back to top

Indonesia Has Suspended Military Cooperation With Australia

"[There are] ups and downs in every cooperation between two national forces."

Posted on

Indonesia has suspended military cooperation with Australia after teaching materials and remarks made at a Perth base last year offended an Indonesian military officer, sparking an army investigation.

Indonesian newspaper Kompas reported on Wednesday that Major General Wuryanto had halted military cooperation between the neighbouring countries.

Kompas reported the suspension was sparked by an instructor from the Indonesian Special Forces group Kopassus finding a piece of material that insulted the Indonesian military at an Australian base in Perth.

After speaking to the head of the academy, the instructor reportedly saw another piece of material that he found offensive to Indonesia's state philosophy, Pancasila.

Pancasila are five principles that form Indonesia's national ideology:

1. Belief in the one and only God;

2. Just and civilised humanity;

3. The unity of Indonesia;

4. Democracy guided by deliberations among representatives and;

5. Social justice for the whole people of Indonesia.

Wuryanto did not provide the reason for the suspension, only saying it was for "technical matters".

"[There are] ups and downs in every cooperation between two national forces," he told the ABC.

Australian defence minister Marise Payne said the Australian army had looked into the incident and an investigation is currently being finalised.

"Late last year concerns were raised by an Indonesian TNI officer about some teaching materials and remarks at an army language training facility in Australia," she said.

"The Australian Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, wrote to his Indonesian counterpart, General Gatot Nurmantyo, giving an undertaking that this matter would be addressed seriously and we would inquire into issues raised.

"Indonesia has informed Australia that defence cooperation would be suspended. As a result, some interaction between the two defence organisations has been postponed until the matter is resolved. Cooperation in other areas is continuing."

Payne said Australia would work with Indonesia to restore full cooperation. The broader context of Australian-Indonesian relations is in "very good shape", she said.

Australia's maritime cooperation with Indonesian hangs on the bilateral Lombok treaty, signed in 2006, which requires both countries to share intelligence on security, defence, counter-terrorism, and people-smuggling.

The fourth principle of the treaty states: "The Parties undertake, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any disputes that might arise between them by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace, security and justice are not endangered."

Without it, Australia will be left to conduct its own military patrols and operations against people-smuggling without intelligence from the Indonesian government.

Indonesia most recently suspended joint military exercises with Australia in 2013, when it was revealed the government had attempted to tap then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's phone.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.