WASHINGTON DC, KOMPAS.com – President Donald Trump’s administration has said it will welcome Defense Minister Indonesia Prabowo Subianto to Pentagon, headquarters military United States of America.
The United States has lifted a ban on Prabowo from entering the country over allegations of human rights violations and military crimes, such as in East Timor.
However, since being appointed Indonesian Minister of Defense last year, the Trump administration has seen Prabowo as a key figure in deepening defense relations with Indonesia.
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Especially after Washington noticed that the Indonesian military was being persuaded by Russia and China.
A senior US defense official strongly defended the decision to welcome Prabowo who was also scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“Prabowo is the Minister of Defense appointed by the President of Indonesia, who was elected twice, from the third largest democracy in the world,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“He is our partner, a very important partnership, and it’s important for us to engage with him and treat him as a partner.”
Prabowo will receive official briefings elsewhere in the Washington DC area, after Jakarta mulls buying fighter jets which also attract interest from Russia.
Amnesty International and other human rights supporters criticized the US State Department’s decision to grant him a visa.
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It has been nearly 20 years since the United States refused to grant a visa to go to their country, including when Prabowo’s son graduated from Boston University.
In 2012, Prabowo said that visas to the United States were also denied, after he was accused of sparking riots that killed hundreds of people in 1998 that ended with the resignation of President Suharto.
“The State Department’s decision to lift the ban Prabowo Subianto is really the abrupt opposite of a longstanding US foreign policy, “said Amnesty International US Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, Joanne Lin.
Gerindra Party Chairperson Prabowo Subianto (left) and Golkar Party Chairperson Airlangga Hartarto (right) said goodbye to journalists after delivering a statement to reporters after a political gathering at Prabowo’s private residence, Jalan Kertanegara, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta, Monday (6/7/2020 ). The closed political gathering between the two political parties discussed the importance of stability between political parties and the discourse of a coalition in the 2020 simultaneous regional elections. BETWEEN PHOTOS / Aditya Pradana Putra / hp.
Joanne called Prabowo’s visit a “disaster for human rights in Indonesia”.
Senator Patrick Leahy, author of a law banning US military assistance to foreign military units that violates human rights, has joined in criticizing the Trump administration’s decision.
He said Prabowo Subianto “did not meet the requirements to enter this country.”
“By issuing a visa to Defense Minister Prabowo, President [Trump] and the Minister of Foreign Affairs [Amerika Serikat] once again it has shown that for them ‘law and order’ is an empty slogan that ignores the importance of justice, “he said.
Prabowo is known to have enlisted in the military at the age of 19 and six years after joining Kopassus, the Army’s special forces.
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He led the Mawar Team, which was accused of kidnapping student activists who were involved in the movement to overthrow Suharto.
Thirteen activists since then are still missing.
Prabowo has consistently denied involvement in any alleged human rights violations, including in Jakarta, East Timor and West Papua.
But Prabowo has become a political player, who has repeatedly run for president.
Meanwhile, the United States is expected to renew a warning to Jakarta about a massive arms purchase from Moscow.
According to some experts, buying Russian fighter jets could trigger US sanctions under the Counter-US Enemies with Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
“We raised the issue of CAATSA risk in all our conversations with the Ministry of Defense,” the US official said.
The Indonesian Ministry of Defense refused to comment on Prabowo Subianto’s trip to the United States.
Indonesia’s wish list includes a “road map” for getting the F-35 fighter jet, one Indonesian official told Reuters who do not want their names published.
“[Tapi] to be honest we didn’t expect much, “he said.
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