|Subject: SMH: Concern at military exercises
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 17:33:33 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Sydney Morning Herald 31/05/99
Concern at military exercises
By PETER COLE-ADAMS, Defence Correspondent
The Federal Opposition has demanded a comprehensive review of Australia's defence co-operation with Indonesia.
The call by Labor's Foreign Affairs and Defence spokesmen, Mr Laurie Brereton, and Mr Stephen Martin, follows a report on the Nine Network's Sunday program that soldiers from Australia's elite Special Air Service regiment took part in an exercise with Indonesia's Kopassus special forces in 1994 in which East Timorese prisoners were forced to demonstrate ambush techniques.
The program also said the Defence Department had admitted exchanging intelligence with Indonesian military commanders in operational areas, including East Timor.
Mr Brereton noted that bilateral exercises with Kopassus were suspended last October, but warned that any ongoing co-operation with the Indonesian special forces, including visits to Australia by Kopassus officers, would send "the wrong signal to Jakarta", given the widespread, credible reports of Kopassus involvement in pro-integrationist violence in East Timor.
Mr Martin said Australia had a clear interest in maintaining defence co-operation with Indonesia, but the Government must give a categorical assurance that intelligence exchanges between the two nations did not assist Indonesia's internal security operations in East Timor or other parts of the archipelago.
Sunday featured a former East Timorese "prisoner of war" in Dili's notorious SGI prison who was allegedly threatened by the Indonesian military if he did not co-operate in an SAS/Kopassus training exercise in Bandung, Java, in 1994. It quoted the Australian Defence Department as admitting some East Timorese had been involved in providing "survival training", but said they appeared to be "very much part of the training cadre".
It said the exercise involved training in basic infantry skills, not counter insurgency, guerilla warfare or ambush training.
But Indonesia's military commander on East Timor, Colonel Tono Suratnam, said his Kopassus soldiers had trained with the SAS in jungle warfare and that he had taken marksmen for training in Queensland.
Sunday said Colonel D.J. Harris, head of Australia's Defence Intelligence Organisation, had made several trips to Indonesia, including East Timor, in 1994. But the department said DIO had never provided data to foreign governments about dissidents in those nations.