Tag Archives: Obama

It is time to put talk into action: Aust Parliament speech by Jane Prentice MP (Ryan)

Hansard Transcript of  Speech given to the Australian Parliament House of Representatives on Monday November 21,  by Jane Prentice MP (Ryan), Liberal Party of Australia.

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (10:42): Like others in this chamber I applaud the sentiment and goals expressed by President Obama in his address to the Australian parliament last week. His words do bear repeating, so I quote:

As two global partners, we stand up for the security and dignity of people around the world.

President Obama said that the larger purpose of his visit to this region was ‘our efforts to advance security, prosperity and human dignity across the Asia-Pacific’ and that ‘Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress’. He went on to say:

We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and people are upheld. … Every nation will chart its own course, yet it is also true that certain rights are universal. … As two great democracies we speak up for these freedoms when they are threatened. We partner with emerging democracies, like Indonesia, to help strengthen the institutions upon which good governance depends. This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific — security, prosperity and dignity for all.

As I said in my maiden speech, in our region we have a particular responsibility to assist our developing friends, not in a patronising way but with a genuine hand of friendship and support. The developed world has not found a successful form of providing aid to our neighbours, in much the same way that we have much to learn in helping our own Indigenous Australians. In both cases we must persist, because if we fail we let our neighbours down—and, indeed, our first Australians.

I then went on to mention some of the many issues confronting our nearest neighbours. It is against this background that it is important that we acknowledge the respect for human rights that must be accorded to all people.

The people of West Papua are facing challenges that in many ways flow from colonial times, when lines were drawn on maps to suit the interests of colonial powers. As a country we have for more than 100 years been prepared to send our service men and women all over the world, not only into conflict situations but also as peacekeepers. Yet here, literally on our doorstep, we continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of one of our nearest neighbours.

On that note, with everyone focused on the Asia-Pacific region, as President Obama said, we must stand up for the fundamental rights of every human being. In particular I look to our neighbours in West Papua. Mark my words, history will judge us very harshly. Indeed, we will stand condemned for our lack of action and our lack of compassion. I call on the government in its close partnership with President Obama to ensure basic human rights and freedoms for the people of West Papua. It is time to put talk into action.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
PROOF
CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS
Asia-Pacific Region
SPEECH
Monday, 21 November 2011
BY AUTHORITY OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

WPAT: Torture video reveals "Indonesia's Abu Ghraib" on eve of Obama visit

WPAT: Torture video reveals “Indonesia’s Abu Ghraib” on eve of Obama visit

Contact: Ed McWilliams (WPAT) +1-575-648-2078

October 19, 2010 –  A new video shows the torture of helpless men in the Indonesian-ruled territory of West Papua. Monitoring groups are already describing the footage as “Indonesia’s Abu Ghraib.”The video reveals indisputably Indonesian security force brutality, and raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s decision to embrace cooperation with Indonesian security forces engaged in active and ongoing torture.

The video, available at http://material.ahrchk.net/video/AHRC-VID-012-2010-Indonesia.html, is the second in recent months to offer graphic footage of Indonesian  to offer graphic footage of Indonesian security force torture of Papuans. In it, a Papuan man is held to the ground while a hot stick, still smoldering from a fire, is held against his genitals. A plastic bag is wrapped around his head several times, a rifle held against him. Another man has a large knife held against him while he pleads: “I’m just an ordinary civilian, please…” One of his interrogators responds: “I’ll cut your throat… Do not lie, I will kill you! Burn the penis!” The video appears to have been taken on the cell phone of one interrogator. Although the interrogators are dressed in plain clothes, they speak in Javanese and in Indonesian with non-Papuan accents. Plain clothes dress is common for Indonesian security forces in West Papua. The techniques used mean they are almost certainly trained security personnel in the Indonesian army or police. The dialect of the victims places them in the Puncak Jaya region, where security forces are accused of repeated rights abuses.

