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  • Papua Post 1:30 am on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Balas
    Tags: , State Terror,   

    Our model dictator: The death of Suharto is a reminder of the west’s ignoble role in propping up a murderous regime 


    John Pilger
    Monday January 28, 2008
    The Guardian

    In my film Death of a Nation, there is a sequence filmed on board an Australian aircraft flying over the island of Timor. A party is in progress, and two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. “This is an historically unique moment,” says one of them, “that is truly uniquely historical.”
    This was Gareth Evans, Australia’s then foreign minister. The other man was Ali Alatas, the principal mouthpiece of the Indonesian dictator General Suharto, who died yesterday. The year was 1989, and the two were making a grotesquely symbolic flight to celebrate the signing of a treaty that would allow Australia and the international oil and gas companies to exploit the seabed off East Timor, then illegally and viciously occupied by Suharto. The prize, according to Evans, was “zillions of dollars”.

    Beneath them lay a land of crosses: great black crosses etched against the sky, crosses on peaks, crosses in tiers on the hillsides. Filming clandestinely in East Timor, I would walk into the scrub, and there were the crosses. They littered the earth and crowded the eye. In 1993, the foreign affairs committee of Australia’s parliament reported that “at least 200,000” had died under Indonesia’s occupation: almost a third of the population. Yet East Timor’s horror, foretold and nurtured by the US, Britain and Australia, was a sequel. “No single American action in the period after 1945,” wrote the historian Gabriel Kolko, “was as bloodthirsty as its role in Indonesia, for it tried to initiate the massacre.” He was referring to Suharto’s seizure of power in 1965-6, which caused the violent deaths of up to a million people.

    To understand the significance of Suharto is to look beneath the surface of the current world order: the so-called global economy and the ruthless cynicism of those who run it. Suharto was our model mass murderer – “our” is used here advisedly. “One of our very best and most valuable friends,” Thatcher called him. For three decades the south-east Asian department of the Foreign Office worked tirelessly to minimise the crimes of Suharto’s gestapo, known as Kopassus, who gunned down people with British-supplied Heckler & Koch machine guns from British-supplied Tactica “riot control” vehicles.

    A Foreign Office speciality was smearing witnesses to the bombing of East Timorese villages by British-supplied Hawk aircraft – until Robin Cook was forced to admit it was true. Almost a billion pounds in export credit guarantees financed the sale of the Hawks, paid for by the British taxpayer while the arms industry reaped the profit.

    Only the Australians were more obsequious. “We know your people love you,” the prime minister Bob Hawke told the dictator to his face. His successor, Paul Keating, regarded the tyrant as a father figure. Paul Kelly, a prominent Murdoch retainer, led a group of major newspaper editors to Jakarta, to fawn before the mass murderer even though they all knew his grisly record.

    Here lies a clue as to why Suharto, unlike Saddam Hussein, died not on the gallows but surrounded by the finest medical team his secret billions could buy. Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA operations officer in the 1960s, describes the terror of Suharto’s takeover in 1965-6 as “the model operation” for the US-backed coup that got rid of Salvador Allende in Chile seven years later. “The CIA forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders,” he wrote, “[just like] what happened in Indonesia in 1965.” The US embassy in Jakarta supplied Suharto with a “zap list” of Indonesian Communist party members and crossed off the names when they were killed or captured. Roland Challis, BBC south-east Asia correspondent at the time, told me how the British government was secretly involved in this slaughter. “British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down the Malacca Straits so they could take part in the terrible holocaust,” he said. “I and other correspondents were unaware of this at the time … There was a deal, you see.”

    The deal was that Indonesia under Suharto would offer up what Richard Nixon had called “the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in south-east Asia”. In November 1967 the greatest prize was handed out at a remarkable three-day conference sponsored by the Time-Life Corporation in Geneva. Led by David Rockefeller, all the corporate giants were represented: the major oil companies and banks, General Motors, Imperial Chemical Industries, British American Tobacco, Siemens, US Steel and many others. Across the table sat Suharto’s US-trained economists who agreed to the corporate takeover of their country, sector by sector. The Freeport company got a mountain of copper in West Papua. A US/European consortium got the nickel. The giant Alcoa company got the biggest slice of Indonesia’s bauxite. America, Japanese and French companies got the tropical forests of Sumatra. When the plunder was complete, President Lyndon Johnson sent his congratulations on “a magnificent story of opportunity seen and promise awakened”. Thirty years later, with the genocide in East Timor also complete, the World Bank described the Suharto dictatorship as a “model pupil”.

