Australia committed to military cooperation with Indonesia

Country seen as an ‘important partner’ in a region where China is becoming increasingly assertive.

Melbourne, Australia – Australia says it will continue to provide military training, conduct joint exercises and export weapons to Indonesia despite increased violence and allegations of human rights abuses in West Papua, in the far east of the archipelago, where conflict has been rumbling for decades.

The Australian Department of Defence confirmed in a statement to Al Jazeera that Anthony Albanese’s government, which was elected in May, would continue to supply arms to Indonesian forces and provide them with military training.

“Indonesia is one of Australia’s most important partners. Australia will continue to conduct joint exercises, provide military and policy training, and – consistent with appropriate legislation – export military equipment to Indonesia,” the statement said.

Despite some rocky patches, Australia has had a longstanding military relationship with Indonesia, including joint training and weapons supply, with Thales Australia selling three Bushmaster troop carriers to Kopassus, Indonesia’s elite forces, in 2014.

Military units, such as Kopassus, conduct joint training exercises with the Australian SAS, the country’s special forces, while Detachment 88 — also known as Densus 88, a counterterrorism force set up in the wake of the 2002 Bali Bombings — gets funding and training from both Australia and the United States.

Such initiatives have been credited with reducing the threat from hardline groups, but Indonesian forces remain under scrutiny over allegations of serious human rights abuses in West Papua, where Indigenous people have been fighting for independence for 50 years.

Indonesia moved into the resource-rich region in the early 1960s, formalising its control through a controversial, United Nations-approved referendum in 1969.

“Indonesia is one of Australia’s most important partners. Australia will continue to conduct joint exercises, provide military and policy training, and – consistent with appropriate legislation – export military equipment to Indonesia,” the statement said.

Despite some rocky patches, Australia has had a longstanding military relationship with Indonesia, including joint training and weapons supply, with Thales Australia selling three Bushmaster troop carriers to Kopassus, Indonesia’s elite forces, in 2014.

Military units, such as Kopassus, conduct joint training exercises with the Australian SAS, the country’s special forces, while Detachment 88 — also known as Densus 88, a counterterrorism force set up in the wake of the 2002 Bali Bombings — gets funding and training from both Australia and the United States.

Such initiatives have been credited with reducing the threat from hardline groups, but Indonesian forces remain under scrutiny over allegations of serious human rights abuses in West Papua, where Indigenous people have been fighting for independence for 50 years.

Indonesia moved into the resource-rich region in the early 1960s, formalising its control through a controversial, United Nations-approved referendum in 1969.

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