Subject: Kopassus not in US-RI pact

[The article incorrectly implies that spending money to train Kopassus is banned by Congress because of a military embargo. Many believe it is barred by the Leahy law which restricts military assistance to military units which have a history of unresolved human rights violations. The administration continues to look for loopholes, see for more info and to sign our petition. - John for ETAN]

Kopassus not in US-RI pact

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Wed, 06/16/2010 10:10 AM

The Indonesian and US governments signed a defense agreement last Thursday that may help mend bilateral ties after a US military embargo but excluded specific mention of Indonesia's special forces.

The agreement established a framework for defense cooperation on logistics, joint training, officer exchange education programs, a security dialogue and equipment procurement, said Indonesian Defense Ministry spokesman I Wayan Midhio.

The agreement did not specify if the Indonesian Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) would be involved in joint operations or other activities.

Wayan told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that negotiators discussed the TNI (the Indonesian Military) in general but did not specifically discuss Kopassus. "Nevertheless, Kopassus is part of TNI," he said.

He said Kopassus's exclusion from the negotiations was a political decision. The US military would have to spend money to implement the agreement, which was banned by the US Congress as part of the military embargo.

The framework was signed last Thursday by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Policy Robert M. Scher and the Indonesian Defense Ministry's director general for defense strategy, Maj. Gen. Syarifudin Tippe, said a press release from the US Embassy in Jakarta.

The framework is "intended to integrate existing cooperative activities in the field of defense" and is "based on the principles of mutual respect, benefit and trust", the release said.

Kopassus has been barred from participating in joint military activities because of human rights violations in West Papua and Timor Leste (then East Timor), which led to a US military embargo.

International relations experts Makmur Keliat at the University of Indonesia and Teuku Rezasyah at Padjadjaran University in Bandung said that a fair and mutual agreement should allow Kopassus to join joint military exercises.

Makmur said Kopassus could improve professionalism through joint military training.

"Human rights violations should not be an obstacle to defense cooperation," Makmur told the Post.

"Both legal proceedings and [defense] cooperation should proceed side-by-side. How do we make it happen? That is what must be specified in the framework," he said.

Rezasyah said Indonesia had completed a vast defense reorganization and already punished human rights violators in the military.

However, history shows that it was former US president Gerald R. Ford and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger who gave the Indonesian government a "green light" to send Kopassus to East Timor and ignored the use of violence, Rezasyah said.

"The Indonesian government should not let itself be lulled by the US' promises in advance of [US President Barack] Obama's visit in November," he said.

The US should also guarantee that the framework will help Indonesian weapons manufacturers, such as PT Pindad, PT PAL, IPTN and PT Dirgantara Indonesia, he added.

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