    Shortly before the death of Alan Clark, who under Thatcher was the minister responsible for supplying Suharto with most of his weapons, I interviewed him, and asked: “Did it bother you personally that you were causing such mayhem and human suffering?”

    “No, not in the slightest,” he replied. “It never entered my head.”

    “I ask the question because I read you are a vegetarian and are seriously concerned with the way animals are killed.”


    “Doesn’t that concern extend to humans?”

    “Curiously not.”


    • sheik yer'mami 2:47 pm on Februari 1, 2008 Permalink | Balas

      I am no fan on John Pilger, but when it comes to Indonesia & East Timor he’s got it right.

      But does this dinosaur of old style commie-polit prop understand anything about Islam?

      Has he ever bothered to read Koran, Sira & hadith in order to understand the tenets, the attitudes of Islam and the determination behind the global jihad?

      Its not too late, Pilger: come on board! Islam is the enemy of everything: Capitalism & Communism, Atheism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism etc etc.

      But you know that, being so well travelled and educated! Do something about it!

  • Papua Post 1:55 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Balas
    Tags: , , , State Terror   


    28 January 2008 – It is hard to exaggerate the damage inflicted on Indonesia by the former dictator Suharto who died today, during the 32 years when he ruled the country with a rod of iron until his downfall in May 1998.

    Suharto rose to power on a wave of massacres that killed up to one million people, one of the twentieth century’s worst crimes against humanity for which no one has been brought to justice. Tens of thousands more were incarcerated and held for more than a decade without charge or trial. 13,000 men were banished to the remote island of Buru, out of reach of their families and subject to a harsh physical environment and unremitting hard labour, which caused hundreds of deaths.

    Hundreds of women political prisoners were similarly detained in a remote prison camp in Central Java.

    TAPOL founder Carmel Budiardjo, herself a political prisoner (tapol) for three years, said: “Millions of Indonesians will regret, as I do, the fact that Suharto was never called to account for the terrible crimes perpetrated during his despotic rule. None of the presidents who have held office since 1998 was willing to recognise that the rule of law can only have meaning if those who flout it are brought to justice. Few present or former heads of state the world over have had so much blood on their hands as Suharto.”

    Following the establishment of Suharto’s New Order under which the Indonesian military established a system of pervasive control over the whole population, the initial target of the repression was the Indonesian Communist Party, the PKI, and its associated mass organisations. These organisations with a combined membership of around fifteen million people were banned without any means of redress, while their members and families were subject to discrimination in every sphere of life.

    Once the PKI had been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of its members or sympathisers were either dead, behind bars or purged from the stateapparatus, Suharto turned his attention to the other political parties and mass organisations, forcing them to merge and swear allegiance to the stateideology, Pancasila. Under Suharto’s New Order regime, the vibrant political traditions that had characterised the country up until the imposition of Guided Democracy by his predecessor Sukarno in 1959, were destroyed. In furtherance of the repressive purposes of the military regime installed under Suharto’s command, the population was stripped of all its political rights, the rule of law ceased to function and gross human rights violations occurred without end.

    After Suharto was forced to resign when mass demonstrations swept Indonesia in 1998 in response to the financial crisis engulfing the country, the political constraints on the population were lifted. But the damaging impact of military impunity and the lack of respect for the rule of law have continued to prevail, while associates of Suharto still exert an influence in many parts of the country’s body-politic. There has been no attempt by post-Suharto governments with the single exception of the 20-month presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid, to remove many of the influences of the Suharto regime. Furthermore, a number of the discriminatory laws and regulations are still on the statute book such as Decree No 25 adopted by the MPRS, the Supreme Legislative Assembly, in 1966, which bans the teaching of Marxism-Leninism and which has made it difficult for parties suspected of harbouring communist teachings to obtain recognition and to operate without being harassed.

