21 Dec 2010

Australia overly-enthusiastic to engage with Kopassus, says Papua expert

11:30 am on 21 December 2010

The Indonesian government has denied reports it threatened to derail US President Obama's visit to the country unless the ban on training for Indonesian special forces was lifted.

Based on diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, it's been reported that Indonesia's President Yudhoyono privately told US officials the ban was the "litmus test" of ties between their countries.

The ban, imposed in 1999 because of human rights abuses attributed to the special forces, or Kopassus, was overturned last July following frequent encouragement from Australia for the US to resume ties.

Jim Elmslie of Sydney University's West Papua Project says Australia has been too enthusiastic to engage with Kopassus:

"Kopassus that has been involved in a litany of human rights abuses for many many years and which appear to be ongoing from all our reports from Papua. So it is disappointing because it does put Australia with some residual responsibility because we are supporting these units."