The extreme brutality revealed in this footage is not new. What is new is that there is now additional video evidence of the brutality suffered by Papuans for nearly five decades. The international community can now clearly witness the indisputably harsh reality of life for Papuans. While Indonesia continues on the path of democratization and peaceful resolution of disputes, one region is sent on the opposite path: towards ongoing military domination, widespread suppression of political activity, and routine use of torture and other severe violations of basic human rights. In West Papua, the brutal and unaccountable Indonesian military and its accomplices, the militarized police ( Brimob), special forces ( Kopassus) and “anti-terror” force (Detachment 88) continue to operate with impunity under the old dictatorship’s rules: peaceful dissent is criminalized; civil society leaders are humiliated and intimidated and the international community is precluded from any effective monitoring of conditions in this besieged community.

Thanks to the courage of Papuan human rights advocates in the face of harsh security measures designed to silence them, the world periodically has been witness to the harsh rule of West Papua. In the past, the faith in international justice and humanity demonstrated by these courageous Papuans has been betrayed by the international community’s deference to the Indonesian government’s insistence that neither its course nor rule there not be challenged. Numerous governments have placed the territorial integrity of Indonesia and the desire to support its democratization process first. In the process, however, they have abandoned what could have been constructive efforts to uphold human rights in West Papua, which continue to be systematically violated.

Geopolitical and commercial goals led the U.S. government to ignore Suharto dictatorship atrocities targeting its own people and the people of East Timor for decades. President Bill Clinton acknowledged this when East Timor gained its independence in 2002, saying: “I don’t believe America or any of the other countries were sufficiently sensitive in the beginning and for a long time, a long time before 1999, going all the way back to the ’70s, to the suffering of the people of East Timor.” It was the suffering of the people of East Timor that led to Congress deciding to suspend military cooperation with Indonesia.

The system of security force rule and repression of peaceful dissent has been dismantled in much of Indonesia, but the same security system and the same systematic human rights violations continue in West Papua today. Such stopgap solutions as “special autonomy” have been clearly rejected by the Papuan people. Despite the continued human rights violations, the Obama administration has continued the Bush administration’s policy of support to the Indonesian security forces. It has continued support to the Indonesian military through the IMET program, and support through the Anti-Terror Assistance Program to the notorious Detachment 88 of the Indonesian National Police, credibly accused of torture and other rights violations. It has resumed cooperation with the Indonesian special forces (Kopassus) notwithstanding that unit’s  decades-old record of human rights abuse including recent, credible accounts of brutality targeting Papuan civilians.  In so doing the Obama Administration, like its predecessors, has wittingly or unwittingly made itself complicit in the repression now underway in West Papua.

The United States, under President John F. Kennedy, was responsible for the transfer of West Papua to Indonesian rule. In that act, the United States made itself co-responsible for the outcome of its actions. Successive administrations have not been sufficiently sensitive to the ongoing human rights violations, including torture to this day, which resulted from Indonesian rule.

President Obama’s upcoming visit to Indonesia offers an opportunity to end the silence on West Papua, and to craft new policies that advance human rights rather than lending support to human rights violators. Information about the ongoing human rights violations in West Papua was heard on September 22 by the House of Representatives Sub-committee on Asia, the Pacific.

The Obama administration should:

    Insist upon an investigation and prosecution of those who recently tortured Papuans in Puncak Jaya

    Seek an investigation by relevant United Nations human rights rapporteurs of this and other instances of torture in West Papua Suspend cooperation with Indonesian security forces accused of systematic human rights violations, including Detachment 88 and the Brimob (Mobile Brigade) of the National Police and the Indonesian special forces (Kopassus) Call for full and open access for journalists, humanitarian assistance personnel including the International Committee of the red Cross and other international monitors to all of West Papua Seek meetings between President Obama and Papuan human rights and civil society leaders during his visit to Indonesia Call upon the Indonesian government to carry out an internationally facilitated, senior-level dialogue process with Papuan officials and civil society designed to resolve the Papuan conflict peacefully, as was done in Aceh province

