Indonesia: April 16, 2002

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Three men described as "rogue army officers." have been arrested for the murder of Papuan separatist leader last November. In Aceh, rebel violence left two soldiers and three rebels dead. Although the government has been cracking down on illegal army operations (especially those that involve intimidating civilians with murder and violence), there are still a lot of officers who believe, and practice, an "ends justify the means" approach to civil unrest.  Thus a lot of civilians are killed by troops in separatist areas like Aceh and Papua. When the army reports "rebels killed," the dead are often just civilians the troops thought (often on very flimsy evidence) were rebels. These attitudes among the troops have long existed in the region, and the training provided by the United States involved a lot of instruction demonstrating why the traditional ways of treating civilians is counterproductive, and showing more humane and effective methods. Ironically, the US instructors were blamed for the Indonesian troop's bad habits (based on no evidence other than a desire to criticize American military assistance.) US military assistance is about to resume, after a long hiatus because of the political unrest in Indonesia. 

 

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