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Senators Write U.S. State Dept. on Training Kopassus and Brimob

United States Senate

April 3, 2008

Dr. Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

Following recent conversations with U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, Cameron Hume and officials at the State Department to discuss the Administration's intention to re-engage with certain units of Indonesia's military and police forces, we are writing to express our opposition to this initiative.

We recognize the importance of a strong and effective partnership with Indonesia, and have supported various initiatives to re-engage with and provide assistance to the Indonesian military and police, particularly as we seek to combat extremism around the globe. However, this relationship must not come at the expense of a principled stance on human rights and accountability for past abuses which have yet to be adequately addressed, if at all.

Human rights training for both the military and police is a critical next step to the country's progression, but we are concerned that neither Kopassus, Indonesia's Special Forces, nor Brimob, the paramilitary police, have demonstrated a commitment to the rule of law. We believe that re-engaging with them, absent such a commitment, would undermine the goal of creating a professional military and police force that upholds international human rights norms and contributes to broader efforts by our government to promote governance, accountability, and respect for civilian control.

Although the Ambassador indicated that he would be personally involved in the "vetting" of individuals considered for training, it remains unclear what vetting criteria will be utilized or even how such vetting will occur, particularly given that there are no formal records of those who have committed abuses. Without the appropriate mechanisms in place or an ability to distinguish the perpetrators, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to ensure the reliability of any vetting process. Additionally, given the recent arrests and ongoing detention of protestors in West Papua, we have yet one more reason to believe that the military is not adequately respecting civilian control and is demonstrating troubling signs of regression.

As you know, we have a longstanding interest in these issues and have passed legislation designed to hold the Indonesian military more accountable for past atrocities and to ensure the development of proper mechanisms so such abuses are not repeated. Unfortunately, little progress has been made toward these goals, which continues to undermine the other positive reforms Indonesia has made since the end of the Suharto regime. We strongly urge you take these concerns into account before making a decision to move forward with this training.

Thank you for your attention to these concerns.


Russell D. Feingold
United States Senator

Patrick Leahy
United States Senator

CC: Ambassador Cameron Hume, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia






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