Subject: Kopassus Chief Asks Public to Forget Its Dark Past at
The Jakarta Globe
April 17, 2010
Kopassus Chief Asks Public to Forget Its Dark Past at Anniversary
by Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Nurfika Osman
photo: Maj. Gen. Lodewijk Paulus inspecting his troops during the 58th
anniversary of Kopassus in Jakarta on Friday.(Antara/Prabu Pandya)
Amid human rights activists' demands for it to face justice, the Army's
elite force marked its 58th anniversary on Friday by calling for the
public to forget about the litany of its past alleged atrocities.
Speaking to journalists after the anniversary celebration in Jakarta,
Maj. Gen. Lodewijk Paulus said the allegations of past rights violations
were a "psychological burden."
He added that the public should "no longer associate" the
force, which is known as Kopassus, with historical atrocities.
"Honestly, it has become a problem and people just keep harping on
them," he said. "It's not fair."
Papang Hidayat, head of research and development at the Commission for
Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), lambasted the unit's
attitude toward the alleged crimes and said it would never be viewed
differently unless it adequately addressed the allegations.
"We still question the credibility of Kopassus, as the unit has
never been subjected to real justice," he told the Jakarta Globe.
Kopassus is accused of being behind the disappearance of 13 activists
during the turbulent years leading to the downfall of Suharto.
Papang said the unit's attempt to ignore the allegations of human
rights abuses would only result in a vicious spiral of new officers
inheriting and passing on the burden of being associated with them.
"It will burden future generations and become an albatross for
Kopassus, unless proper justice is served," Papang said.
Lodewijk claimed the unit was undergoing a thorough reform, with
officers alleged to have committed rights violations now subject to a
military tribunal and a civilian prosecution.
However, the policy is not retroactive, so past violators are not
Lodewijk said the unit had hired a trainer from Norway to instruct its
officers on human rights and how to treat combatants and non-combatants,
but did not say exactly how the force would address past violations.
"It'll be very useful for us, particularly during conflicts,"
he said. "We're committed to increasing our professionalism, solidity
and readiness ahead of any threat."
The entire Kopassus unit is banned from receiving US military education
or training, following allegations of its involvement in a number of
atrocities. The United States says it will only lift the ban if the
government prosecutes the officers allegedly involved in past abuses.
The Human Rights Watch has also said Kopassus officials had not been
held responsible for human rights abuses during the 24 years that
Indonesia occupied East Timor, including the 1992 Santa Cruz massacre.
In his remarks during the ceremony, Army Chief Gen. George Toisutta
said Kopassus had always been a key component of the military and played a
crucial role in defending the country's sovereignty.
But he also said the changing times had brought new challenges and
"So keep up your good performance," he said.
"Only through good training can you maintain and even improve your
skills as an elite force."
Toisutta did not address the allegations of rights violations.
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