Australia needs to maintain security co-op with Indonesia: DM

12:34, September 29, 2010      

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Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith Wednesday defended Australia's involvement in a joint training exercise with Indonesia's controversial special forces Kopassus.

Australia needed to maintain security cooperation with Indonesia, and Kopassus had come a long way from an era of human rights abuses, Smith said.

The Australian elite Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) recently conducted a training exercise with a unit of Kopassus responsible for counter-terrorism in Indoneasia.

Australia's involvement prompted criticism from Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission which said Kopassus needed human rights not military training.

Smith said Australia was well aware that in the past there had been human rights breaches by people associated with Kopassus.

The practice of Australian governments for a long period of time had been to minimize contact with anyone in Kopassus subject to human rights breach allegations or accusations.

"But Indonesia and Kopassus have come a long way," Smith told Sky News on Wednesday. "We are now dealing with a modern Indonesia. "

Australia officially resumed training with Indonesian special forces in 2005, and since then has participated in a series of activities.

According to Australia Associated Press, cooperation with Kopassus has always been controversial because of the organization 's long and well-documented history of killings and abuses in East Timor, Aceh and West Papua.

Source: Xinhua


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