JAKARTA — Human Rights Watch has urged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise military accountability for abuses in Indonesia during her visit to the country this week.
Clinton is due to arrive on the holiday island of Bali on Thursday for meetings with leaders of Southeast Asian countries at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum.
"Closer US military ties with Indonesia were a reward for better behavior by Indonesian soldiers, yet one year later atrocities by the military still go unpunished," Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson said in a press release Tuesday.
"This is an important opportunity for Clinton to speak publicly about the need for genuine military reform," Pearson said.
Last year, the US lifted a 12-year suspension of contacts with Kopassus, the elite special unit accused of widespread abuse, mostly under military strongman Suharto's rule which ended in 1998.
In January, a court martial jailed three soldiers for up to 10 months for abuse and insubordination after graphic video footage showed them torturing civilians in restive Papua province.
In footage posted on YouTube, the soldiers were seen applying a burning stick to the genitals of an unarmed man and threatening another with a knife as they interrogated them about the location of a weapons cache.
The New York-based watchdog also urged Clinton to raise the issues of freedom of expression and the rights of the religious minorities, such as the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect.
Local Islamists consider the sect "deviant" as its members believe that Mohammed was not the last prophet.
In February, an Islamist mob murdered three Ahmadiyah adherents in Banten province, the most horrific in a string of attacks on the sect in Indonesia in recent years.
Indonesia's constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of religion and the country of some 240 million people has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.