Subject: WSJ Letter by HRW's Brad Adams: Indonesia's Special Forces
Unit Still Doesn't Respect Human Rights
The Wall Street Journal March 23, 2010
Indonesia's Special Forces Unit Still Doesn't Respect Human Rights
Your editorial, "Strengthening Jakarta Ties" (Review & Outlook, March 18), correctly notes that Indonesia and its military have made significant progress since the Suharto era but incorrectly suggests that democratic elections and efforts to depoliticize the Indonesian military have transformed its special forces, Kopassus, into a rights-respecting force.
Since Suharto's ouster in 1998, Kopassus has been implicated in numerous serious human-rights abuses in East Timor, Aceh, and Papua. Of the few Kopassus soldiers who have been convicted of human-rights abuses, the majority continue to serve, and some have been promoted to senior ranks. Until the Indonesian government holds abusers accountable, and Kopassus shows that it can act as a professional force, Senator Leahy and other members of Congress are right to reject it as a counterterrorism partner and to focus on strengthening the capacity of the Indonesian police.
Brad Adams Asia Director Human Rights Watch London