MILITARY THREATENS TO SUE ELSHAM OVER PAPUA ALLEGATIONS

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (September 27, 2002 - Laksamana.Net/Kabar-Irian)--Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) commander General Endriartono Sutarto says the military will file a lawsuit against the Human Rights Advocacy Institute (ELSHAM) for its allegation that members of the Army's elite Special Forces (Kopassus) were involved in last month's murder of two Americans and an Indonesian near the Freeport gold mine in Papua province.

"We'll take legal action unless ELSHAM can show strong evidence of the involvement of TNI personnel. If they can, we will then take measures against the servicemen involved," he was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara on Friday.

TNI spokesman Sjafrie Sjamsuddin -- a former Kopassus officer accused of involvement in a string of human rights violations -- also said a lawsuit would be filed if the military finds ELSHAM allegations to be false.

ELSHAM chairman John Rumbiak on Wednesday said there were indications that Kopassus members were involved in the August 31 killings of the three men who worked at Freeport's international school.

He said a local man, who accompanied at least five soldiers to the ambush site shortly before the killings, overheard the officers sending a radio message on the movement of two vehicles carrying the teachers on a road leading to the mine.

Rumbiak said the witness, a Kopassus informant, was dropped off on the side of the road while the soldiers continued some 200 meters (660 feet) to the ambush site. About 30 minutes later about 100 rounds of ammunition were fired at the vehicles carrying the teachers.

Human rights activists from the outset have suspected the Army -- specifically Kopassus -- was behind the killings.

Last year Kopassus allegedly murdered Papuan independence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay.

 

CLAIMS INDONESIAN ARMY IS PROMOTING VIOLENCE IN PAPUA

ABC Radio Asia Pacific Program Correspondents' Report September 29, 2002

One of Australia's top Indonesia-watchers says that Indonesia's military is promoting, not fighting, communal violence. Dr. Harold Crouch has told the annual Indonesia Update Conference that it serves the interests of the Indonesian Army to keep violence going in areas such as Aceh and West Papua.

HAMISH ROBERTSON: One of Australia's top Indonesia-watchers says that Indonesia's military is promoting, not fighting, communal violence.

Dr. Harold Crouch has told the annual Indonesia Update Conference that it serves the interests of the Indonesian Army to keep violence going in areas such as Aceh and West Papua. As Graeme Dobell reports this is at odds with the argument by the Australian Government this week that Indonesia's military - the TNI - is a crucial force for stability.

GRAEME DOBELL: Australia's defense minister, Robert Hill, is keen to resume the defense relationship with Indonesia building up military links in areas like intelligence, training and maritime surveillance. Senator Hill says Indonesia's military leadership wants to develop a more professional force and is a key to maintaining order.

ROBERT HILL: TNI will remain a fundamentally important institution in Indonesia? It's handling of difficult internal security problems across the archipelago will have a crucial bearing on stability. As a secular organization it will remain key to the government's efforts to promote tolerance and harmony between Indonesia's many different faiths.

GRAEME DOBELL: But Dr. Harold Crouch has spent the last two years in Jakarta as the head of international crisis group, and he describes and Indonesian military still making its own rules. The army gets only one-third of its budget from the Indonesian state. The other two-thirds of the budget is raised by the military itself -- from businesses enterprises and from corruption.

HAROLD CROUCH: The largest source of military finance is actually from illegal activities. Indeed most of the funds that are raised from what can only be called extortion. Let's say for example huge markups on military purchases, protection from foreign and Indonesian enterprises, but say the big petrol and chemical plants, big mines and that sort of thing. Wherever there is illegal mining, illegal logging, illegal fishing, cattle rustling, whatever, smuggling, you'll find military elements.

GRAEME DOBELL: Dr. Crouch says a tacit agreement with the government means there are no real prosecutions of military officers for human rights crimes. Indeed, he says, officers keep regional conflicts on the boil to serve their own interests.

HAROLD CROUCH: It's hard to prove, but there are sort of indications that this affects the senior officers. But senior officers actually have an interest in these conflicts continuing. Just take some of the big petro-chemical or mining American firms. If there's complete peace in Aceh and Papua, are they going to make contributions to the military? Of course not. Now I'm not suggesting the military has an interest in starting a full-scale war again. At the same time, they don't want a full-scale peace. They like to keep the pot boiling basically and that is very profitable for the military.

HAMISH ROBERTSON: Dr Harold Crouch. That report by Graeme Dobell.

For additional reports from ABC Australia News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/ABC News Online.

For additional reports from Asia Pacific, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Asia Pacific Gateway.

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