Army Chief Calls on Kopassus to Dial Back Its Misconduct


SEPTEMBER 25, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia’s Army chief has lashed out at members of Kopassus, the notorious special forces, over two recent incidents in a litany of criminal conduct.

“There are still soldiers from the Indonesian Army who taint the name of their force and the Army with their arrogant and selfish attitudes […] by engaging in misdeeds or even acting against the law,” Gen. Mulyono, the Army chief of staff, said at a ceremony at the Kopassus headquarters in East Jakarta on Friday.

Mulyono stopped short of elaborating, but appears to have been referring to a pair of incidents this year involving Kopassus members. The first occurred in June in the Central Java town of Sukoharjo, when a group of Kopassus members attacked four Air Force personnel during a brawl that erupted at a local cafe. One of the Air Force members was killed in the incident, while the others were injured.

Less than two months later, two Army soldiers – including a Kopassus member – were investigated for their role in the kidnapping of a Malaysian businessman in Jakarta. They were allegedly hired to force the man to pay off his loans to his Indonesian business partners.

“Like the rice plant, the more its buds are filled with grain, the more it bows downward,” Mulyono said of the importance for the elite unit to stay humble. “As soldiers, the higher our ranks and the more professional skills we have, the more humbled we should be and the more ready to give our best service to the public.”

Kopassus has a long history of engaging in criminal conduct, including myriad human rights violations during the military’s occupation of East Timor, Papua and Aceh. The most notorious incident in recent years occurred in March 2013, when a fully armed group of the special forces soldiers stormed a police jail in Yogyakarta and gunned down four detainees being held on suspicion of killing a Kopassus member.

The military justified the summary execution as an expression of the soldiers’ loyalty, and a court martial later sentenced the perpetrators to jail for 21 months to 11 years.