Tag Archives: US Foreign Policy

West Papua Report September 2013

from West Papua Advocacy Team

This is the 113th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm. Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org. Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1309wpap.htm

The Report leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to edmcw@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.

CONTENTS

This month’s PERSPECTIVE is by retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer (and West Papua Report editor) Edmund McWilliams. His analysis assesses the implications of the U.S. government “pivot” to Asia for U.S. policy regarding Indonesia and West Papua. The U.S. re-focus toward Asia and the Pacific involves closer U.S. political, security and economic ties to countries of the region. These enhanced security ties, in particular, will mean diminished U.S. government attention to human rights violations, corruption, and undemocratic behavior by regional militaries the U.S. seeks as “partners,” including Indonesia.

In “UPDATE,” we note the U.S. government’s decision to proceed with the sale of eight Apache helicopters to the Indonesian military. More than 90 NGO’s had urged the sale not go forward, due in part the likelihood that it will employed in West Papua. A “freedom flotilla” has left Australia for West Papua. Indonesian officials have threatened to arrest participants. Jakarta may renege on it pledge to invite Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group nations to visit Jakarta and West Papua. Indonesian security forces have arrested scores of Papuans who sought peacefully to assert their cultural identity.

In this month’s “CHRONICLE,” we note an open letter by the Australia West Papua Association to the Pacific Islands Forum to take up the issue of West Papua and link to an interview with Benny Wenda carried by Democracy Now!

PERSPECTIVE

Implications of the “Asia Pivot” for U.S. Policy on Indonesia
by Ed McWilliams


The U.S.’s determination to “partner” with the TNI is reminiscent of previous administration’s partnering with corrupt and abusive militaries in the service of earlier geopolitical strategies, notably during the cold war. U.S. support for rightwing military dictatorships, delayed democratic evolution in many countries and perpetuated extraordinary suffering.


Senior U.S. administration officials continue to emphasize U.S. determination to pursue a greater focus on Asia and the Pacific. The “Asia Pivot,” according to senior Pentagon and State Department officials, reflects a growing realization in Washington of burgeoning trade opportunities presented by the economic dynamism of the region. At the same time, Washington is increasingly conscious of security challenges posed by the growing power of the Chinese military, as well as territorial disputes, notably in the South China Sea.

The Obama administration has sought to implement the pivot by strengthening existing security, political and economic ties with states in the region. In the security sector, the Obama administration has built upon relationships with regional forces established during the previous administration in the context of anti-terrorism.

The Obama administration’s expansion of ties to regional military forces, in Indonesia, but also in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Burma (Myanmar) have proceeded notwithstanding well-founded concerns that these security “partners” have well-documented histories of human rights violations, corruption, and undemocratic behavior. A number of these prospective security “partners” have records of repression of minorities. Vietnamese security forces played a key role in Hanoi’s policy of ethnic cleansing of the Montagnards, who have been forcibly displaced from much of their Central Highland homelands to make way for government-subsidized Vietnamese migrants. In Burma, despite significant democratic progress, Burmese security forces continue to carry out repressive measures against tribal groups.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from left, meets with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta, Aug. 26, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

The Indonesian military (TNI) is Southeast Asia’s largest military. Thanks to a sprawling commercial empire of both legal and illegal businesses and a long history of a lack of accountability before Indonesia’s civilian court system, it remains largely beyond the control of the civilian government. It also continues to violate human rights with near impunity, as documented by the UN Human Rights Commission, international NGO human rights monitors, and even the U.S. State Department’s own annual human rights reports.

The TNI’s human rights record is most egregious in West Papua, the troubled region forcibly annexed by Indonesia in the 1960’s. That annexation proceeded absent any opportunity for the Papuan people to exercise their right of self-determination. The TNI has been the principal agent through which the Indonesian government has sought to enforce its control of the resource-rich region. The brutality of the TNI-backed occupation of West Papua, the ethnic cleansing entailed by decades of “transmigration” — government subsidized migration from within Indonesia to West Papua which has displaced Papuan peoples from their homes — and policies of malign neglect in the areas of health, education and development have raised credible charges of genocide.

The U.S. administration’s determination to partner with the TNI is reminiscent of previous administration’s partnering with corrupt and abusive militaries in the service of earlier geopolitical strategies, notably in the context of the cold war. U.S. support for the anti-communist Suharto dictatorship and with rightwing military dictatorships in Central and South America, Iran, and elsewhere, delayed democratic evolution in many countries and perpetuated extraordinary suffering.

