US Congress: Feingold Statement on Lifting the Ban on Indonesian Special Forces Unit

Feingold Statement on Lifting the Ban on Indonesian Special Forces Unit

Thursday, July 22, 2010

“I am disappointed by Secretary Gates’s announcement today about planned US cooperation with the Indonesian Army Special Forces, Kopassus, which is premature.

“A strong and effective US-Indonesia partnership is an important part of our national security strategy, but so is supporting human rights and the rule of law. Although the Indonesian Ministry of Defense has taken some positive steps, numerous problems remain, including allegations of recent abuses. Further actions are needed before we can be reasonably satisfied that Kopassus, and the Indonesian armed forces more broadly, have become a reformed institution accountable to international human rights standards and the rule of law. The ‘gradual, limited program of security cooperation activities’ described by Secretary Gates should certainly not be seen as wiping the slate clean for Kopassus – that is something that only a full accounting of the past can do.

“The US must continue to call on the Indonesian government, consistently and at all levels, to commit its armed forces, including Kopassus, to establish the primacy of human rights, civilian control and the rule of law, to take the sometimes difficult steps necessary for true reform and to address past human rights abuses – including through the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal on the student “disappearances” of the late 1990s. Any limited interaction with Kopassus should not become broader engagement without further specific and demonstrable reforms. I will continue to follow this issue closely and I strongly urge the administration to do the same.”

Senator Feingold is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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