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Jakarta Post

Govt to move ahead with TNI antiterror unit despite criticism

  • Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Batam, Riau Islands   /   Tue, May 22, 2018   /   10:16 am
Govt to move ahead with TNI antiterror unit despite criticism Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko (second left) and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti (second right) accompany President Joko Widodo (center) on May 8 to speak with protesting fishermen at the State Palace in Central Jakarta. (Antara/Wahyu Putro A)

Presidential Chief of Staff Gen. (ret.) Moeldoko has said the government is pushing forward its plan to set up the Indonesian Military’s Joint Special Operations Command (Koopssusgab) to tackle terrorism despite criticism from several parties, including the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

“There is no time [for debate] anymore. It has been carried out. The problem is no longer about whether we 'agree or disagree’ with the plan,” the former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander told journalists on Monday in Batam, Riau Islands.

Moeldoko declined to comment on Komnas HAM’s objections to the plan to form the Koopssusgab. “Let Komnas HAM bear the burden. Other parties have found that everything is fine [...]. The point is how to respect human rights. We are not afraid of human rights because we want to protect the people. Human rights is not something we should be afraid of, but something we should respect,” said Moeldoko.

He said Koopssusgab personnel were taught to always respect and uphold human rights so they could work optimally in the field. “If the soldiers were afraid of human rights, they would not be able to [do their jobs],” he added.

Moeldoko initiated the Koopssusgab in 2015, when he was the TNI commander, but the unit was suspended by his successor, Gatot Nurmantyo.

Involving the military in counterterrorism operations has raised concerns among human right activists, particularly regarding the possibility of human rights abuses committed in counterterrorism measures.

Moeldoko said the Koopssusgab was the government’s response to terrorism issues that were becoming more complex. “We are preparing the Koopssusgab in anticipation of the state challenges we may face in the future.”

On Friday, President Joko Widodo agreed to reinstate the Koopsusgab to assist the National Police in antiterrorism operations under certain conditions.

The joint command is composed of special forces from the TNI's three branches: the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), the Navy's Denjaka special squad and the Air Force's Bravo 90 unit. (hol/ebf)