Human rights advocates are concerned about possible links between the American military and the Indonesian special forces that were once linked to human rights abuses in East Timor, Aceh and Papua.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stated he would exploring the reopening of relations with Kopassus, although this can not be done now because of Leahy's Law sponsored by US Senator Vermont Patrick Leahy, a Democrat member, who states that the State Department and the US military are prohibited from assisting any foreign forces that have violated "The assistance of the United States will give legitimacy, and that legitimacy should emerge from respect for justice and human rights," said Senator Leahy.
"The question that the Minister of Defense Mattis needs to answer is whether the Indonesian government has punish the commanding officers of Kopassus and me "All Leagues including the United States have a moral duty to make our world better," said Andreas Harsono, a senior researcher [
Human Rights Watch Indonesia.
Andreas denounced the possibility of resumption of the partnership by writing that "restoring aid to Kopassus is equivalent to giving a present to Indonesia without the country having to do anything."
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visits to Indonesia last week and was greeted with fascinating performances by Indonesian troops, who drank snake blood, walked on fire, rolled over glass shards, and performed a rescue show hostage to music accompaniment from the film "Mission Impossible."
History of Kopassus
Kopassus, short for Special Forces Command s, was established in 1952 and its activities include unconventional war, sabotage, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, and intelligence activities. Kopassus earned a bad name for its violations in East Timor during the Indonesian occupation there, which ended in 1999 and in the 1998 racial riots in Jakarta, when Kopassus was involved in the killing and violence against Chinese Indonesians. Kopassus was the most prominent in the dictatorship of Suharto, who was ousted in 1998, and his prestige has declined in the present democracy.
"His status is certainly still prestigious, but it is much different from his position during Suharto's New Order," said John Sulaiman, "If there is normalization of relations with the United States, Kopassus commanders may be of paramount importance," he added.
"The big question is whether the US Senate will allow it, because Kopassus will not may apologize or be held accountable for what happened in East Timor, "Sulaiman said. "It is difficult to know what will happen, because the decision is on the side of the United States, not Indonesia."
Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu expressed hope that America should lift sanctions against Kopassus, imposed on human rights abuses in East Timor the country's independence struggle in the 1990s.
"Sanctions have long been imposed on Kopassus. . . Mattis will try to pull it out, "Ryacudu said last week.
" One of the sanctions is obviously that they are not allowed to go to America. They can not do the exercises together, but Mattis will open this cooperation again, "he added.
Mattis told reporters in Jakarta that the United States would take the" ordinary procedure "to consider re-opening relations with Kopassus.
Mattis's visit to Indonesia came after his strategy announcement to strengthen partnership with foreign military as a bulwark against Russian and Chinese forces. But Indonesia is unlikely to take sides between America and China.
Although lately Indonesia has responded strongly to the South China Sea problem, it is due more to its own sovereign interests than the geopolitics of the superpowers. Even since the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War era, Indonesia has strived not to form an official partnership with superpowers like the United States.
"Why is Indonesia cautious about its relationship with China? Of course because of economic problems, "said Arbi Sanit, a political scientist at the University of Indonesia. "China's investment in Indonesia continues to increase, so this is always considered," he said.
Indonesia's exports to China and America are roughly the same, $ 16 billion, but Indonesia imports far more than China, $ 30.1 billion and $ 7, 3 billion from America. China is the number one trading partner for Indonesia in import and export volume.
"In the meantime," Sanit said, "American power has declined in Southeast Asia and they want to change it. . . But I think what Indonesia will continue to prioritize in foreign policy is an independent attitude – towards ASEAN, against China, and also to the United States, "he said. [gp/ii]