-30-

Posted with additional links: http://etan.org/news/2010/10video.htm

Groups Urge Obama Administration to Reject Dino Patti Djalal as Indonesia's Ambassador

Groups Urge Obama Administration to Reject Dino Patti Djalal as Indonesia’s Ambassador

Contact: John M. Miller  (ETAN) 718-596-7668
Ed McWilliams (WPAT) 401-568-5845 (until Sept. 21), 575-648-2078 (after)

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) are deeply concerned about the appointment of Dino Patti Djalal as the Indonesia’s Ambassador-designate to the United States. We urge President Obama to reject his credentials and urge Jakarta to send an Ambassador untainted by complicity with human rights violations and with greater credibility.

Ambassador Djalal was a defender of the Suharto dictatorship, and his career involved him in brutal repression. While defending the Indonesian security forces in East Timor (now independent Timor-Leste), he would often attack human rights investigators and organizations. He sought to portray the violence there as civil conflict among East Timorese, rather than resulting from repression of resistance to Indonesia’s illegal and brutal occupation.

The Suharto dictatorship and the Habibie government that followed promoted Djalal as Indonesia’s leading “expert” on East Timor. During that time, Djalal reportedly had close links with the Indonesian army’s intelligence agency.

In 1999, during and after East Timor’s historic UN-organized vote on independence, Djalal was based in East Timor as the spokesperson for the Satgas P3TT (the Indonesian “Task Force for Popular Consultation in East Timor”).  In that capacity he took the lead in the Task Force’s political initiatives.

As Task Force spokesman, Djalal quickly emerged as its leading political heavyweight, taking the lead in leveling false accusations against UNAMET (UN Assistance Mission for East Timor). In his official capacity Djalal also served as flack for the militias created and directed by the Indonesian military to terrorize the East Timorese population in the run-up to August 1999 vote. Those militias and their Indonesian security force allies repeatedly attacked East Timorese civilians, burning villages and assaulting churches in attempt to frighten the population into voting against independence. The militias also sought to intimidate the UN teams sent to prepare for the vote and the international media and humanitarian organizations in the country to monitor the process.

As international alarm over the excesses of the militias and their Indonesian military sponsors grew, Djalal played a key role in seeking to deflect criticism of the militias and the military.

Djalal denied the reality that militias were arming in the run-up to the vote and sought  to obscure militia and military atrocities against civilians in East Timor. He was a dogged critic of international journalists and human right organizations who sought to report these atrocities.

In the wake of East Timor’s overwhelming vote for independence, the Indonesian security forces and their militias rampaged throughout country exacting revenge for the people’s rejection of Jakarta’s rule. The militia and military attacks destroyed vital infrastructure and buildings. They targeted UN facilities and personnel, as well as international journalists, diplomats and other observers. Djalal was key in Jakarta’s unsuccessful efforts to deny the  reality of the which cost the lives of approximately 1,500 East Timorese, displaced two-thirds of its population, and destroyed 75 percent of East Timor’s infrastructure.

In diplomatic assignments in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada, Djalal focused on defending the role of the unreformed and abusive Indonesian military, including targeting of its foreign critics. More recently he has served as Presidential spokesperson.

Ambassador Djalal’s past as an apologist for the worst behavior of the Indonesian military and its minions augers poorly for international efforts, especially in the United States, to press for  justice and accountability for past human rights crimes and genuine reform of Indonesia’s security forces. As the situation in West Papua becomes increasingly tense, will Djalal serve as Indonesia’s Washington-based apologist for continued repression?

