Why did we train an officer from the Kopassus Force?
Why did we train an officer from the notorious
Indonesian Kopassus force?
16 June 2012
The Indonesia Human Rights Committee was shocked to learn that the New Zealand Defence Force hosted a Kopassus officer, Major Edwin Sumanta at its six month Staff and Command training course in 2011.
We have been a constant critic of military ties to Indonesia, since these links were restored in 2007, but the acceptance of a Kopassus officer onto an elite New Zealand training programme marks a new low.
The Kopassus Special Forces have a long and bloody record of involvement in human rights crimes and repressing legitimate dissent. Kopassus officers have never been held to account for their numerous documented crimes in Jakarta, East Timor and Aceh In West Papua.
A Kopassus operation was responsible for the death of New Zealand journalist Gary Cunningham (and four colleagues) at Balibo in East Timor in 1975.
Does the NZDF not know or do they not care about the ongoing abuses perpetrated by a Kopassus officers against the West Papuan people? In 2001 Kopassus officers killed West Papuan leader Theys Eluay. International outrage led to some low level officers receiving short sentences, but the army chief of staff called the convicted men ‘heroes’.. In 2009 Human Rights Watch exposed the Kopassus practice of detaining, beating and torturing indigenous Papuans in Merauke apparently randomly and certainly without any legal authority. And last year leaked documents exposed a Kopassus spy network that concentrates on tracking peaceful activists, politicians, church and tribal leaders.
New Zealand training sends an ‘all is forgiven’ signal to the Indonesian authorities, but it is an insult to the countless victims of Kopassus brutality. When will they know justice?