Amnesty International USA statement: Suharto leaves violent legacy
January 28, 2008
Ex-General Suharto of Indonesia died quietly in bed at age 86, unlike up to a million Indonesians his loyalists had killed after taking power in a coup, and at least a hundred thousand killed in East Timor. Suharto was a brutal dictator, and his death does not end his violent legacy.
After Suharto resigned in disgrace in 1998, attempts to charge him for his crimes proved futile and charges were dropped. The Indonesian military continues to dominate politics and business.
Amnesty International USA is particularly concerned by United States support of Indonesia’s military (TNI). In November 2006, Congress defined restrictions on Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and export of “lethal” military equipment to Indonesia until there was accountability by TNI, especially their militias for killings and violence following East Timor’s 1999 vote for independence. Two days after the bill became law, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, citing the “war on terror,” issued a waiver removing these restrictions.
Perpetrators of human rights violations continue to enjoy impunity for violations which occurred in East Timor and in Aceh before the tsunami, and continue in Papua, Indonesia. Despite promises to improve human rights, such abuses continue in Papua, where government forces torture, kill and imprison opposition figures and threaten church and community leaders who sometimes “disappear.” Two Papuans, whom Amnesty International believes are prisoners of conscience, were given long prison sentences for non-violent expression of their beliefs.
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