed for slaughtering civilians by cowards playing video games.

      This requires people to morally attack and publicly identify, vehemently but nonviolently, all those who support and profit off this inhuman, murderous and disgusting trade.

      1. Not only are 12 of these being planned for sale but 24 F-16 fighter aircraft that can bomb and strafe. It is clear that Indonesia is wanting to speed up the genocide before the world learns the truth!

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