US-Indonesia military ties spark outrage

US-Indonesia military ties spark outrage
UCANews, 27 July 2010

Jakarta human rights groups have criticized the lifting of a US ban on military cooperation with Indonesian special forces troops.

 

A statement by several human rights groups including the Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared (IKOHI) and Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) slammed the resumption of cooperation with the Kopassus (Special Force Command) while human rights violations in Timor Leste, Aceh and Papua remain unresolved.


Maria Katharina Sumarsih (center), speaking at the July 23 press conference

“As part of civil society and the human rights community in Indonesia, we are very disappointed,” Catholic human rights activist Maria Katharina Sumarsih told a July 23 press conference in Central Jakarta.

The group said that resumption of military cooperation was obviously a backward step because the House of Representatives had decided less than a year ago to reinforce accountability on human rights.

“It has completely backed away from its human rights agenda,” the group statement said.

The group said that the resumption of ties was evidence that justice and redress for victims is not a state priority.

IKOHI member Mugiyanto, who was himself kidnapped in 1998, said that he had taken steps to seek justice.

“But it seems that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono does not care about us,” he said.

Yati Andriyani from KontraS told ucanews.com that the decision to resume military cooperation should be reviewed.

Former US President Bill Clinton ended military cooperation in September 1999 after the violence following the referendum for independence in East Timor (now Timor Leste).

US Secretary of Defense Robert Michael Gates flagged a resumption of cooperation during a visit to Jakarta this year.