1) Indonesia says Uncle Sam to lift last bans on Kopassus troops
AMANDA HODGE,NIVELL RAYDA
The Australian12:00AM February 21, 2018
Indonesia says the US has undertaken to lift the remaining restrictions on engagement with Indonesia’s Kopassus special forces, ending a 19-year ban on the unit linked to civilian killings and human rights abuses in West Papua, Aceh and East Timor.
Former Indonesian military commander Moeldoko, now chief of staff to President Joko Widodo, said US ambassador Joseph Donovan had confirmed on Monday during a meeting at the presidential palace that the US would “gradually lift” the last restrictions on the military unit.
This follows a request last month from Defence Minister Ryacudu Ryamizard to his US counterpart Jim Mattis to end the ban, imposed in 1999, on US engagement with the unit.
Successive Indonesian governments have lobbied for the ban to be lifted, but have had only partial success despite support from the Pentagon. Former president Barack Obama in 2010 lifted the outright ban on US military contact with Kopassus, although its 6000 members are still banned from travelling to the US or training with US forces.
In a statement issued after Monday’s meeting, General Moeldoko said Mr Donovan had emphasised the importance of co-operation between the two armed forces in preserving stability in the Asia-Pacific region and said the US intended to “reopen the possibility of a military training co-operation, (beginning) with Kopassus”.
But the US embassy in Jakarta appeared reluctant to confirm General Moeldoko’s statement yesterday, or give a time line for when US training of Kopassus might resume.
Instead an embassy spokesman said: “As Secretary Mattis’ trip to Indonesia demonstrated, we are committed to deepening our defence co-operation with Indonesia and are seeking opportunities for further engagement in various areas. All engagement activities are conducted in accordance with US law.
“We support Indonesia’s efforts to promote human rights and the rule of law, and we continue to discuss the importance of accountability for past abuses.”
The move would be in line with the unveiling last month of a shift in US national security focus from counter-terrorism to contain the rising power of China and Russia.
American forces are prevented under the “Leahy Law” from providing assistance or training to units known to have engaged in human rights abuses, unless they have addressed the abuses and held those responsible to account.
Mr Mattis said last month he understood Kopassus had turned a corner and removed those from the unit believed responsible for a crackdown on student activists under the Suharto regime, as well as the deaths of independence and secessionist activists in East Timor, Aceh and Papua.
Australia also cut ties with Kopassus after its members fired on Australian soldiers sent to East Timor in the lead-up to independence in 2002. Its ban also cited links between Kopassus and the disappearance and killings of political activists and civilians.
Canberra lifted the restrictions about a decade ago following a series of deadly bomb attacks in Bali and on the Australian embassy in Jakarta, rationalising that improving the skills of Kopassus was in Australia’s interest and could save Australian lives.
Amnesty International Indonesia spokesman Usman Hamid said the military had not fulfilled its promise to bring to justice high-ranking officers responsible for kidnapping and murder in Papua, East Timor and Aceh.
He also said those accused of human rights violations continued to enjoyed strategic positions within the military and in the Joko administration.
2) Lukas-Enembe, John-Wempi to face off in Papua election
Nethy Dharma Somba The Jakarta Post
Jayapura, Papua | Tue, February 20, 2018| 07:03 pm
After days of postponement, the Papua Elections Commission (KPUD) announced on Tuesdaythat incumbent pair Lukas Enembe - Klemen Tinal and the pair of John Wempi Wetipo - Hebel Melkias Suwae would compete in the province's gubernatorial election in June.
The Papuan People's Assembly (MRP) declared that both pairs were indigenous Papuans, a necessary requirement to run in the election.
The Lukas-Klemen pair is endorsed by the Democratic Party, the Golkar Party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), the United Development Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the NasDem Party, the Hanura Party, the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI).
John and Hebel, meanwhile, are supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Gerindra Party.
"The MRP conducted a factual verification to check whether the four people originate from Papua. They all passed the verification process," KPUD Papua chairman Adam Arisoi said in a plenary meeting in Jayapura.
The national date to announce candidates was initially set for Feb.12, however the country’s easternmost province was late to confirm its election candidates, as the MRP was late to submit the verification documents to the election offices of the four candidates’ home regions.
Article 12 of the 2001 Special Autonomy Law stipulates that all candidates in the Papua election must be native Papuans, and that the MRP has the authority to determine whether or not the applicants meet the requirement. (foy/ebf)