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US moves to give support to Indonesia’s Kopassus special force.

Kopassus: The elite Indonesian forces used in Timor and Papuan colonialism examined in a controversial new book. Photo: Kopassus

Kopassus: The elite Indonesian commando force used against indigenous peoples of Timor Leste and West Papua. (Photo by Kopassus.)

Report – By PMC Newsdesk.

The United States has decided to re-engage with Indonesia’s elite commandos the Kopassus at a time when the special force is allegedly committing oppression, human rights abuses, and killings against West Papua’s indigenous peoples.

The Obama Administration this week agreed to “gradual and limited” engagement with Kopassus ending a ten year moratorium that prevented the US from giving assistance to the organisation.

The decision has caused outrage among human rights advocates who have attempted to draw the US, Australia, and New Zealand attention to the plight of West Papuans. Indonesia’s military TNI force, provincial police, and Kopassus have banned independent media and Non-Government-Organisations from observing the oppression these forces have been using against the West Papuan people.

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) stated this week: “The U.S. Administration’s decision to resume cooperation with the most criminal and unreformed element of the Indonesian military removes critical international pressure for reform and professionalization of the broader Indonesian military.

“It signals to Indonesian human rights advocates who have born the brunt of security force intimidation that they stand alone in their fight for respect for human rights and genuine reform in Indonesia.”

The Government of Vanuatu has also moved to expose atrocities going on inside West Papua’s borders. Vanuatu’s Parliament this month committed its Prime Minister to seek agreement from other Pacific Island leaders, including New Zealand and Australia, to deploy an observer team to West Papua to investigate alleged human rights abuses. The call will be made at this year’s Pacific Islands Forum in Port Vila in August.

There has been no indication of agreement or otherwise from other Pacific governments, despite indications urgency is required to ensure further oppression, politically motivated arrests and murder are curbed.

West Papua has considerable mineral resource, and Indonesia and the United States have considerable mining interests in the Melanesian island, including the Freeport gold mine.

WPAT’s statement follows:

    Statement by the West Papua Advocacy Team regarding the US Government’s decision to resume cooperation with the Indonesian special forces (Kopassus)

    The decision of the Obama Administration to begin “gradual and limited” engagement with the Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) ignores more than a decade-old, bi-partisan, bi-cameral Congressional consensus opposing assistance to that organization.

    Opposition to U.S. military cooperation with Kopassus is based on that unit’s undisputed record of human rights abuse, criminality and unaccountability before the law. U.S. Administration claims that the organization has recently adopted a reform course is belied by credible independent reporting that Kopassus continues to abuse human rights with impunity. A June 2009 Human Rights Watch report detailed Kopassus abuse of civilians in Merauke in the troubled province of West Papua.

    Administration claims that those Kopassus personnel “convicted” of human rights abuse have been removed from the organization ignores the reality that the impunity enjoyed by Kopassus personnel for decades has ensured that only a handful of Kopassus personnel have ever faced justice in a credible criminal court. In a rare example of judicial action, seven Kopassus officers were convicted of the 2001 murder of the leading Papuan political figure, Theys Eluay. Of the seven convicted of what the judge in the case termed a “torture-murder,” all remain on active duty after serving brief sentences (the longest being three and one half years imprisonment). Six left Kopassus but one remains in the organization.

    Administration assurances that any Kopassus candidate for U.S. training will undergo “vetting” by the State Department ignores past failures of the State Department to screen out Kopassus rights abusers and criminals.

    The Administration announcement correctly notes that since the fall of the dictator Suharto, with whose military the U.S. military maintained close ties, Indonesia has been on a democratic course. But the Administration fails to acknowledge that the gravest threat to ongoing democratic progress is the Indonesian military which continues to evade civilian control. Despite 2004 legislative requirements that the military divest itself of its vast empire of legal and illegal businesses by 2009, the military retains this source of off-budget funding.

    Kopassus and other military personnel continue to enjoy impunity before the law for human rights abuse and criminal activity including people trafficking and drug running as acknowledged in past U.S. State Department human rights reporting.

    The Indonesian military, and particularly Kopassus and intelligence agencies continue to repress peaceful protest, most notably targeting the people of West Papua. The military, especially Kopassus, but also the U.S.-funded “Detachment 81” and the militarized police (BRIMOB), routinely intimidate, threaten and accost Papuans who non-violently resist denial of fundamental rights, illegal expropriation of their lands and marginalization. Military and police units have repeatedly conducted purportedly anti-rebel “sweep operations” in the remote Central Highlands forcing thousands of villagers into the forests where they suffer lack of food, shelter and access to medical care. Twenty percent of Kopassus personnel (approximately 1,000 personnel) are stationed in West Papua.

    The U.S. Administration’s decision to resume cooperation with the most criminal and unreformed element of the Indonesian military removes critical international pressure for reform and professionalization of the broader Indonesian military. It signals to Indonesian human rights advocates who have born the brunt of security force intimidation that they stand alone in their fight for respect for human rights and genuine reform in Indonesia.

3 comments:

  1. Dale Lanan, 24. July 2010, 6:08

    The genocide of native people that’s going on in Indonesian territory of western half of New Guinea now enjoys the support of the United States. Like the Apache along the New Mexico, Arizona border when the area was being made ready for newcomers and miners as vacant land a culture is being destroyed and a people along with it. That culture part is what makes it genocide.. The American people really don’t know squat about what’s happening in the world. A lot of them could care less. Had US special private military contractors such as EX, now with offshore offices, been presently used to police and intimidate large swaths of the US at will people in the US some might have noticed. I doubt few would have the desire for freedom those in New Guinea now feel.

     
  2. Dominika, 26. July 2010, 7:44

    This proves Obama is not a president of the Pacific.

     
  3. Andrew Fanasia Jr, 30. July 2010, 12:48

    Can America stop talking about democracy, rights and all this other stuff they always preached,??