The Obama administration’s Asia Pivot inevitably must be seen in the context of these earlier strategies which sacrificed human rights concerns, democratization, and principles of civil control of the military on the altar of security objectives. As in the past, the U.S. administration contends that closer U.S. cooperation encourages reform among its security “partners.” The military-to-military relationship with the Indonesian military during the 30-year Suharto dictatorship remained extremely close despite egregious the TNI’s human rights crimes and corruption. Indonesia’s illegal invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the subsequent occupation of that small country remained largely irrelevant to Washington’s pro-Suharto and pro-Indonesian military stance.

The saga of East Timor (now Timor-Leste), in the context of U.S. policy toward Indonesia includes a particular irony. The United States, throughout the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, accepted the occupation, maintaining that East Timor was “an integral part of Indonesia” with the caveat that “no genuine act of self-determination had taken place.” The U.S. consistently ignored Indonesia’s crimes in the territory, except when it was compelled to address them as a consequence of international media attention, such as the in the case of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. U.S. Congressional outrage and public pressure over that crime forced restrictions on U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia.  

The sad saga of West Papua contains parallels with that of East Timor. West Papua was also invaded and occupied by the Indonesian military with the backing of the U.S. The West Papuan people, like the East Timorese, have suffered extraordinary repression under Jakarta’s rule. The United States, echoing its previous stance on East Timor, has consistently stated that it regards West Papua as an “integral part” of Indonesia. The U.S. public stance on West Papua, however, differs from its previous position regarding East Timor insofar as the U.S. refuses to acknowledge that Papuans have not been afforded their right to self-determination.

It appears that this long-denied right, along with the Papuan’s right to live free from Indonesian repression, can not be accommodated in the context of Washington’s Asia Pivot. The recent sale of attack helicopters to Indonesia (see below) is the latest example of human rights concerns and fundamental civil rights, including the right to self-determination, being sacrificed on the altar of geo-political expediency.

UPDATE

U.S. Approves Sale Of Apache Helicopters to the TNI

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the sale of a squadron of eight Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI),  during a visit to Indonesia. The sale, which includes pilot training, associated radar, and maintenance support, is worth half a billion dollars over 10 years.


The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.


According to Indonesian officials, the sale includes no conditions governing how the aircraft are to be used. In the past, the U.S. government has imposed restrictions on the sale of weapons systems to the TNI as a means of reducing the possibility that those systems would be employed against civilians.

Last year, more than 90 international non-governmental organizations wrote to oppose the sale. Long standing U.S. congressional concern over the extremely poor human rights record amassed by the TNI appears not to have been taken into consideration by the U.S. administration. For over a decade, the U.S. sought to build a partnership with the Indonesian military notwithstanding that institution’s abysmal human rights record, corruption, and unwillingness to subordinate itself to civilian government control. An August 27 Jakarta Post report quotes Hagel as stating that he “welcomed the progress Indonesia has made in improving transparency and the protection of human rights.”

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team issued a joint statement condemning the sale. The groups said that “The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.” The sale of the helicopters “demonstrates that U.S. concern for greater respect for human rights and justice in Indonesia are nothing more than hollow rhetoric.”

Freedom Flotilla to Sail from Australia to West Papua

Police surrounding event in Sorong just prior to arrests of organizers (Photo: NFRPB/WPM sources)

Australian activists are sailing from Australia to Merauke in West Papua to demonstrate international concern over the denial of human and civil rights by Indonesia. The Freedom Flotilla is also as a cultural mission aimed at re-establishing millennia-old ties between the aborigine population of Australia and Papua.

Indonesia has threatened to block the flotilla by force. The flotilla, which has permission from local Papuans to land in their area, has been delayed by mechanical problems. Papuans in Merauke and elsewhere in West Papua have staged massive “welcome” demonstrations in support of the mission. In Sorong, police arrested four West Papuan leaders who organized a welcome ceremony for the flotilla.

