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also Bahasa Indonesia - Menegakkan HAM dengan Membatasi Bantuan Militer ke Indonesia

Standing Up for Human Rights by Restricting Military Assistance to Indonesia 

Response to the Wall Street Journal editorial, Obama's Indonesia Test

November 25, 2008 - A recent Wall Street Journal Asia editorial urged its readers to watch the “low-profile” but important issue of the U.S. military relationship with Indonesia.  The Journal (“Obama's Indonesia Test,” Nov. 20) repeated the widely-discredited case that re-engagement with the largely-unreformed and unrepentant Indonesian military was the best way to promote reform and human rights. It called on President-elect Barack Obama “to stand down liberal Senators and interest groups” like the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and Amnesty International for seeking conditions on military assistance to Indonesia.

The editorial acknowledges the obvious, stating “Indonesia's military has certainly had human-rights problems in the past,” but urges the incoming administration to forget about them in the name of building an alliance on the “global war on terror.” We have certainly seen what ignoring international human rights concerns during the Bush years has accomplished (Guantanamo, torture, “extraordinary rendition,” etc…).


Those pesky past “human-rights problems” were at their greatest when the U.S. was most engaged with the Indonesian military.

The Obama administration and incoming 119th Congress should change course and put human rights at the forefront of U.S. policy toward Indonesia. This would contribute more to encouraging democratic reform and human rights accountability in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country than any amount of military training or weapons. Indonesians who view the military as a chief roadblock to greater reform will be grateful.

History lessons

The Journal argues that from “the 1960s, the U.S. has worked with Indonesian officers in a variety of exchanges ranging from short courses at military colleges to joint training exercises. These programs help Indonesians gain technical expertise as well as learn key values, such as observing human rights and respecting civilian control. …”

Not exactly. Those pesky past “human-rights problems” were at their greatest when the U.S. was most engaged with the Indonesian military.

Let’s look at what happened when U.S.-Indonesia ties were the closest. In 1965, General Suharto took power in a coup and according to scholars, up to one million people were killed in its aftermath. West Papua was seized in 1963 with up to 100,000 dead. In 1975, Indonesia with explicit U.S. support invaded East Timor, with another 100,000-200,000 dead. Some 90% of the weapons used in the invasion and subsequent occupation came from the U.S.  Few have bothered to try to count those throughout the archipelago who suffered torture, rape or the loss of a limb, livelihood or home. These are the lessons the Indonesian military learned about “key values” from unfettered U.S. military assistance.

The only period of significant reform came during the period when the U.S. actually suspended much assistance during the 1990s. Chief among the changes were the end of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998. Since he was driven from office, East Timor became independent. (The Indonesian military’s destructive exit from the country, for a time,  lead to a full cut off of all military assistance.) In the late 1990s, the military gave up a few prerogatives, including its seats in parliament. But since the U.S. began to incrementally reinstate military assistance in 2002 the reform process has stalled.

Kopassus patchBy 2005, the Bush administration had reinstated nearly all military assistance and has since sought further expanded ties through training of the Kopassus, the notorious special forces unit responsible for some of the worst human rights violations in East Timor, West Papua, Aceh and elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal thinks getting in bed with Kopassus is a great idea and devotes several paragraphs to criticizing Senators Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold for their opposition to lifting this final hurdle to unrestricted military engagement. But the Senators have only called for following existing law (authored by Senator Leahy) barring training of military units with histories of human rights crimes  where those responsible have not been brought to justice. If that provision has any meaning, it must apply to Kopassus.