In the interest of promoting strengthened U.S.-Indonesian relations based on respect for human rights, ETAN and WPAT believe that the U.S. government should not accept Djalal’s credentials as Indonesia’s Ambassador to the United States.

http://etan.org/news/2010/09djalal.htm

HRW: US Resumes Military Assistance to Abusive Force Obama Administration Lifts Ban Despite Military’s Lack of Reform, Accountability

Reposting from HRW
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/07/22/indonesia-us-resumes-military-assistance-abusive-force

Indonesia: US Resumes Military Assistance to Abusive Force
Obama Administration Lifts Ban Despite Military’s Lack of Reform, Accountability
July 22, 2010

Related Materials:
Letter to US Department of Defense Regarding US Military Assistance to Indonesia
Letter to US Departments of Defense and State Regarding US Plans to Reengage with Indonesia’s Special Forces
“What Did I Do Wrong?”

The Obama administration has just failed a key test. This is not the way to encourage reform with a military that has yet to demonstrate a genuine commitment to accountability for serious human rights abuses. This decision rewards Kopassus for its intransigence over abuses and effectively betrays those in Indonesia who have fought for decades for accountability and justice.
Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Obama administration’s decision to lift a more than decade-long ban on US military assistance to Indonesia’s abusive special forces seriously undermines its commitment to promoting respect for human rights in Indonesia and weakens US standards for military cooperation globally, Human Rights Watch said today. The US secretary of defense, Robert Gates, announced a limited program of engagement with the elite force, Komando Pasukan Khusus (Kopassus), while in Jakarta today.

Kopassus has been responsible for numerous serious human rights abuses – including killings, enforced disappearances, and torture – since the 1990s. The Indonesian government’s failure to remove Kopassus soldiers convicted of serious abuses from the military, and its recent appointment of officers credibly linked with abuses to leadership posts within Kopassus and the Defense Ministry made repealing the ban particularly inappropriate, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Obama administration has just failed a key test. This is not the way to encourage reform with a military that has yet to demonstrate a genuine commitment to accountability for serious human rights abuses,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “This decision rewards Kopassus for its intransigence over abuses and effectively betrays those in Indonesia who have fought for decades for accountability and justice.”

Defense Secretary Gates said that initial reengagement with Kopassus “will take place within the limits of US law and do[es] not signal any lessening of the importance we place on human rights and accountability.”

The administration has apparently detailed to the Indonesian government various criteria to resume interactions with Kopassus: that personnel convicted of human rights violations be removed from the special forces; that the military and Kopassus pledge to cooperate with future civilian or military investigations and prosecutions of human rights abuses; that anyone convicted of human rights abuses in the future be prohibited from serving in the military; and that personnel credibly alleged to have committed human rights abuses in the future be suspended pending an investigation. However, Human Rights Watch noted that those criteria are not currently being met, and in any case, are far from adequate to address the problem.

“These standards disregard the difficulty of prosecuting Indonesian military personnel for even the most serious abuses,” said Richardson.

The Indonesian military justice system presently has exclusive jurisdiction over military personnel except in cases in which they are accused of genocide or crimes against humanity, or are alleged to have committed crimes with civilian accomplices. Human Rights Watch pointed to the structural weaknesses of the military court system, which has repeatedly failed to investigate and adequately prosecute alleged abusers in the past, in an April 2010 letter to a key Indonesian lawmaker urging him to support a bill that would transfer jurisdiction over such cases to civilian courts.

“The Indonesian justice system rarely vigorously investigates or prosecutes anyone from the military, so forces like Kopassus will likely still be able to commit abuses with impunity and still meet the Obama administration’s standards,” said Richardson. “It’s hard to see the administration’s decision as anything other than a victory for abusive militaries worldwide.”

The US government cut off all aid to the Indonesian military in 1999 as a result of widespread human rights violations in East Timor and has refused to resume aid to Kopassus in particular because of ongoing concerns about its record and lack of accountability. Human Rights Watch has acknowledged important human rights improvements in Indonesia since the end of the authoritarian Suharto regime, but has also expressed ongoing concerns that security sector reform in Indonesia has stalled in critical areas, such as accountability for human rights violations.