    It was under Suharto that Indonesia compelled the people of West Papua by force of arms to become a part of the Republic of Indonesia, following the fraudulent Act of Free Choice in 1969. Since then, the West Papuan people have suffered from massive human rights abuses, helpless to halt the unbridled plunder of their natural resources. While the West Papuan people live in abject poverty, the Indonesian state has reaped huge benefits from revenues, royalties and taxes from foreign enterprises such as Freeport which was granted a concession by Suharto to extract copper and gold in 1967, and it will soon start profiting massively from British Petroleum, now renamed Beyond Petroleum, as it starts to exploit West Papua’s natural gas.

    It was under Suharto that Indonesia launched an act of aggression against the people of East Timor (now Timor-Leste) in 1975 and occupied the countryfor over 23 years. Up to 200,000, a third of the population, died from killings or from conflict-related causes. During the occupation, the country’s administration and economy were run by the Indonesian military, 100,000 Timorese were displaced from their homes and re-settled in ‘strategic villages’ while thousands were incarcerated on Atauro island or in prison camps throughout the territory

    It was under Suharto that the province of Aceh was also subject to military operations for nearly thirty years during which time an estimated 15,000 people lost their lives as rampant human rights violations occurred. This situation continued until August 2005 when a peace agreement was signed between the Indonesian government and the resistance movement, GAM.

    Although Suharto was forced to resign in 1998, he never faced charges for the many crimes against humanity that were perpetrated under his New Order regime. The billions of dollars that were plundered by Suharto and his family have still not been accounted for and returned to the state while the former dictator and his offspring continue to control many of the businesses and facilities which they acquired by virtue of the privileges they enjoyed during the New Order. A few months before his death, the World Bank and the UN’s Stolen Assets Recovery initiative named Suharto as the worst head-of-state embezzler in the world.

    Now that the man who caused so much suffering, bereavement and death in Indonesia and Timor-Leste has died, it is beholden upon all of us to keep alive the memory of his crimes and to support the efforts of people in Indonesia to seek justice and redress for the immense damage he inflicted politically and economically on their country.

    TAPOL which was set up in 1973 to campaign for the release of the tens of thousands of political prisoners then being held, will to continue to campaign for human rights, peace and democracy in Indonesia until the legacy of Suharto has been completely erased.

    Contact Carmel Budiardjo on +44 208 771 2904END

    • Andrew 5:51 am on Januari 29, 2008 Permalink | Balas

      General Suharto spent his evil life creating an American version of the Dutch East Indies Corporation (VoC); in 1961 he organised a pathetic attempt at a military invasion of West Papua, while his Freeport friends in Washington got Kennedy to write the “New York Agreement” selling the people of West Papua like cattle to Indonesia.

      After Suharto came to power he gave the colonial minerals to Freeport & related American corporations; and he put the population of Java to work in factories making the cheap American clothes of the 1970s.
      By time America moved its cheap factories to Mexico the people of Java had developed a taste for Colonial Profits of West Papua & other colonies, and they liked it.

    • papuapost 4:47 am on Februari 1, 2008 Permalink | Balas

      Many Indonesians here do support Soeharto. Even his ruling party, Golkar has suggested him to be inaugurated as the National Hero, the Father of Development for Indonesia. Many people are praying for his forgiveness, they are praying to their Allah to give him a good place for him after his death.

      Particularly Javanese seems could not criticise him, as it is somewhat taboo for a Javanese to criticise her parents, being impolite, out of conduct, etc.

      Most of them are proosing to just forgive, let all he had done go and burried as his corpe was burried into the Mother Pertiwi soil.