U.S. and Indonesian soldiers train in counterinsurgency.  
U.S. soldier and Indonesian Marine during counterinsurgency training in March 2008. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Marc Ayalin)  

Re-engagement has failed to end the widespread impunity enjoyed by Indonesia’s security forces for crimes against humanity and other serious violations committed against the peoples of East Timor and Indonesia. Rather, re-engagement has emboldened the military’s continued resistance to civilian control, and their persistent emphasis on internal security. The Indonesian military continues to resist attempts to dismantle its "territorial command" system, which allows the military to exert influence over civil administration and politics, commerce, and justice down to the village level. Finally, efforts to implement a law ending the military’s involvement in business have degenerated into farce, and the military remains involved in a variety of illegal enterprises, including logging and narcotics trade.

Several retired generals responsible for some of the worst atrocities in East Timor are serious candidates for President in next year’s elections. General Wiranto is perhaps the best known. He came in third in the 2004 Presidential campaign. Wiranto was indicted by a UN-sponsored court in East Timor for crimes against humanity for his role as top commander of the military in 1999, when it sought to undermine the UN-organized ballot on independence, Former Kopassus commander (and Suharto son-in-law), Prabowo Subianto is another credible Presidential candidate. According to an Australian coroner’s report a third potential candidate, Sutiyoso, was part of a unit which murdered five foreign journalists after they crossed the Timorese border a few months prior to Indonesia’s full-scale invasion.

A new approach


We are now expecting Obama to put more pressure on Indonesia to resolve unfinished human rights cases.

Rafendi Djamin,  Human Rights Watch Group

Human rights violations are not just in the past. In West Papua, with Indonesian military protection, the U.S.-based Freeport mining company has destroyed the environment, livelihoods, and culture of the local people while making billions off the largest gold mine in the world. Just this year, protests by Papuan people demanding self-determination and greater voice have been met with harsh reprisals, including long prison terms, torture and the death of at least one by-stander.

In May 2007, Marines killed four civilians and wounded eight in a land dispute between villagers and the Indonesian navy in Pasuruan, East Java. According to The International Herald Tribune, “The marines were tried by a military tribunal but ultimately sentenced to just 18 months in prison. The marine station's relationship with the plantation company was never investigated, nor were any of the station's officers. The land dispute remains unresolved.”

As in the past, the current U.S. administration downplays these and other human rights violations, while celebrating its reinvigorated institutional partnership with Indonesia’s  security forces.

Barak ObamaWill Obama change course? President-elect Obama has described U.S. engagement in Indonesia, where he lived as a child, as less than positive. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that “for the past sixty years the fate of [Indonesia] has been directly tied to U.S. foreign policy.” This policy included “the tolerance and occasional encouragement of tyranny, corruption, and environmental degradation when it served our interests.” His earlier book, Dreams from My Father, Obama writes of Suharto’s bloody seizure of power:  “The death toll was anybody’s guess: a few hundred thousand, maybe, half a million. Even the smart guys at the [CIA] had lost count.” 

We hope Obama will in fact stand with Indonesia’s human rights community, which is not so keen to forget past crimes and ignore current ones as the outgoing administration. Indonesian advocates called on President-elect Obama and Congress to pressure Indonesia’s government to respect human rights. Rafendi Djamin, coordinator of the Human Rights Watch Group, acknowledged the U.S.’s past “huge role in pushing for rights advocacy in Indonesia… I have seen that during the Bush administration, the U.S. Congress is still concerned with Indonesia's democratization and human rights advocacy, but Bush has rarely given a direct warning of the importance of human rights advocacy."

Djamin said in the Jakarta Post, "We are now expecting Obama to put more pressure on Indonesia to resolve unfinished human rights cases by directly questioning the government about them and by addressing their importance." Another advocate said that "If Indonesia does not respond positively to U.S. pressure… the U.S. would reinstate its military embargo against us."

East Timor's official Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation after examining in detail the impact of Indonesian occupation and destructive withdrawal on the East Timorese called on countries to make military assistance to Indonesia "totally conditional on progress towards full democratisation, the subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian government, and strict adherence with international human rights..." President Obama and the next Congress should follow that recommendation.

see also

A Letter from Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

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Note: The above article was corrected to reflect the fact that Sutiyoso was a member of a unit involved in the Balibo attack, not its commander.

