Indonesian Military Training With US to Resume
The leaders of Indonesia’s controversial special forces division, known as Kopassus, were in Washington to meet with the Obama administration. They will discuss the possibility of resuming US training of the elite Indonesian military unit. Kopassus is accused of gross human rights violation in East Timor region by various organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The United States, under the Leahy provision of Foreign Operations Appropriations Act of 1997, prohibits providing training or any kind of assistance to foreign military unit if there is “credible evidence” that it has committed “gross violations of human rights.” The ban can be waived by the Secretary of the State if the relevant foreign government is taking effective measures to investigate and punish violations.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the administration is hoping to expand its military partnership with Indonesia and enhance counter-terrorism cooperation. Amid criticisms on whether such policy is effective, the Obama administration may see much to gain in enhancing military ties with Indonesia. The region is the largest economy in Southeast Asia, and strategically located to contain China. This meeting comes ahead of Obama’s state visit to Indonesia later this month, which will launch the “US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership”—a bilateral strategy to enhance security and economic cooperation between the two countries.
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