      PapuaPost commenting

  • Papua Post 1:52 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Balas
    Tags: , , , State Terror   

    Carmel Budiardjo: The Family Firm 

    During the 32 years of the New Order, the Suharto family made good use of the special privileges they enjoyed to pursue a wide range of business ventures. First to set the pattern was Suharto�s wife, Tien (Siti Hartinah) Suharto who became known as Madame Ten Percent, thanks to her involvement in a wide range of business ventures. Together with the tycoon and Suharto crony, Liem Sioe Liong, for instance, she took control of PT Bogasari Mills which was granted a state monopoly for the import, milling and distribution of flour.

    She also became the chief patron and beneficiary of Taman Mini (Indonesia in Miniature) Project, a high-profile project covering a large area of landon the outskirts of Jakarta, where the traditions and artefacts of all the provinces of the country were put on display. Set up in 1971 at a cost of $25 million, officials said at the time that these funds could have been better used to fund no fewer than 52 small businesses or seven large universities.

    As the wife of the president, she chaired Dharma Wanita, a compulsory civil servants� wives� association which organised the Family Welfare Movement, a cultural movement whose aim was to promote the ideology of Suharto�s New Order throughout the country, reaching down to the villages.

    Tien Suharto died suddenly on 28 April 1996, reportedly from shock, after witnessing a bitter row between two of her sons.

    The six children of Suharto and his wife all became involved in a wide variety of business ventures, benefiting from the many privileges which they enjoyed by virtue of being the sons and daughters of the president. According to TIME-Asia (24 May 1999), the six Suharto children owned between them significant equity in at least 564 companies, covering a range of commodities and businesses from oil and cloves (used in the popular kretek cigarettes) to land, toll roads, airlines, hotels, TV stations and real estate. Foremost among these offspring was Tommy (Hutomo Mandala Putra) Suharto, the youngest of the brood and Suharto�s favourite son who, like his five siblings, benefited from the system of patronage set up by Suharto during his 32-year rule. Himself a keen sports-car racer, his many companies included the Lambrighini sports car company and a 75 percent stake in an 18-hole golf course and 22 luxury apartments in Ascot, Britain.

    In 2000, Tommy, became the first (and as yet the only) member of the Suharto family to be tried and convicted in a court of law. He was given a 15-year sentence for ordering the murder of a Supreme Court judge who had found him guilty of a land scam and given him an 18-month sentence. But in 2005, in an unprecedented decision, he was released from jail after serving only one third of his sentence. These days, reports about the far-flung riches of Tommy Suharto and the cases against him pending in courts around the world are hardly ever off the front pages of Indonesian newspapers. In the final years of his life, Suharto was obviously troubled by the persistent references to his greed and corruption. Perhaps thinking that he could clear his name by taking on one of the world�s most prestigious news magazines, he decided to sue TIME for an article about his accumulated wealth. He filed a case suing the Asian edition of TIME magazine for defamation for an article it published in May 1999 titled �Suharto Inc� which reported that he and his family had amassed a fortune of $15 billion.

    After two lower courts rejected the complaint, Indonesia�s Supreme Court reversed the verdict and ordered the magazine, its editor and five staff members to pay Suharto the sum of $111 million. The Indonesian lawyer who acted for TIME, Todung Mulya Lubis, described the verdict as an affront to the principle of press freedom. He said: �The supporters of Suharto are still within the government, within the parliament, within the judiciary within the business of society. They may not be as strong as in the past but they are still there.� He described the judgment of the Supreme Court as �a blow for democracy, for the freedom of the press�.

    While this charade was underway, an agency set up by the World Bank and the UN, the StAR (Stolen Assets Recovery) initiative, put Suharto at the verytop of their list of former heads of state for stealing between $15 billion and $35 billion during his 32-year rule. The figures were based on investigations carried out by Transparency International.

    Suharto departed this world without facing justice for his multiple crimes against humanity or for the extremely brutal campaign carried out by his troops in their attempt to crush the resistance movement in East Timor.

    Although Suharto stood head and shoulders above other government leaders who ruthlessly repressed their populations, his crimes never gained theworld attention accorded to other brutal leaders such as Pinochet or Pol Pot. Even when the massacres of 1965-66 were in full swing, world media coverage was meagre. Scanning British media coverage of those events, after I returned home to London, I found barely a mention of what was going on, and most of the reports I did find described the killings as the consequence of a �civil war�.