Kopassus members have been implicated in serious human rights abuses, including abducting and “disappearing” student activists in 1997-98, launching a scorched-earth campaign and forming deadly militia forces in East Timor in 1999, and abducting and killing Papuan activist and traditional leader Theys H. Eluay in 2001. In 2003, Human Rights Watch documented allegations that Kopassus soldiers engaged in torture during military operations in Aceh. A 2009 Human Rights Watch report entitled “What Did I Do Wrong?” found that Kopassus soldiers were engaging in a pattern of arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of civilians in Merauke, Papua.

In none of these cases did the Indonesian military take sufficient steps to ensure that perpetrators were held accountable. A series of ad hoc trials of soldiers implicated in crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999 ultimately failed to convict a single defendant. A number of the soldiers convicted by a military court for the student disappearances remained in the Indonesian military as of 2007, and two remained in Kopassus until March 2010. One of the seven Kopassus members convicted of mistreatment and battery leading to Eluay’s death, Colonel Tri Hartomo, was later promoted to a senior position in the Kopassus leadership and as of March 2010 serves elsewhere in the Indonesian military. Kopassus has denied the allegations in “What did I do Wrong,” and to Human Rights Watch’s knowledge has not sanctioned any of the soldiers implicated in the misconduct documented in the report.

In April 2010, Col. Nugroho Widyo Utomo, who has been credibly accused of involvement in serious human rights abuses in East Timor as the commander of the Combined Intelligence Task Force in 1998, was appointed to the position of deputy commander of Kopassus. Widyo Utomo is alleged to have had an active role in establishing the militias that the Indonesian military used to intimidate, harass, and kill an estimated 1,400 East Timorese suspected of supporting independence from Indonesia in the run-up to a 1999 referendum – the events that prompted the United States to impose its ban on all aid to the Indonesian military. Widyo Utomo’s appointment follows the January 2010 appointment of Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, who was implicated in the 1997-98 student disappearances, abuses in East Timor in 1999, and the Santa Cruz Massacre in East Timor in 1991, to the position of deputy defense minister by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“The Indonesian government’s recent appointment of two individuals implicated in the very abuses that led the US to cut off aid in the first place to senior positions within Kopassus and the Defense Ministry shows that it is not serious about reform, and the Obama administration ignores this at its peril,” said Richardson.

The debate over resuming US assistance to Kopassus began in early 2010, prior to President Barack Obama’s then-planned trip to Indonesia. In response to initial demands made by the administration, the Indonesian government shifted at least three officers previously convicted of human rights abuses from Kopassus to other positions within the Indonesian military and stated, through an interview by the minister of defense to an English-language newspaper, that soldiers found to have committed genocide or crimes against humanity would be suspended and questioned, and if found responsible by the military, would be brought before a civilian court. The US government appears to have considered these steps satisfactory to ensure future accountability, even though there are no judicial mechanisms sufficiently robust and independent to reliably deliver on the necessary kind of investigations or prosecutions envisioned under the plan.

Human Rights Watch called on the Obama administration to insist that more stringent and systemic standards be met prior to the resumption of training for security forces.

Those include:

* encouraging passage of legislation in the Indonesian parliament that would transfer the prosecution of abuses committed by members of the military against civilians to civilian courts;
* that the military should permanently discharge personnel convicted of serious human rights abuses;
* that the government adopt transparent measures to ensure credible, impartial, and timely investigations into all future allegations of human rights abuse; and that
* President Yudhoyono should establish an ad hoc tribunal to investigate the enforced disappearance of student activists in 1997-98, as Indonesia’s House of Representatives recommended in September 2009.

“The Obama administration’s decision to start training Kopassus now risks undermining the limited progress towards professionalism that the Indonesian military has made thus far,” said Richardson. “The US is rewarding Indonesia for blocking justice, which sends the worst possible message for the future.”

