Monday, June 7, 2010

KontraS's Usman Hamid on assistance to Kopassus and the Indonesian military

Usman Hamid, coordinator for the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS),  has published an op-ed in the Jakarta Post, "No justice, no aid to Kopassus!" He wrote that "restoring assistance would be seen as Washington’s 'green light' for further military impunity in Indonesia. Such a policy threatens the hopes of democracy and justice in Indonesia."
If the US does restore all aid to Kopassus, without concrete and meaningful preconditions, it would be a disaster for Indonesian human rights. Aid which is not meant just for Kopassus, but also for the TNI, the State Intelligence Agency, and the Ministry of Defense should be carefully tailored to exert maximum pressure to put structural reforms in place that can ensure accountability and civilian control.
He continues:
Accountability for past crimes is not a separate question from military professionalism and human rights protection in present-day Indonesia. Kopassus has been implicated in major crimes such as the Wamena tortures in 2001 and the assassination of Papuan leader Theys Eluay in 2001, as well as recent reports of the assassination of Aceh political activists in 2009. These occurred under democratic governments, precisely because Kopassus has never been held accountable.
Vetting is not the answer.
The Obama administration has indicated that it only intends to give aid to officers and soldiers who have passed human rights “vetting”. But this procedure only operates on an individual basis, and does so ineffectively. It is not possible to know the names of all these who have pulled the trigger, and, in any case, the disappearances, tortures and murders are not the result of individual soldiers running amok.


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