    Shortly after returning home in November 1971 following three years of political imprisonment, I happened to be sitting near a group of Amnesty officials who were discussing a report about torture. I asked them whether they would include Indonesia but they appeared to be unaware that torturein Indonesia was a problem. Comparing the press reports I saw about the massacres in Chile when Pinochet took power and reports about the 1965-66 killings, I was shocked by the lack of coverage devoted to Indonesia.

    Suharto could count his blessings that, perhaps apart from The Netherlands where Indonesia was a familiar topic, he could, and did, get away with blue murder without much of the world even noticing.

    Carmel Budiardjo

  • Papua Post 1:48 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Balas
    Tags: , , , State Terror   


    As Indonesia�s former dictator lay dying on 8 January, a coterie of the country�s great-and-good gathered at his bedside to pay their last respects to a man responsible for more deaths and suffering than any state leader since World War Two with the exception of Pol Pot of Cambodia.

    While President Yudhoyono and former President Abdurrahman Wahid, out of respect for an elder statesman, stood at his bedside praying that efforts to restore him to health would be successful, other Indonesians regretted that with his passing, ten years after his fall from power in May 1998,he would never face justice for the countless crimes against humanity perpetrated during his 32-year reign of terror in Indonesia and the death and destruction inflicted on East Timor during the 23-year occupation of that country.

    Since being forced to resign by the financial crisis that engulfed Indonesia in 1998, Suharto lived as a recluse in Cendana, the luxurious family home in the Menteng district of Jakarta, basking in the wealth which he, his late wife and his offspring plundered during the years when the military held a tight grip on the country. He even escaped justice for the unparalleled corruption which resulted in his being named the worst head-of-state embezzler in modern times by the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative, a joint venture of the World Bank and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.

    Born on 8 June 1921 to a family of peasants in the village of Kemusu Argamulya in Central Java and having nothing more than lower secondary school education, Suharto turned at an early age to the military as his vocation. His rise in the ranks of the Indonesian Army occurred at a time when the country was still under civilian rule, following Indonesia�s one and only democratic election held in 1955.

    Suharto�s military career began during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia (1942-1945) when he became a battalion commander in Peta, Defenders of the Fatherland, a Japanese-trained militia. After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, he joined the Indonesian army then known as ABRI but now called Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), on the day it was founded on 5 October 1945. In 1957, he became a district commander in the Diponegoro Division (Central Java) with the rank of colonel.

    In parallel with his career in the military, he also engaged in financial activities to fund his subordinates and to provide the wherewithal for patronage. In the mid-1950s, he was implicated in a sugar smuggling scandal and other corrupt practices. This earned him a reprimand and removal in disgrace from his Diponegoro post, followed by a course at the Army Staff and Command School in Bandung,. But this did not stand in the way of his subsequent promotion to brigadier-general in January 1960.

    After a stint as commander of the unsuccessful Operation Mandala in 1960, aimed at driving the Dutch from West Papua, he was promoted to major-general and appointed commander of the Diponegoro Division. At the height of Indonesia�s confrontation with the newly-formed state of Malaysia in 1963, Suharto was appointed commander of Kostrad, the army�s elite command, which later enabled him to play a strategic role in the physical annihilation of the Indonesian Communist Party, which by the mid-1960s had become the third largest communist party in the world.

    The coup attempt on 30 September 1965 mounted by self-proclaimed pro-communist army officers, when six army generals and a lower-ranking officer were kidnapped and murdered, as part of a conflict within the Indonesian army, provided Suharto with the pretext to unleash nationwide reprisals against the Indonesian Communist Party. As the White Terror spread throughout Central and East Java and then to other parts of Indonesia, hundreds of thousands of communists and alleged communists were killed. An estimated 200,000 people were arrested and held for years without charge. By the mid-1970s, some 70,000 were still in detention, of whom 13,000 men had been banished to the remote island of Buru where they were subject to harsh conditions. Hundreds of women prisoners were banished to a prison camp in Central Java called Plantungan. The remoteness of these camps made family visits and food supplies virtually impossible.