Flotilla spokesperson Ruben Blake called Indonesian threats of arrest, force and naval interception “heavy-handed.” He noted that in the past the Indonesian government has gone to great lengths to prevent people from witnessing conditions in West Papua. He expressed concern for the safety of those participating in the peaceful mission:

“We believe that safety of a group of peaceful protesters who are going there on a cultural mission as well as a human rights mission should be respected. These threats that haven’t been ruling out the use of guns and force is a big concern. People around the world should be absolutely concerned about the safety of the people on board the boats.”

The Australian government has warned that it will not extend consular protection or assistance to flotilla participants.

Indonesia Accused of Reneging on Pledge to Invite MSG Delegation

Solomon Islands PM Lilo meets Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Photo: Prime Minister’s Office.

Rex Rumakiek, Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, accused the Indonesian government of reneging on its promise to invite a delegation of Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to visit Jakarta and West Papua. Rumakiek, whose group petitioned the recent MSG summit for West Papuan membership, told Radio Australia that rather than inviting an MSG delegation, Jakarta has resorted to inviting the MSG nations to visit individually. Rumakiek noted that the Indonesian government is seeking to divide the group, which has been seeking to formulate a united MSG position on the question of West Papua’s status. Indonesia refunded the US$171,000 cost of a recent state visit by Solomon Islands prime minister to Indonesia.

Security Forces Stage Widespread Arrests as Papuans Assert Cultural Identity

West Papua Media has reported scores of arrests of Papuans who sought to organize peaceful demonstrations commemorating August 15, “a day intended to celebrate Papuan cultural identity and demand rights to free expression be respected.” The demonstrations were billed as “cultural parades,” assertions of Papuan cultural identity in the face of what West Papua Media sources described as a “deliberate campaign of cultural suppression by the Indonesian colonial security forces.”

The parades were held on the anniversary of the 1962 New York Agreement which began the process of Indonesia’s formal take over of West Papua. The parades were also to celebrate the opening of a new Free West Papua Campaign office in The Netherlands.

Despite widely-reported police statements that they would allow the parades to go forward, waves of arrests and other intimidation prevented several from taking place. Nevertheless, the events went ahead in Jayapura, Wamena and Biak.

Opposition to ConocoPhillips

The Forum to Care for Papua’s Natural Resources is opposing plans by ConocoPhillips to explore for oil and gas in West Papua. In a press release issued in Yogyakarta, August 31, the group said that ConocoPhillips “will only aggravate symptoms of social breakdown and environmental damage, as such corporations are only interested in their own profits, and do not care about the environment and Papuan indigenous people.” According to media reports the company reiterated its plan to carry out seismic testing in Boven Digoel and Pegunungan Bintang in 2014.

CHRONICLE

Open letter to Pacific Islands Forum Leaders

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) (AWPA) has written an open letter to the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) leaders urged them to discuss the human rights situation in West Papua at the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro. Joe Collins of AWPA said, “We would like the Forum Leaders to follow the example of the MSG leaders who at their summit in Noumea, raised concerns about the human rights abuses in West Papua in their official communiqué. They also recognized the right of the West Papuan people to self-determination.”

Guardian Reviews West Papua History

The Guardian, August 29, published an article by Marni Cordell which offered a candid review of West Papua’s history. The article, “The West Papuan independence movement – a history,” notes that the Papuan struggle for self-determination continues, 40 years after a “sham ballot” through which Indonesia annexed West Papua.
 
Benny Wenda Interview

Benny Wenda, human rights defender and advocate for Papuan self-determination now living in exile in the United Kingdom, was interviewed on Democracy Now! in February, 2013. The video and full transcript of the interview were recently made available.

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1308wpap.htm

Back issues of West Papua Report

Report on the US ambassador’s meetings with various government agencies and institutions

(via Tapol) The following is a summary of two lengthy reports in Bintang Papua on 7 and 8 November about the visit earlier this month of the US ambassador Scot Marciel, to West Papua:
——-
DPRP Meetings
During discussions with members of the Papuan Provincial Legislative Assembly (DPRP), the ambassador expressed strong support for the special autonomy law enacted eleven years ago and said that the US government recognises West Papua as a part of the Republic of Indonesia.He said that his main interest was in the development programme in West Papua and to discuss possible collaboration in this process.

The deputy head  of the DPRP, Yunus Wonda, said the ambassador was keen to know what the priorities were in development and said the ambassador  was particularly interested in education and health.