Menegakkan HAM dengan Membatasi Bantuan Militer ke Indonesia

Tanggapan atas editorial Wall Street Journal, Tes Indonesia terhadap Obama

25/11/08 – Editorial Wall Street Journal baru-baru ini mendorong pembacanya mengamati isu “yang kurang mendapat perhatian” namun penting dalam hubungan militer AS dan Indonesia. Editorial tersebut (“Tes Indonesia terhadap Obama,” 20/11) mengulang pesan menyesatkan bahwa memperketat kembali hubungan dengan militer Indonesia yang sebagian besar belum tersentuh reformasi dan enggan mengakui dosa-dosanya adalah cara terbaik mendorong reformasi dan HAM. Tulisan itu menyerukan Presiden-terpilih Obama “mengabaikan para senator liberal dan kelompok-kelompok berkepentingan” seperti ETAN dan Amnesty International dalam menyusun prasyarat bantuan militer terhadap Indonesia.

Editorial ini mengakui kenyataan bahwa “Militer Indonesia memang memiliki masalah HAM di masa silam,” tapi mendorong pemerintahan mendatang untuk melupakannya demi membangun aliansi dalam “perang global melawan terror.” Kita tentu sudah melihat apa yang terjadi akibat mengabaikan tuntutan masyarakat HAM internasional selama pemerintahan Bush (Guantanamo, penyiksaan, extraordinary rendition (penangkapan tak sah),” dst…).

Pemerintahan Obama dan Kongres ke-119 mendatang harus berubah haluan dan meletakkan HAM di barisan terdepan dalam menyusun kebijakan AS terhadap Indonesia. Ini akan memberi kontribusi dalam mendorong refomasi demokratis dan pertanggungjawaban HAM di negara berpenduduk mayoritas Muslim terbesar di dunia, dibanding pelatihan militer atau bantuan persenjataan dalam jumlah berapapun. Rakyat Indonesia yang memandang militer sebagai penghalang utama reformasi yang lebih luas akan sangat berterima kasih.

Pelajaran sejarah

Jurnal ini juga berargumen bahwa sejak “1960-an, AS telah bekerja sama dengan pejabat militer Indonesia dalam berbagai pertukaran mulai dari kursus singkat hingga latihan gabungan. Program-program ini telah membantu Indonesia membangun keahlian teknis serta mempelajari nilai-nilai utama, seperti menegakkan HAM dan menghargai kendali sipil. …”

Ini tidak benar. Masa-masa bergelimang “masalah HAM” justru mencapai puncaknya ketika AS terlibat penuh dengan militer Indonesia.

Mari kita lihat apa yang terjadi ketika hubungan AS – Indonesia sedang erat-eratnya. Pada tahun 1965, Jenderal Suharto naik tahta lewat kudeta dan menurut para ahli, sebagai akibatnya sekitar 1 juta orang terbunuh. Papua Barat diduduki pada tahun 1963 dengan korban 100.000 jiwa. Di tahun 1975, Indonesia dengan dukungan terang-terangan AS menginvasi Timor Timur, dengan korban 100.000 – 200.000 jiwa. Sekitar 90% senjata yang digunakan selama invasi dan pendudukan selanjutnya berasal dari AS. Belum lagi korban-korban berjatuhan di seluruh nusantara, yang tak banyak mendapat perhatian. Mereka mengalami siksaan, pemerkosaan atau kehilangan sanak saudara, mata pencaharian atau tempat tinggal. Inilah nilai-nilai utama yang dipelajari militer Indonesia dari bantuan berlimpah militer AS.