    No one has ever been held to account for the killings and atrocities that occurred during Suharto�s New Order which enabled Suharto to rule Indonesia without opposition for more than thirty years. It was not until after the dictator�s downfall that surviving victims were able to speak publicly about the ordeals which they and their families had suffered.

    As the anti-communist purge got into full swing in late 1965, Suharto�s leading role in the armed forces was formalise with his appointment by President Sukarno as commander of the army on 16 October 1965. Abusing the powers given to him by Sukarno, Suharto issued an order for all PKI members or suspects to be purged from state positions. His grip on the country became further entrenched with the special powers granted to him on 11 March 1966 which was known as Supersemar. The PKI was banned along with associated mass organisations estimated to have a following of some 15 million people.

    Meanwhile, the removal of the popular President Sukarno was handled with consummate skill. Suharto showed himself to be the master of Javanese-style slow-but-sure tactics, described by one biographer as a �protracted Wayang play�. It was not until 12 March 1967 that a heavily purged legislative assembly stripped Sukarno of all his powers and installed Suharto as acting president. Although he had already been in control of the country for three years, it was not until a year later, on 21 March 1968, that Suharto was formally elected to his first five-year term as president. He was re-elected unopposed on six subsequent occasions in 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993 and 1998. However, it was his election in 1998 that triggered his downfall as mass demonstrations swept the country and called for his dismissal, making his position untenable.

    New Order Violence

    Under Suharto�s New Order, violence became a regular feature, while the fear of being accused as communists de-politicised all activists as well as the population as a whole, in the interests of security and order. Organisations were set up for each section of the population which were obliged to declare their allegiance to the government and its Pancasila ideology. There were many clampdowns such as the Tanjung Priok affair in West Java in September 1984 when dozens of Muslims outside a mosque were shot dead by the security forces and incidents in Lampung, South Sumatra in 1987 and later on against plantation workers in North Sumatra.

    On 28 November 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor in the wake of Portugal�s withdrawal from the territory. During the 23 years of occupation, military operations against a well-organised resistance movement resulted in tens of thousand of deaths. According to the East Timorese church, an estimated

    60,000 Timorese were killed during the first two months of the invasion. A special commission set up by the UN in 2002, the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor, concluded that 18,600 Timorese were murdered or disappeared during the Indonesian occupation and between 84,000 and 183,000 more died as a direct result of Indonesia�s policies.

    From 1976, the people of Aceh, the western-most province of Indonesia, experienced the brutality of unrestrained killings when the region was designated a �military operations region� (Daerah Operasi Militer) after the establishment of GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) in 1976 which sought to create a separate state. While some of the victims were killed during military conflicts, the vast majority of those who were struck down were unarmed civilians.

    In 1965, after Indonesia had taken control of West Papua from the Dutch in 1963, crack troops of the military were sent to the region to crush an independence movement known as the OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, Free Papua Organisation). This resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands ofpeople in the following decades, especially after the so-called Act of Free Choice in August 1969 when just over one thousand Papuans took part in thefraudulent Act, sealing the territory�s fate as a province of Indonesia. Here too, the territory was designated as a special military area or DOM,
    giving the military free rein to capture, kill or maim people deemed to be in favour of independence.

    In 1983, death squads took to the streets in a so-called anti-crime operation. For six months, death squads went on the rampage, killing alleged criminals or bandits. This resulted in the deaths of an estimated three thousand people. The killings occurred in a number of cities and came to be known as petrus or �mysterious killings�. The precise number of victims was never established because the Indonesian media was prohibited from reporting the killings. In September 1983, the Far Eastern Economic Review reported that the killings were �set to continue until the authorities have reached their countrywide target reliably put at 4,000 extra-judicial killings�.

    Suharto took personal responsibility for these killings in his autobiography, Suharto: Pikiran, Ucapan dan Tindakan Saya (Suharto: My Thoughts, Sayings and Deeds) in which he wrote: �The newspapers were full of articles about the mysterious deaths of a number of people�. There was nothing mysterious about it at all. Was it right to do nothing? It had to be treated by violence. But this did not mean just going out and shooting people, bang, bang. No. But those who tried to resist, like it or not, had to be shot. Because they resisted, they were shot.�

    These killings were a reminder to the population that the authorities continued to have the power and the physical ability to deal with anyone daring to challenge the government.

