The National (PNG): Western nations ‘had vested interest in Suharto regime’

By JOHN PASSANT

 WAR criminal Suharto is dead. Look for the tears from his Western supporters
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In their hypocrisy they may recognise he was a dictator, but, they will rationalise, he was “our” dictator.

The man was a mass murderer.

In the years 1965 and 1966, he and his army supporters seized power and killed up to one million Indonesias.

In the name of anti-communism, they killed Chinese people because they were Chinese. This is genocide.

The West was up to its armpits in the blood. The US supplied the names of Communist Party members to Suharto and his cronies. They knew these people would be murdered.

American embassy officials ticked off their names as the army killed them. What did it matter if a few commies were assassinated? Then Australian prime minister then Harold Holt said that “with 500,000 to a million communist sympathisers knocked off, I think it’s safe to assume a reorientation has taken place”.

And how did Australia described this genocide? A “cleansing process” said the Australian embassy in Jakarta.

Ethnic cleansing is a better description.

But the West wanted Suharto in power for its own interests so the mere mass murder of one million people was of no importance to the US or Australia. And then there is East Timor. During the 23 years of brutal occupation, East Timor’s population fell by a third – about 200,000 dead.

Australia (in particular Gough Whitlam) supported this takeover and Malcolm Fraser’s government gave de jure recognition to the Indonesian regime in East Timor. Australia even trained Indonesian army troops, which were used in East Timor (and West Papua) to suppress the indigenous population.

In West Papua from 1969 when the UN supported Act of Free Choice (what Orwellian words!) saw Indonesia installed as the new colonial ruler, the Indonesian army has killed over 100,000 people.

Yet despite all thes murders – murders well known to the West – Suharto has received massive support from the US, Britain and Australia in particular.

Indeed, as Iraq and Afghanistan show (once again), when the West thinks it is in their interests to do so they will don the gloves of blood themselves, rather than rely on proxies like Suharto.

Then there is the looting of the Indonesian coffers. Suharto, his family and cronies were corrupt. Transparency International claimed that Suharto and his family filched as much as K104 billion from the country’s coffers.

The criminal case against him for this corruption ended because of his ill health. The civil case will be settled out of court. I wonder who presently in power in Indonesia benefits from these decisions.

International courts have been useless in the fight against this mass murderer, a man clearly guilty of war crimes and genocide.

That’s because the West did not want him tried. He was their ally.

And further, any action could implicate those who aided and abetted Suharto, like the Australian leaders Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard.

Apparently only those criminals who lose the West’s support (like Saddam Hussein) suffer some sort of retribution.

Certainly those from the West who support dictators are never charged.

And those Western leaders (like Bush, Blair and Howard) who invade other countries and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians are never brought to justice. Individual terrorism is abhorrent. State terrorism, whether by Suharto or his Western backers, is just as abhorrent.

Near the site of the Bali bombing – a bombing in which 88 Australians were murdered – there are mass graves from 1965 and 1966. There are about 88,000dead there.  Australia’s outrage over Bali should extend to those Suharto murdered. It does not. Only when the working people of Indonesia are in power, instead of Suharto’s cronies, will Indonesia be free of its murderous past. – onlineopinion

  • John Passant is a Canberra writer

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