U.S. Should Not Cozy Up to Kopassus
Notorious Military Unit Commander Participates in Hawaii
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller (718) 596-7668; (917) 690-4391 (cell)
Karen Orenstein (202) 544-6911
April 6 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
called participation of the commander of Indonesia's Kopassus
Special Forces in a U.S. military conference a bad precedent and a
setback for efforts at reform and accountability. Major General
Syaiful Rizal is in Hawaii this week to attend the Pentagon’s annual
Pacific Area Special Operation Conference (PASOC).
participation in PASOC is yet another indicator of the unwise
approach the Bush Administration is taking toward Indonesia’s
military. They may see the Kopassus as an ally against terrorism,
but Kopassus itself often acts like a terrorist group, attacking
civilians for political ends," said John M. Miller, National
Coordinator of ETAN.
"There can be no doubt that Kopassus will portray participation
in PASOC as an exoneration by the U.S. By publicly anointing the
Kopassus commander, the U.S. has gravely undermined the struggle
within Indonesia to end impunity," said Edmund McWilliams, a retired
Senior Foreign Service Officer.
"This is a devastating betrayal of Indonesian human rights
advocates and their efforts to reform the military and its most
notorious command," added McWilliams, who headed the political
section of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta from 1996 to 1999 and serves
as an advisor to ETAN.
"With Indonesian security forces still engaged in atrocities in
West Papua and continuing to deny their role in crimes against
humanity in East Timor and elsewhere, President Bush's rush to
engage the military is counter-productive to advancing democratic
change in Indonesia," said Miller.
Just last week the Department of State provided
formal notice that it will consider
provision of lethal military equipment to Indonesia.
According to Dr. Damien Kingsbury, an Australian expert on the
Indonesian military, "Kopassus has murdered and tortured political
activists, trade unionists and human rights workers. It has also
trained, equipped and led militias in East Timor, West Papua and
Aceh, and Kopassus members trained the notorious Laskar Jihad
Islamic militia, which stepped up conflict in the Ambon region,
leaving up to 10,000 dead. It was Kopassus that murdered Papuan
independence leader Theys Eluay in 2001."
ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East
Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to
prosecute crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975
to 1999 and for restrictions on U.S. military assistance
to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces.
For additional background, see www.etan.org.
Delegates representing approximately 25 countries are
participating in the week-long
PASOC, which ends tomorrow. According to its website, the
conference, hosted by the Special Operations Command–Pacific, will
"facilitate the exchange of ideas between international SOF [special
operations force] and counter-terrorist experts." This is the first
time Indonesia is participating since 1998.
is arguably the most feared unit of the Indonesian military and has
been implicated in a wide range of human rights violations in East
Timor and throughout Indonesia.
In February, the Bush administration proposed
a six and a half
fold increase Foreign Military Financing for Indonesia.
Testifying in the Senate in early March, Admiral William F. Fallon,
Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, urged a "rapid, concerted
infusion of assistance" to the Indonesian military.
Last November, the Department of State
waived all remaining congressional restrictions on U.S. military
assistance to Indonesia. Congress had imposed various restrictions
East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation
has called on countries to make military assistance to Indonesia
"totally conditional on progress towards full democratization, the
subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian
government, and strict adherence with international human rights..."
US Criticized For Cozying Up To Kopassus
U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page