Satu-satunya periode dimana reformasi yang signifikan berlangsung, justru  ketika AS menunda banyak bantuannya selama 19901-an. Salah satu perubahan terbesar adalah berakhirnya kediktatoran Suharto di tahun 1998. Setelah dia digulingkan dari tahtanya, Timor Timur pun meraih kemerdekaannya. (Proses keluarnya  militer Indonesia yang destruktif, selama beberapa saat, telah mendorong terputusnya semua bantuan militer secara total.) Di tahun 1990-an, militer menghapuskan sejumlah hak-hak istimewanya, termasuk kursi-kursi di parlemen. Tetapi sejak AS mulai memperbaharui kembali bantuan militer yang terus bertambah jumlahnya sejak tahun 2002, proses reformasi ini telah terhenti.

Di tahun 2005, pemerintahan Bush telah memperbaharui hampir semua bantuan militer dan sejak itu berusaha mempererat hubungannya lewat pelatihan terhadap Kopasus, unit militer khusus yang punya reputasi buruk dalam berbagai pelanggaran HAM terburuk di Timor-Timur, Papua Barat, dan Aceh dan berbagai tempat lainnya. Wall Street Journal berpikir bahwa seperaduan dengan Kopasus adalah ide cemerlang. Mereka mempersembahkan beberapa paragraph untuk mengkritik Senator Patrick Leahy dan Russ Feingold atas penentangan mereka untuk menghapus hambatan terakhir menuju hubungan militer tanpa batas. Padahal para senator ini hanya menyerukan dipatuhinya hukum yang berlaku (yang disusun oleh Senator Leahy) yang melarang pelatihan atas unit militer yang memiliki sejarah kelam kejahatan HAM, di mana mereka yang bertanggungjawab belum diseret ke pengadilan. Jika aturan ini memang ada maknanya, ini harus berlaku terhadap Kopasus.

Pembaharuan kerja sama telah gagal mengakhiri kekebalan yang dinikmati oleh aparat keamanan Indonesia atas kejahatan terhadap kemanusiaan dan berbagai pelanggaran lainnya terhadap rakyat Timor Timur dan Indonesia. Malahan pembaharuan tersebut telah memperkuat penolakan kalangan militer terhadap kendali kalangan sipil, dan kengototan mereka dalam menekankan isu keamanan dalam negeri. Militer Indonesia terus menolak usaha menghapus sistem “komando territorial”nya, yang memungkinkan militer membangun pengaruh terhadap administrasi sipil dan dunia politik, perdagangan, dan peradilan hingga ke tingkat desa. Terakhir, usaha menegakkan hukum guna mengakhiri keterlibatan militer di dunia bisnis kini jadi wacana belaka, dan militer tetap terlibat dalam berbagai usaha ilegal, termasuk perdagangan kayu dan narkotika.

Sejumlah jenderal pensiunan bertanggung-jawab atas beberapa pembantaian terburuk di Timor Timur adalah calon presiden serius dalam pemilihan umum tahun depan. Jenderal Wiranto mungkin yang paling terkenal. Dia meraup suara terbanyak ketiga pada Pemilu 2004. Wiranto divonis oleh pengadilan yang disponsori PBB di Timor Timur atas kejahatan terhadap kemanusiaan dalam perannya sebagai pemimpin tertinggi militer di tahun 1999, dalam usahanya melemahkan pemungutan suara menuju kemerdekaan yang diorganisir PBB. Mantan komandan Kopasus (dan menantu Suharto), Prabowo Subianto adalah calon kuat presiden lainnya. Menurut sebuah laporan koroner Australia, kandidat potensial ketiga, Sutiyoso, adalah bagian dari unit yang membunuh lima wartawan asing setelah mereka menyeberangi perbatasan Timor beberapa bulan sebelum invasi penuh Indonesia.

Pendekatan baru

Pelanggaran HAM tidak hanya terjadi di masa silam. Di Papua Barat, dengan perlindungan militer Indonesia, Freeport, perusahaan tambang asal AS, telah merusak lingkungan, mata pencaharian, dan budaya masyarakat lokal sambil meraup miliaran dolar dari tambang emas terbesar dunia ini. Tahun ini saja, unjuk rasa dari masyarakat Papua yang menuntut hak penentuan diri dan hak bersuara yang lebih luas telah dihadapi dengan tindakan brutal, termasuk penjara dengan masa tahanan panjang, penyiksaan dan kematian setidaknya satu orang warga yang kebetulan lewat.