He also asked about the difficulties surrounding the election of the governor which resulted in the election being delayed for two years. Yunus explained that  the problems had emerged because of a dispute in the MK (This presumably refers to the Constitutional Court – Tapol).

With regard to education, the ambassador said that the US is willing to help by providing study opportunities to young Papuans in the US.

Yunus asked the ambassador how many indigenous Papuans were now studying in the US, adding that they were keen to know the names of these people, to see whether they were indeed indigenous Papuans.

The DPRP also called on the US  to support the idea of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua. He said that they would not use this dialogue to press for independence  for Papua but were only interested in advancing the implementation of the special autonomy law.

——————

Talks with military personnel

Marciel said that the US was very impressed by the developments that had already been achieved and also with the reforms that had been made with regard to the TNI (the Indonesian army). These remarks were made during a meeting between the ambassador and senior officers of the provincial military command. On this occasion the ambassador met the chief of staff of the military command along with seven other senior officers.

In a press release issued by the US team, the ambassador referred to Freeport and asked for clarifications about the company and wanted to know whether there could be more collaboration (with the company) in education, culture and security.

The chief of staff explained that according  to Law 34/2004,  the military were now implementing ‘soft power’ in their territorial operations in Papua, and were keen to assist in speeding up development and human resources so as to ensure that West Papua would not continue to lag behind other parts of Indonesia.

In response to the ambassador’s question as to why the duties of the military command in West Papua were so much greater here than elsewhere and required a very different approach, the chief of staff said that the military were acting in accordance with their noble duties as ‘Noble Protectors of the People’  (Ksatria Pelindung  Rakyat).

————————–

MRP Meeting

During a meeting with the first deputy chairman of the Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan People’s Council) Hofni Simbiak, the ambassador said he wanted to know more about the election of the governor and to know more about governmental affairs in the Province of Papua. Hofni said that even a very large tree could be felled at any time.  Because of this, he said that he hoped that there would be more diplomatic visits to Papua so as to give guidance on leadership on the province.

He said that the ambassador’s visit was a good opportunity to discuss the gubernatorial problem, as well as the whole process of government. in the province.  He said that they were very interested in this matter so as to ensure the the common people would not be victims of this situation.

He explained that because of the continued absence of an elected governor, no budget had been produced and there was no one who could take responsibility (for finances).  This was having serious consequences for the people.  (Simbiak) said that they had urged the KPU (Electoral Commission) to discuss this matter with the provincial government and to take firm action on the matter.   He said it was extremely important for a governor to be elected because without this, the services provided by the governor were not available and this was leading to big problems for the people.

The ambassador said that the American people were aware of the difficulties regarding the governor and said: ‘We are having an election of our president in the US and face the same situation as you here in Papua because we are keen to provide help for the government here in the fields of education, health and forestry.’

—————————-

Meeting with Tito Karnavian

In a meeting with Inspector-General of the  Police Force, Tito Karnavian,  the ambassador expressed support for  the developments already achieved by the police.

The chief of police said that when they were confronted with acts of violence, they always act in accordance with the law and in a professional manner, keeping the use of violence to a minimum. He also spoke about their activities to combat corruption so as to ensure that the development budget could serve the interests of the people.

He said that the ambassador had stressed the importance of  transparency and in case of acts of abuse by the police, everything should be made public.  When he asked in what way the US could help, the chief of staff said that they could be given advice on how best to deal with demonstrations.   The second point he made was that for purposes of investigation, the difficulty is that there is no forensic laboratory in Papua.  His third point was about the need for working together especially with Bhayangkari (the organisation of wives of the military), in particular with regard to partnerships with the people.

In response, the ambassador expressed great enthusiasm and said he hoped that joint programmes would be conducted in the next four or five years.

Marciel also expressed support for the police pursuing a lenient approach and the need to avoid projecting an image of the police as being involved only in arresting and detaining people but should prioritise activities that bring them close to the people.

[Translated by TAPOL]

[COMMENT: There is no mention at all of the ambassador having met leaders of Papuan organisations such as DAP, the Council of Indigenous People, KontraS Papua, ELSHAM-Papua or other people’s organisations.]

 

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.


NGOs Say US Got it Wrong on Indonesian Human Rights

FYI

Dessy Sagita | April 11, 2011

Indonesian activists on Sunday criticized the US government for praising Indonesia’s progress on human rights, saying that the barometer used for the report could be misleading.

