Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Leahy says Leahy law applies to Kopassus

In today's Washington Post, Senator Leahy makes clear that he believes training Kopassus would violate the "Leahy Law" - he ought to know, he wrote it. The law prohibits security training for police or military officers or units with credible and unresolved involvement in human rights violations. Or as the Jakarta Post delicately puts it
Under the Leahy Law, the entire Kopassus unit is banned from receiving US military education or training, following allegations of their involvement in a number of atrocities in restive provinces. The law says the ban will only be lifted if the government takes adequate legal steps to process officers allegedly involved.
Leahy tells the Washington Post
"We know there are some who favor resuming aid to Kopassus, but U.S. law requires the government of Indonesia to take effective measures to bring Kopassus members to justice," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the State Department and foreign operations and wrote the Leahy Law.

Speaking about Obama's trip to Indonesia, which is scheduled to start March 20, Leahy said, "It would be a mistake to walk away now from an important principle that has been a consistent element of our policy through several U.S. administrations."
This contradicts statements in the Jakarta Post by Indonesia's former defense minister Juwono Sudarsono that Senator Leahy had come around.


The Washington Post also reports that
The Obama administration's move reflects a desire to improve ties with Indonesia and other countries in Southeast Asia as part of efforts to counter China's rise.
Throughout its history Kopassus has largely been used for internal repression. I’m not sure what that has to do with balancing China in the region.

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