Pada bulan Mei 2007, Angkatan Laut membunuh empat warga sipil dan melukai delapan lainnya dalam sebuah sengketa lahan antara penduduk desa dan Angkatan Laut Indonesia di Pasuruan, Jawa Timur. Menurut The International Herald Tribune, “Anggota Marinir diadili oleh Pengadilan Militer tapi akhirnya hanya dijatuhi hukuman 18 tahun penjara. Hubungan Angkatan Laut dengan perusahaan perkebunan tidak pernah diinvetigasi, begitu pula pejabat tinggi di markas tersebut. Sengketa tanah itu tetap tak terpecahkan.”

Seperti di masa silam, pemerintahan AS sekarang mengabaikan fakta ini dan pelanggaran HAM lainnya, sambil merayakan menguatnya kerja sama kelembagaan dengan pihak keamanan Indonesia.

Akankah Obama berubah haluan? Presiden terpilih Obama telah menggambarkan keterlibatan AS di Indonesia, di mana ia menjalani masa kecilnya, dengan nada negatif. Dalam buku Audacity of Hope, Obama menulis bahwa “selama 60 tahun terakhir nasib [Indonesia] sangat tergantung pada kebijakan luar negeri AS.” Kebijakan ini mencakup “teloransi dan dukungan tanpa henti terhadap tirani, korupsi dan pengrusakan lingkungan selama itu sejalan dengan kepentingan kita.” Dalam buku sebelumnya, Dreams of My Father, Obama menulis tentang pengambilalihan kekuasaan oleh Suharto yang berlimpah darah: “Korban jiwa hanya bisa ditebak-tebak: beberapa ratus ribu, mungkin, setengah juta. Bahkan orang-orang pintar di CIA pun tidak mampu menghitungnya.”

Kami berharap Obama berpihak pada masyarakat HAM Indonesia, yang tak sudi melupakan kejahatan masa silam dan mengabaikan yang tengah berlangsung seperti yang dilakukan pemerintahan sebelumnya. Aktivis HAM Indonesia mendorong Presiden terpilih Obama dan Kongres menekan pemerintah Indonesia untuk menghargai HAM. Rafendi Djamin, koordinator Human Rights Watch Group, mengakui bahwa di masa lampau AS “memiliki peran besar dalam mendorong advokasi HAM di Indonesia… Saya melihat itu selama pemerintahan Bush, Kongres AS masih peduli terhadap demokratisasi dan advokasi HAM, tetapi Bush jarang diberikan peringatan langsung tentang pentingnya advokasi HAM.”

Djamin menuturkan di Jakarta Post, “Kami sekarang mengharapkan Obama untuk lebih menekan Indonesia menyelesaikan kasus-kasus HAM yang belum tuntas dengan menanyakan langsung pada pemerintah tentang hal itu dan menekannya pentingnya hal tersebut.” Aktivis lain mengatakan “Jika Indonesia tidak menanggapi secara positif tekanan AS… AS bisa memberlakukan kembali embargo militer terhadap Indonesia.”

Pejabat Timor Timur dalam Komisi Penerimaan, Kebenaran dan Rekonsiliasi setelah mengkaji secara terperinci dampak pendudukan Indonesia dan penarikan pasukannya dari Timor Timur yang destruktif menyerukan agar bantuan militer kepada Indonesia “berdasarkan syarat kemajuan dalam demokratisasi penuh, sub-ordinasi militer terhadap hukum dan pemerintahan sipil, dan pemberlakuan ketat HAM internasional…” Presiden Obama dan Kongres harus mengikuti rekomendasi tersebut.







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