Saturday, May 1, 2010

US Religious Freedom Commission calls for Indonesia military reform

The  United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has just released its annual report. The commission maintains Indonesia on its Watch List (the Indonesia chapter begins on page 255 of the PDF), citing governmental restrictions and violence against some religious minorities, including concerns
about new government decrees that are used to severely restrict, and in some provinces even ban, the activities of the Ahmadiyya community; the forced closures and vandalism of places of worship belonging to Christian, Hindu, and Ahmadiyya groups in some localities; the growth and political influence of religious extremists; the deepening sectarian divisions in Papua due to human rights abuses perpetuated by the military and police; and the harassment and arrest of individuals considered deviant under Indonesian law. USCIRF policy recommendations include urging the Obama administration to deal with pressing social, political, and economic concerns by supporting government offices, religious groups, and civil society organizations in Indonesia working to promote religious freedom, counter extremism, teach tolerance and human rights, pursue legal reform, and build interfaith alliances.
The commission in its recommendations cites the need for reform of the Indonesian military and the need to deny assistance and visas to "any police or military unit or security agency personnel found to have engaged in violations of human rights." It does not name Kopassus explicitly. It calls for the removal from conflict areas of officers indicted in East Timor. It stresses the police role in counter-terrorism, but highlights that the U.S. trained "counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 ha[s] exacerbated existing sectarian tensions in Sulawesi. Local religious leaders claim that Detachment 88’s harsh tactics increased sympathy for extremists in Central Sulawesi and attracted religious militants from other regions. For example, in April, 2008 police shot and killed Madi, a sect leader involved in a 2005 clash with police." (page 257)

From the reports recommendations (page 266)

In addition, as part of U.S.-Indonesian counter-terrorism cooperation, the U.S. should ensure that any future ties with the Indonesian military and police should include, as priorities:

  •  reform of the Indonesian military, including transfer to civilian control, training in international human rights standards, technical assistance in military law and tribunals;

  •  transfer or removal from Papua, the Malukus, or Central Sulawesi any security, police, and militia personnel indicted for activities related to serious human rights abuses and war crimes by the UN's Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (SCIU) and the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor in Jakarta;

  •  dedicated funds for training Indonesian police in counter-terrorism techniques and protecting human rights in areas of sectarian conflict, including fellowships to the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, Thailand and participation in UN Police training programs (UNPOL); and

  •  denial of U.S. assistance, training, or visas for any police or military unit or security agency personnel found to have engaged in violations of human rights.

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