Kopassus are the elite Special Force Command unit for the Indonesian army. They have been charged, by Amnesty International and other NGOs, with committing human rights violations in East Timor, Aceh, West Papua and Jakarta. For more than a decade the US imposed a military embargo on Kopassus and banned sales of arms to Indonesia because of Kopassus’ repeated human rights violations– including assassination of civilian activists, murder, rape, torture. . . you name it.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at a news conference thursday,
“I was pleased to be able to tell the President that as a result of Indonesian Military (TNI) reform over the past decade and recent actions taken by the ministry of defense to address human rights issues, the US will begin measured and gradual programs of security cooperation activities with the Indonesian Army Special Forces.”
“This initial step will take place within the limit of US law and does not signal any lessening of the importance we place on human rights and accountability,”
This change in US policy comes in the wake of mass protests for West Papuan independence, a region hit particularly hard by Kopassus oppressive tactics.
“We have funded Indonesia. . . in terms of radars, technical intelligence and so on. It’s a form of intelligence and intelligence sharing,” Gates said.
This 180 by the US is no doubt to offset the growing influence of China in the region and to profit from lucrative gold & copper mines at the expense of innocent Papuans.
The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) has created an online petition to ask the United States Government to end US training of Koppasus. Please sign the petition to show your support for the people of West Papua!