Subject: RI welcomes US plan to boost military cooperation

The Jakarta Post Monday, March 1, 2010

RI welcomes US plan to boost military cooperation

Abdul Khalik , The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Officials have said the US plan to fully resume its military and counterterrorism cooperation with Indonesia showed that the world's biggest economy appreciated what the most populous Muslim majority country has done to reform its military.

Human rights activists, however, quickly warned that US military aid to Indonesia was a form of support for the country's impunity toward a number of military generals accused of past human rights violations.

"We have to look forward," Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Sunday. "All accusations concern past issues. But in the last 10 years, we have reformed our military and upheld human rights principles. I think the US government appreciates what we have done."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers last week that the US wanted more counterterrorism and military cooperation with Indonesia.

But Clinton was quoted as saying by the Associated Press that the US must ensure that human rights abuse did not resume before increasing collaboration with the large, moderate Muslim country.

"We are looking at ensuring... that human rights abuse or other kinds of behavior that we deplore does not resume."

She says that the Obama administration believed it was possible to satisfy US laws and expand cooperation with a country that has been subject to American sanctions over past human rights abuses.

The Indonesian Military has long complained about being handicapped by a recently lifted US ban on weapon sales.

Washington waived an arms embargo on Jakarta in 2005-2006, but it continues to ban Indonesian Army Special Forces (Kopassus) from receiving military training and financing from the US government. Kopassus is allegedly responsible for a number of atrocities in Papua, Aceh, East Timor and Jakarta.

While agreeing that the resumption of military cooperation with the US was good news for Indonesia, University of Indonesia international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana warned that the military and counterterrorism cooperation would not be used to fight Islamic groups the US labeled fundamentalist.

"It will be a backlash against the government if it uses the cooperation to fight Islamic groups," he said.

A number of human rights groups asserted that the Indonesia military reform had stalled as it continued to resist efforts to take soldiers and former soldiers to court for rights violations.

"Clinton's remarks imply that Indonesian military human rights violations are in the past," the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) said. "But they aren't." ETAN coordinator John M. Miller added, "The best way to prevent future violation is to hold those responsible accountable for the multitude of human rights crimes. Many of these crimes occurred while the US was most deeply engaged with the Indonesian military."

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