Subject: RT: Australia should avoid ties with Indonesia military: Study

Australia should avoid ties with Indonesia military: Study

Damien Kingsbury - Reuters, November 4, 2004

CANBERRA (Reuters): The Australian government should not make any move to strengthen military ties with Indonesia's elite Kopassus army special forces on Thursday, an Australian think tank said on Thursday.

A new report from the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre said Kopassus had not changed from its history of illegal operations and human rights abuses.

"Based on evidence since 1998, it appears that Kopassus has not altered its methods of operation to bring them more into line with wider (if sometimes failed) political reform processes," said the report by Indonesian military expert Damien Kingsbury.

Australia strongly pushed for closer military ties with Indonesia during the Suharto regime in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But Australia cut military links with Indonesia in 1999 in response to the Kopassus role in the destabilization of East Timor after the former Indonesian province voted to become an independent nation.

In August 2003, Prime Minister John Howard announced the return of training links between Australia's special forces and the Kopassus counterterror unit.

At the time, Australia said Kopassus could help if Australians were taken hostage by militant groups. But the closer ties collapsed due to restrictions on the training imposed by Australia.

Kopassus and Indonesian intelligence agencies were aware of the rise of organizations linked to the October 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people including 88 Australians, but they did nothing to thwart them, the report said.

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