Activists Divided Over Future of TNI Link With US Military After Torture

Activists Divided Over Future of TNI Link With US Military After Torture

, 24 October 2010

 

Some Papuan activists have called on foreign governments to cease cooperation with the Indonesian military as evidence of torture has come to light, but human rights activists said that foreign governments should instead maintain ties and help push forward military reforms.

In a statement issued over the weekend, Forkorus Yoboisembut, chairman of Papua Traditional Council, called on the US and Australian governments as well as the European Union to cease military cooperation with Indonesia.

The statement comes after the government on Friday acknowledged the authenticity of a graphic, 10-minute video that shows six soldiers burning their prisoners’ genitals and threatening them with knives, guns and a cigar.

But Ifdhal Kasim, chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said the resumption of limited military cooperation between the United States and Indonesia is needed to assist change and improvement within the military.

The United States, he said, must ensure there will be firm action taken against the soldiers in the video.

“The military should show that they are taking accountability for what happened in the video,” he said.

He called the torture “shocking,” especially in light of the “progressive internal reform” the military is undertaking.

The military should see the scandal as an impetus to push for reform, he added.

“This will be the defense minister’s task: to convey to the world that reform is indeed taking place in the military,” Ifdhal said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Indonesia in July and announced a resumption of ties with the special forces, known as Kopassus, after a 12-year hiatus.

But he said the engagement would be limited until the army undertakes reforms.

The United States on Friday praised Indonesia for being forthcoming in its investigation of torture of Papuan detainees and said it would not affect the resumption of military ties.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the Indonesian government had promised a “full and transparent investigation” into the video.

“They have undertaken, under democratic law, specific reforms, and we will continue to work with them,” Crowley said.

“What they announced today is consistent with the terms under which we resumed limited security cooperation with Kopassas,” he said.

Yoseph Adi Prasetyo, better known as Stanley, also from Komnas HAM, said the commission’s main interest for the military was to see that there would be no more abusive soldiers within the TNI.

He also urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Chief Agus Suhartono to investigate the case before it got worse.

“Otherwise we have to exercise our mandate to use the 2000 Law on Human Rights Courts to investigate the case,” he said.

The scenes depicted on the video, he said, were only a small glimpse into the rampant torture of native Papuans by Indonesian military personnel.