[ETAN-key] Forum: Indonesian Military Reformed? Hardly...
John M Miller
fbp at igc.org
Fri Sep 12 05:57:02 PDT 2008
The Straits Times (Singapore)
Friday, September 12, 2008
Indonesian military reformed? Hardly...
Edmund McWilliams Retired Foreign Service Officer, US
MR JOHN McBeth's piece ('US policy on Indonesia outdated', Aug 9)
misportrays concern in the United States Congress about the
importance of basic standards for US assistance to the Indonesian
military (TNI), especially for its notorious Special Forces
(Kopassus). Contrary to his contention that this concern is limited
to a few key legislators, concern with TNI violations of human rights
and its impunity, corruption and resistance to civilian control is
broadly shared and bipartisan.
While Mr McBeth's lack of familiarity with Washington's legislative
process might be explained by his distance from those realities, his
efforts to portray TNI as a reformed, or even reforming, institution
Despite remarkable democratic progress in Indonesian society as a
whole, TNI remains a rogue institution. Its senior active-duty and
retired officials remain immune from prosecution for egregious
human-rights crimes and corruption. Individuals indicted for crimes
against humanity by the United Nations-backed special crimes unit in
Timor Leste, despite outstanding international warrants, remain free.
Some have even been promoted.
Human-rights activists in West Papua and elsewhere who try to tell
their stories to UN officials are threatened. A visiting member of
the US Congress, accompanied by the US Ambassador, suffered severe
restrictions that prevented him from meeting most Papuans, even
Papuan officials. Progress towards dismantling TNI's massive business
empire - which includes narcotics and human trafficking and shakedown
operations run by TNI-backed militias, some involving Islamist
radicals - is stymied by TNI resistance.
Congressional concern with all of this is justified and based on the
facts. While Senator Patrick Leahy is a leader in shaping that
consensus, efforts to target him and others as recalcitrant or
isolated grossly underestimate congressional concern for, and
awareness of, past and present realities in Indonesia. It also
disserves Indonesia by diverting attention from the urgent need for
reform and accountability within the military.
Joyo Indonesia News Service
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