Do Not Treat Murderous, Abusive Military Forces as U.S. Allies

Target: James Mattis, United States Secretary of Defense

Goal: Hold an infamous international special force accountable for alleged crimes against civilians.

Torture, poisoning, enforced ‘disappearance’…murder; in the past, these actions represented the worst forms of military-related human rights abuse. In the past, these horrific abuses merited swift condemnation and calls for action. In the present, these atrocities are swept under the rug by our current administration, seen as nothing more than inconvenient obstacles to military partnerships. Kopassus, the Special Forces Command of Indonesia, allegedly made the aforementioned crimes standard operating practice in the past few decades.

A few weeks ago, these troops ‘entertained’ Secretary of Defense James Mattis during a show filled with snake blood-drinking, brick-smashing, and other assorted forms of ritualistic violence. The Defense Secretary is currently negotiating plans to resume military cooperation with the Indonesian forces, most of whom have gone unpunished for their alleged crimes. Previously, U.S. assistance and aid to these forces halted as a result of Kopassus’ inhumane actions, with immediate demands for reform included in the ceased cooperation.

The Indonesian government did promise action against the alleged abuses, particularly in regards to high-profile cases involving the kidnapping of student activists and the murder of another prominent activist. While some Kopassus personnel were convicted of these crimes, none have been confirmed as serving a single day in jail. Rather, punishment has typically entailed letting the accused perpetrators of these crimes retire or, worse yet, transfer to different military branches where they can continue their abuses. While Secretary Mattis defends the efforts of Kopassus to clean up its ranks, even today detentions, spying, and rough handling of suspected activists is still documented.

Sign this petition and urge Secretary of Defense Mattis to reevaluate the U.S. military’s potential partnership with a force that, by all accounts, still deals in the business of intolerable, brutal force.


Dear Secretary Mattis,

War crimes constitute the grossest abuse of authority, creating military and police forces seen not as liberators or aides but as instruments of fear and oppression. For the past couple of decades, Kopassus has stood as one of the most brutal faces of military abuse on the world stage. While you may believe these forces have reformed their ways in accordance with the Leahy Law, is this really the case?

You would likely agree that egregious crimes deserve egregious punishment, yet few if any of the members of Kopassus have ever seen the inside of a jail cell. Instead, they are retired in comfort or placed in other prominent positions. In fact, one now leads the Indonesian military intelligence agency as a lieutenant general. Another who has been charged with leading a 300-casulaty massacre now leads a powerful political party. Even today, accounts of human rights abuses continue to find their way online – right alongside the ‘entertaining’ rituals that Kopassus members perform for prominent figures during propaganda displays.

Before you give the aid and allegiance of the U.S. military to these forces, consider why ties were cut and if a proposed partnership is worth the price paid.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tony Webster

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One Comment

  1. Gen Agustsson says:

    stop all wars now! its wrong at all levels.

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