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AWPA Calls On Govt To Break Ties With Kopassus

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Media release: 29 September 2010

AWPA (Sydney) Calls On The Government To Break All Ties With The Indonesian Special Forces Unit, Kopassus.

Just weeks after it was revealed that members of the Indonesian counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 was accused of the torture of activists in Maluku, the Australian SAS has conducted a joint exercises with an other Indonesian Special Forces unit, Kopassus , in Bali.

Joe Collins of AWPA queries the claim by SAS Commander Maj. Gen. Tim McOwan "that Kopassus was a professional outfit" citing the report by Human Rights Watch report titled “What Did I Do Wrong?” Papuans in Merauke Face Abuses by Indonesian Special Forces," which documents a number of cases of West Papuans who were tortured by Kopassus troops.

Special Forces will always be used in conflict areas and AWPA is concerned that any training given to the Indonesian Special Forces will be used against the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self determination. In an article in the Asia Pacific Bulletin No. 68 "Thinking beyond KOPASSUS:why us security assistance to Indonesia needs recalibrating", it quotes

"Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argues in the May/June 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs, "the effectiveness and credibility of the United States will only be as good as the effectiveness, credibility, and sustainability of its local partners." http://www.eastwestcenter.org/printFriendly.php?object=publication&class_call=view&pub_ID=3553&noButton=1

Joe Collins said the same applies to Australia. Our troops will be tainted by the behavior of those it trains and the world will know it. We are also concerned by the fact that Kopassus may receive training in urban warfare within Australia. Is it not time for Commander Maj. Gen. Tim McOwan and some of his troops to visit West Papua to ascertain the views of the West Papuan people on Australian military involvement with Kopassus?

ENDS

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