  • Papua Post 1:38 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Balas
    Tags: , , , State Terror   

    Accountability for Suharto’s Crimes Must Not Die With Him 

    East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) on the Death of Suharto

    Contact: John M. Miller +1/718-596-7668

    Accountability for Suharto’s Crimes Must Not Die With Him

    Indonesia’s former dictator General Suharto has died in bed and not in jail, escaping justice for his numerous crimes in East Timor and throughout the Indonesian archipelago. One of the worst mass murderers of the 20th century, his death tolls still shock:

    • 500,000 to one million Indonesians in the aftermath of his 1965 seizure of power;
    • 100,000 in West Papua;
    • 100,000 to 200,000 in East Timor, which his troops illegally invaded in 1975;
    • tens of thousands more in Aceh and elsewhere.

    Suharto also accumulated an appalling legacy of corruption – 15 to 35 billion dollars stolen by him and his family.

    Suharto has avoided personal accountability for the genocide, destruction and corruption he inflicted upon those he presumed to rule. However, the generals, cronies and family members who carried out his orders via massacre, torture and theft must not get off so easily. Those who murdered and pillaged on behalf of Suharto and his “New Order” regime must be brought to justice.

    We cannot forget that the United States government consistently supported Suharto and his regime. As the corpses piled up after his coup and darkness descended on Indonesia, his cheerleaders in the U.S. welcomed the “gleam of light in Asia.” In the pursuit of realpolitik, U.S. administration after administration, fully aware of his many crimes, provided military assistance and hardware, training and equipping Suharto’s killers. The Indonesian dictator sought and received U.S. approval before he launched his invasion of East Timor; ninety percent of the weapons used in this illegal attack came from the U.S.

    In the face of broad domestic opposition as his “economic miracle” had collapsed in 1998, he finally stepped down. But only after U.S. Secretary of State Albright hinted he should do so, even as the White House insisted she was not calling on the U.S.-backed dictator to “step down now.”

    Persistent advocacy by concerned activists from East Timor, Indonesia, the U.S. and within Congress finally succeeded in curtailing U.S. military assistance to the Suharto regime in the 1990s. After Suharto was ousted, East Timor broke free and the Indonesian military lost some perks. Since then, military reform efforts have stalled or been reversed. Suharto’s favored military still maintains substantial power. Its higher-ranking officers, and powerful retired military, like President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, built their careers during his reign. The military continues to violate human rights with impunity and in West Papua and some areas operates by Suharto-era rules, restricting outside access and employing terror in service of its commercial interests.

    Limited investigations dealing with Suharto-era crimes have added some information to the public record, but the few trials that have occurred have largely failed, as defendants have lied, intimidated or bribed their way to acquittals, crushing the hopes of the victims and their families for justice or even an apology.

    To overcome Suharto’s legacy and to uphold basic international human rights and legal principles, those who executed, aided and abetted, and benefited from his criminal orders must be held accountable. The U.S. must undergo a complete accounting for its role in backing the dictator. As a start, the U.S. government must support for an international tribunal to prosecute human rights and war crimes committed in East Timor from 1975 to 1999, and Washington should condition military assistance to Indonesia “on progress towards full democratisation, the subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian government, and strict adherence with international human rights” as recommended by East Timor’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.

    A brief ETAN backgrounder on Suharto’s life is at http://www.etan.org/news/2008/01suhartobio.htm.

    This statement is also available in Tetum and Bahasa Indonesia. See http://www.etan.org/

    ETAN welcomes your financial support. For more info: http://etan.org/etan/donate.htm
    John M. Miller         Internet: fbp@igc.org
    National Coordinator
    East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
    PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
    Phone: (718)596-7668      Fax: (718)222-4097
    Mobile phone: (917)690-4391  Skype: john.m.miller
    Web site: http://www.etan.org

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