“I’m a bit concerned with the diplomatic statements made by some countries regarding Indonesia’s progress on human rights, because it could give people the wrong perception about what’s really happening,” Haris Azhar, coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), told the Jakarta Globe.

As in previous editions, the US State Department’s annual survey on human rights pointed to concerns in Indonesia, this year including accounts of unlawful killings in violence-torn Papua along with violations of freedom of religion.

But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while presenting on Friday the mammoth, 7,000-page global report, pointed to Indonesia as a success story.

“Indonesia boasts a vibrant free media and a flourishing civil society at the same time as it faces up to challenges in preventing abuses by its security forces and acting against religious intolerance,” she was quoted by foreign wire agencies as saying.

The survey covers the period before Islamic fanatics brutally killed three members of the Ahmadiyah sect in early February, raising questions over Indonesia’s commitment to safeguard minority rights.

The concern over Papua is primarily a reference to the torture of two civilians there last year by soldiers. They were subsequently court-martialed in January but given sentences of less than a year, a punishment slammed by the influential group Human Rights Watch as far too lenient to send a message that abuse was unacceptable.

Kontras’s Haris said both indicators presented by the US government — that Indonesia has been progressing in terms of media independence and better access for civil societies to voice their concern — were also incorrect.

“Freedom of journalism? I don’t think so. It’s still fresh in our minds that several journalists have been brutally attacked because of their reporting, some were even murdered,” he said.

“And in terms of flourishing civil societies, it’s true, non-government organizations are mushrooming, but what’s the point if human rights defenders and anticorruption activists are assaulted?” he added.

According to Kontras, in 2010 alone more than 100 human rights activists here were victimized and many of the perpetrators remain free.

And according to Reporters Without Borders, when it comes to press freedom, Indonesia ranks very low, much worse than it did several years ago when Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid was the president.

The US report in some ways echoes progress noted by New York-based Human Rights Watch in its own annual review of human rights practices around the globe, released in January. Then it noted that while serious human rights concerns remained, Indonesia had over the past 12 years made great strides in becoming a stable, democratic country with a strong civil society and independent media.

But Andreas Harsono, from Human Rights Watch, said it was perplexing that the US government would compliment Indonesia’s progress on rights.

“It’s a big joke,” he said. “Attacks against Ahmadiyah have been happening since 2008, after the joint ministerial decree was issued, and attacks against churches during SBY’s six-year tenure are even more prevalent than during the five decades in which Sukarno and Suharto ruled,” he said.

Additional reporting by AP, AFP 

US Gov: State Dept spokesperson on TNI

From http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2011/01/154607.htm

U.S. Department of State

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary

Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
January 13, 2011

INDONESIA
Trial of Three Indonesian troops
Indonesia must hold Security Forces to High Human Rights Standards
U.S. Closely Monitoring Cases
Indonesian Commitment to additional Human rights training for Police
Indonesia’s performance Very Important in to U.S. Cooperation

QUESTION: A question on Indonesia. Three Indonesian troops have just gone on trial at a military tribunal. They are accused of the torture of two Papuan separatists. But apparently, they’re only facing charges of a disciplinary infraction. Do you have any comment on that and whether it casts any doubt over the sincerity of Indonesia to reform its security forces?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s vitally important for Indonesia to reform its security forces and hold those forces to high standards in terms of individual conduct and human rights. We have called upon Indonesia to aggressively investigate evidence of wrongdoing in violation of human rights, and we will be closely monitoring these cases.

QUESTION: Does – can I have one follow-up on that? Is there additional concern because last year, the United States reinstated military ties with the commando unit in Kopassus?

MR. CROWLEY: Right. And at the time, we obtained a commitment from Indonesia that it would undertake additional training and police its security forces and make sure that they were held to a high standard, and where there was concerns about a violation of human rights, that they would be fully investigated and, where necessary, face legal action. We’re going to hold Indonesia to those commitments.

QUESTION: So if there were continued signs of abuse such as this —

MR. CROWLEY: Again, we are —

QUESTION: — and (inaudible), those ties could be —

MR. CROWLEY: Trust me, we are closely monitoring Indonesia’s performance, and that will be very important in terms of the cooperation. And remind that we’ve undertaken limited cooperation, but we’re – this is still an area that we are closely watching.

etan