Background:

Limitations mandated by the US Congress on providing training to foreign military forces under what is known as the “Leahy Law” bar the US from providing training, in the absence of corrective steps, to military units that are credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights.

In a February 4, 2010 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Human Rights Watch outlined three key steps Indonesia should take to address accountability for past and future abuses by Kopassus prior to resuming engagement with the force. First, the military should permanently discharge personnel convicted of serious human rights abuses. Second, it should adopt transparent measures to ensure credible, impartial, and timely investigations into all future allegations of human rights abuse. Third, President Yudhoyono should establish an ad hoc tribunal to investigate the enforced disappearance of student activists in 1997-98, as Indonesia’s House of Representatives recommended in September 2009.

In March 2010 four prominent Indonesian nongovernmental organizations called on the US to refrain from reengaging with Kopassus until it investigated past human rights abuses involving Kopassus, including by establishing the ad hoc court on the student disappearances, and took action to ensure that similar abuses would not occur. In a May 2010 letter, 13 members of the US Congress, including Senators John Kerry and Patrick Leahy, wrote to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates expressing serious concerns regarding their intention to resume training Kopassus and calling for prior consultation with Congress before such engagement began to ensure it met the requirements of US law. The letter also called for US government officials to encourage Indonesian legislators to enact a bill that would give the civilian courts the power to hear cases involving human rights offenses committed by members of the military and to condition US reengagement on the passage of such legislation.

Human Rights Watch has regularly raised concerns regarding the US government’s ability to effectively vet and monitor elements of Kopassus, and particularly its counter-terrorism unit, in a March, 2010 letter to Secretaries Clinton and Gates. Human Rights Watch also urged the Obama administration to refrain from providing unconditional assistance to Kopassus until Indonesia has adopted a number of structural reforms to address Kopassus’ lack of accountability, including making genuine progress in eliminating all forms of military business; launching renewed investigations into other serious human rights abuses in which security services have been implicated, such as the 2004 murder of Indonesian human rights activist Munir bin Said Thalib; and enacting legislation allowing civilian courts to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by military personnel against civilians.

ETAN Condemns U.S. Plan to Get Back in Bed with Indonesia's Kopassus Killers

ETAN Condemns U.S. Plan to Get Back in Bed with Indonesia’s Kopassus Killers
July 22, 2010 – The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) today condemned the Obama administration’s decision to resume engagement with Indonesia’s notorious Kopassus special forces.

“Slipping back into bed with Kopassus is a betrayal of the brutal unit’s many victims in Timor-Leste, West Papua and throughout Indonesia. It will lead to more people to suffer abuses,” said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. “Working with Kopassus, which remain unrepentant about its long history of terrorizing civilians, will undermine efforts to achieve justice and accountability for human rights crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste (East Timor).”

“For years, the U.S. military provided training and other assistance to Kopassus, and when the U.S. was most involved Kopassus crimes were at their worst. While this assistance improved the Indonesian military’s deadly skills, it did nothing to improve its behavior,” Miller added.

“Engagement with Kopassus would violate the Leahy Law, which prohibits military assistance to units with unresolved human rights violations,” said Miller. “Even the previous Bush State Department’s legal counsel thought so, ruling that the Leahy prohibition applied to Kopassus as a whole.”

U.S. officials, speaking to the New York Times, distinguished between soldiers who were “only implicated, not convicted’ in human rights crimes. Administration officials have said that some Kopassus soldiers convicted of crimes no longer served with the unit, however many of them remain on active duty, including Lt. Col. Tri Hartomo, convicted by a military court of the murder of Papuan leader Theys Eluay in 2001.

The official American Forces Press Service wrote that a “senior defense official said Indonesia has pledged that any Kopassus member who is credibly accused of a human rights violation will be suspended pending an investigation, will be tried in a civilian court, and will be removed from the unit if convicted.” Legislation transferring members of military to civilian courts for trials has yet to pass.

