The Courier-Mail [Australia] [via Joyo Indonesia News Service]
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Military violence threatens progress

David Costello

BARACK Obama is right to praise Indonesia's remarkable evolution from
Suharto's dictatorship to today's robust democracy but dark forces are
still working within the country.

We were reminded of this yesterday by a report that secret documents
leaked from inside the Kopassus special forces showed that soldiers
were still murdering and kidnapping civilians in West Papua.

The commandos have been quite brazen in the way they kill West Papuan leaders.

In 2001, soldiers strangled Theys Eluay, the chairman of the Presidium
of the Papua Council. The latest report by American author and
journalist Allan Nairn says that leaked documents show that Kopassus
security forces engage in ``murder and abduction''. It alleges
soldiers target churches in West Papua.

The documents cited by Nairn and featured in a report carried by the
US-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network include a Kopassus
``enemies list'' headed by West Papua's top Baptist minister, the
Reverend Socrates Sofyan Yoman.

Both the US and Australia have reservations about Kopassus and cut
defence ties with the red-beret unit after the East Timor violence of

But this hardline position has faded, largely because the Indonesian
force is seen as a necessary ally in the fight against Islamist

In July this year, Mr Obama lifted the US ban on military assistance
to the commando force. Australian SAS troops are once again involved
in training Kopassus troops.

In September they took part in a counter-terrorism exercise in Bali.
Kopassus says it is trying to clean up its act but the leaked
documents reinforce scepticism about these claims.

David Costello is foreign editor of The Courier-Mail