Wikileaks case studies: US cynical ties with killers revealed

January 22, 2011

A number of Wikileaks revelations have shown that US officials, despite their public stance, have been well aware of corruption and human rights abuses of regimes it has supported. In some cases, the US funded these regimes and trained their military.

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A leaked September 2009 US cable indicates that US officials are aware that in West Papua, the Indonesian military (TNI) are responsible for serious human rights abuses and corruption.

Despite this, the US government overturned its ban on US military assistance to the Kopassus elite special forces in July. The ban had been in place for more than a decade due to human rights abuses.

West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia for more than four decades. The cable confirms the “chronic underdevelopment” of West Papua and the strong support for self-determination: “the region is politically marginalized and many Papuans harbor separatist aspirations.”

In response to a riot by Papuans, the cable said: “It is clear that the police rounded up a miscellany of perceived trouble-makers and random individuals and that the prosecutors and judges then railroaded them in a farcical show trial.”

The cable referred to concerns by Indonesian officials that the TNI are “a virtual autonomous government entity” in West Papua.

Military commanders have been accused of drug smuggling and illegal logging rackets. “The Indonesian Military (TNI) has far more troops in Papua than it is willing to admit to, chiefly to protect and facilitate TNI’s interests in illegal logging operations.”

The Freeport goldmine in West Papua, largely owned by US corporation Freeport-McMoRan, has been bribing police to act on its behalf against the local people.

An October 2007 cable reveals “candid disclosures by senior Freeport executives about how the company pays members of the Indonesian military and police officers who help secure its operations,” said on December 23.

Sri Lanka

In the Sri Lankan government’s 2009 war on Tamils, up to 50,000 civilians were killed. The US remains a big sponsor of the Sri Lankan military, with a 2007 Human Rights Features report stating: “The US has provided approximately $500,000 annually to the Sri Lankan government under the International Military Education and Training Program (IMET), with additional, more variable financing ($1 million in 2006) under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme.”

A January 15, 2010, cable reveals the US ambassador to Sri Lanka acknowledging that no one would be brought to justice for war crimes because “responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers”.


On June 28, 2009, elected left-wing president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup. Zelaya’s policies (such as raising the minimum wage) threatened the profits of US corporations.

The new regime has jailed, tortured and killed pro-democracy activists. Most nations in the Americas refused to recognise the new regime and broke off ties.

However, for months afterward US government officials said there was not enough information to clearly designate the military coup a “military coup” and to cut off economic and military aid.

Ongoing US political and economic support has been crucial for the coup regime to survive while isolated internationally and under siege by mass protests internally.

Wikileaks reveals that the US embassy in Honduras sent a July 24, 2009, cable with the subject heading “Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup” that stated bluntly that the “forced removal by the military [of President Manuel Zelaya] was clearly illegal, and [Roberto] Micheletti’s ascendance as ‘interim president’ was totally illegitimate”.

Below: April 2010 Real News story on US covering up human rights abuses in Honduras.


Sign the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network's ( petition opposing U.S. engagement with Indonesia's notorious Kopassus special forces. Sign here -

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