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HRW: Larger awareness for human rights concerns in Indonesia NEW YORK/JAKARTA - Human Rights Watch on Tuesday said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should raise military accountability for abuses, freedom of expression, and the rights of religious minorities during her visit to Indonesia from Thursday through Sunday.

Human Rights Watch made the appeal in a letter sent to the U.S. official on Tuesday. Clinton is expected to arrive in Bali a year after Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary at that time, formally announced the resumption of U.S. military relations with Indonesia's special forces, Kopassus, which removed the last significant barrier to full-fledged US-Indonesian military ties.

"Closer U.S. military ties with Indonesia were a reward for better behavior by Indonesian soldiers, yet one year later atrocities by the military still go unpunished," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "This is an important opportunity for Clinton to speak publicly about the need for genuine military reform."

On July 22, 2010, Secretary Gates announced that the Indonesian Defense Ministry "publicly pledged to protect human rights and advance human rights accountability and committed to suspend from active duty military officials credibly accused of human rights abuses, remove from military service any member convicted of such abuses, and cooperate with the prosecution of any members of the military who have violated human rights."

However, Human Rights Watch believes that the Indonesian military has failed to live up to its pledges to the U.S. government to improve accountability.

In one example it gave, in January this year, three Indonesian soldiers received 8-to-10 month sentences for "disobeying orders" in the May 2010 alleged torture of two farmers in Papua. None were charged with torture despite video evidence showing the soldiers kicking the victims, threatening one with a knife to his face, and repeatedly jabbing the second in the genitals with burning wood. A U.S. Defense Department official characterized the prosecution of the case as "a success."

Human Rights Watch also urged Clinton to raise concerns about several laws that criminalize the peaceful expression of political, religious, and other views. In March, the West Java provincial government officially banned the Ahmadiyah religious sect, outlawing all activities of the group.

Human Rights Watch also urged Clinton to call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to release immediately more than 100 activists currently behind bars in Indonesia for peaceful acts of free expression.

"Laws stifling dissent are used against peaceful critics, and violent attacks on religious minorities are getting worse," Pearson said. "If the U.S. really wants to support Indonesia as a rights-respecting democracy, then Clinton should not shy away from stressing the importance of rolling back practices that undermine freedom of religion and speech."


Tags: awareness, military


Posted in Human rights @ 20 July 2011 03:51 CET by Blog Bot · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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