25 Jun 2009

Call on Australia to review military links with Indonesia over Papua abuse

6:37 pm on 25 June 2009

A new report calls on Australia to cut ties with Indonesia's special forces group, Kopassus, over new evidence it is terrorising civilians in the Papua region.

The Human Rights Watch report says Kopassus plucks Papuans from streets and homes, without legal authority, and subjects them to brutal beatings and torture.

Based on interviews with locals in Merauke, the report says Kopassus soldiers act with complete impunity, and local police are too scared to end their reign of terror.

The report says abuses occur regularly and have nothing to do with Indonesia's war against separatist guerillas in Papua.

Australia's relationship with Kopassus has been controversial because of the group's well-documented involvement in human rights abuses in East Timor, Aceh and Papua.

But under the previous government, Australia resumed joint training with Kopassus in 2005, ending a long moratorium.

The report says Australia and other countries should withhold such training until Indonesia properly investigates abuses and holds the perpetrators accountable.