“The problem remains that the Indonesian military (TNI) as a whole and Kopassus in particular rarely take accusations of human rights violations seriously and few end up in any court,” said ETAN’s Miller. “Engaging Kopassus with only token concessions will not encourage reform, respect for rights or accountability. It may do the opposite.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced in Jakarta that the U.S. “will begin a gradual, limited program of security cooperation activities” with Kopassus. U.S. officials told the media that “there would be no immediate military training,” However, Gates did not say exactly what criteria will be used to decide if “to expand upon these initial steps [which] will depend upon continued implementation of reforms within Kopassus” and the TNI.

Background

Engagement with Kopassus has been opposed by human rights and victims associations in Indonesia, Timor-Leste and internationally. It has been debated within the Obama administration and in Congress.

In May 2010, 13 senior members of Congress wrote the Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Clinton concerning plans to cooperate with Kopassus. The letter called for “a reliable vetting process critical… for identifying Kopassus officials who have violated human rights” and said “the transfer of jurisdiction over human rights crimes committed by members of the military to civilian courts should be a pre-condition for engagement with Kopassus.” Legislation to transfer members of the military to civilian courts has long been stalled. Trials of some soldiers before ad-hoc human rights courts, such as on East Timor, have resulted in acquittals.

Kopassus troops have been implicated in a range of human rights violations and war crimes in Aceh, West Papua, Timor-Leste and elsewhere. Although a few special forces soldiers have been convicted of the kidnapping of activists prior to the fall of the Suharto dictatorship and the 2001 murder of Theys Eluay, the perpetrators of the vast majority of human rights crimes continue to evade prosecution. Kopassus and other troops indicted by UN-backed prosecutors in Timor-Leste for crimes committed in 1999 during Timor’s independence referendum remain at large.

Kopassus was involved in Timor-Leste from the killings of five Australian-based journalists at Balibo in 1975 prior to Indonesia’s full scale invasion through its destructive withdrawal in 1999. Kopassus soldiers are alleged to have been involved in the 2002 ambush murder of three teachers (including two from the U.S.) near the Freeport mine in West Papua. The crimes of Kopassus are not only in the past. A Human Rights Watch report published last year documents how Kopassus soldiers “arrest Papuans without legal authority, and beat and mistreat those they take back to their barracks.” A report by journalist Allan Nairn describes security force – including a U.S.-trained Kopassus general – involvement in the killing of activists in Aceh last year. http://www.etan.org/news/2010/03nairn.htm

The leaders of Kopassus have consistently rejected calls to hold it accountable. In April 2010 at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the unit’s founding, Kopassus commander Maj. Gen. Lodewijk Paulus called allegations of past rights violations a “psychological burden.” He told The Jakarta Globe “Honestly, it has become a problem and people just keep harping on them. It’s not fair.”

Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, who served with Kopassus and is accused of human rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere, remains as deputy defense minister. His position is being challenged in court by victims of human rights violations in the 1998 Jakarta riots and the 1997/1998 kidnapping of student and political activists.

In 2005, the Bush administration exercised a national security waiver that allowed for full engagement with the Indonesian military for the first time since the early 1990s. The conditions for U.S. military engagement, which the Bush administration abandoned, included prosecution of those responsible for human rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere and implementation of reforms to enhance civilian control of the Indonesian military. The Bush administration waited until 2008 to propose restarting U.S. training of Kopassus, which was suspended in 1998. The State Department’s legal counsel reportedly ruled that the 1997 ban on training of military units with a history of involvement in human rights violations, known as the ‘Leahy law,’ applied to Kopassus as a whole and the training did not go forward.

ETAN was founded in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for Indonesian-occupied Timor-Leste. Since the beginning, ETAN has worked to condition U.S. military assistance to Indonesia on respect for human rights and genuine reform. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information, see ETAN’s web site: http://www.etan.org.

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Thank you for your support.

John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391
Email john@etan.org Skype: john.m.miller
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