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ETAN on Democracy Now!

What ETAN said on Democracy Now! on November 9, 2010. The show included two segments, the first focused on Allan Nairn's expose of documents concerning Kopassus in West Papua as President Obama arrived in Jakarta. The second on the murder of Indonesian human rights activist Munir, which then returned to subject of Obama's visit. The excerpts below are ETAN's comments during the show as transcribed by Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: The music, Bella Galhos singing. She is a Timorese woman. I was with her in East Timor the day East Timor became an independent nation, independent after 25 years of occupation by Indonesia. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.

Our guest on the phone from Indonesia is Allan Nairn, award-winning investigative journalist and activist. We’re also joined by John Miller here in the studio. He’s the national coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network.

 
And many in Indonesia, particularly in the human rights community, would rather not see the military, particularly Kopassus, involved in those efforts. There have been enough police human rights abuses involved in the anti-terrorism effort there.


Before we go back to Allan, John, I just wanted you to explain how it was that the United States government, under the Obama administration, restored military aid, restored aid to Kopassus, the Red Berets of the Indonesian military.

JOHN M. MILLER Well, all military training to Indonesia was cut off in May 1998 due to another exposé of Allan’s and some documents Congress got. And gradually, since East Timor voted for independence, when all military assistance was suspended, it’s been restored. And the only thing that remained restricted was aid to Kopassus because of its human rights record. There’s a law, the Leahy Law, that says the U.S. should not train units that have unresolved or ongoing human rights violations, which certainly includes Kopassus.

And the Bush administration, actually, a few years ago tried to restore aid to Kopassus, promised it to the president, Yudhoyono, and his own State Department legal team said no. And last summer, Secretary of State Gates—Secretary of Defense Gates went to Indonesia on a surprise visit, quick visit, and announced that the U.S. would engage with Kopassus. They didn’t say it would be full training, but they said that enough reform had happened—some of the officers, that had been convicted within Kopassus of killing a Papuan leader, who had been jailed briefly and then restored to the unit, were removed from the unit, though not from the military, significantly enough—and that that was enough progress to restore this last bit, and that they would focus on counterterrorism training. The thing is that Indonesian counterterrorism efforts have been focused on the police. And many in Indonesia, particularly in the human rights community, would rather not see the military, particularly Kopassus, involved in those efforts. There have been enough police human rights abuses involved in the anti-terrorism effort there.

Allan, Allan, we’re going to come back to you, but I wanted to ask John Miller of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, what you’re calling for, very briefly.

JOHN MILLER: Well, briefly, we would like to see President Obama, first of all, apologize for U.S. policy towards Indonesia. As a child, he grew up in the Suharto years. He’s familiar with what Suharto did and the U.S backing of it. Second, is—

AMY GOODMAN: Killed a half-a-million to a million Indonesians.

JOHN MILLER: Indonesians, invaded East Timor, took over West Papua. And second, as a start, end cooperation with Kopassus and the police counterterrorism unit, which has an awful human rights record, Detachment 88. And third, go to the U.N. and see that those that were indicted, like the deputy defense minister, who were indicted in East Timor, are brought to trial. Those would be important steps the U.S. can take.

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