Monday, June 18, 2007


Getting to know Hawaii's new partner, Indonesia

Several people have asked why I'm so concerned about Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle's new-found love, the Indonesian military. The mainstream press by and large did not report on the Indonesian genocide while it was occurring. Perhaps a summary here will bring everyone up to date on the true nature of the regime with whom Lingle has been in negotiations this past week. Of course, you read nothing like this in our local newspapers.

So please excuse the length of this post. I could have skipped it if our local press carried even a fraction of the truth about the regime that Lingle has been in talks with. Nor can I really do justice in one article to the horrors that have been perpetuated by her new friends.

Indonesia and East Timor

From a Yale University Genocide Studies Program article dated January 19, 2006, UN verdict on East Timor:
THE Indonesian military used starvation as a weapon to exterminate the East Timorese, according to a UN report documenting the deaths of as many as 180,000 civilians at the hands of the occupying forces.


Napalm and chemical weapons, which poisoned the food and water supply, were used by Indonesian soldiers against the East Timorese in the brutal invasion and annexation of the half-island to Australia's north, according to the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation report.

The violence culminated in the 1999 reprisals for the independence vote, when the Indonesian military and its militia proxies rampaged through East Timor, killing as many as 1500 people and destroying most of the towns.

The report blames the Indonesian government and the security forces for the deaths of as many as 183,000 civilians, more than 90per cent of whom died from hunger and illness.

It claims Indonesian police or soldiers were to blame for 70 per cent of the 18,600 unlawful killings or disappearances between 1975 and 1999.

Based on interviews with almost 8000 witnesses from East Timor's 13 districts and 65 sub-districts, as well as statements from refugees over the border in West Timor, the report also relies on Indonesian military papers and intelligence from international

It documents a litany of massacres, thousands of summary executions of civilians and the torture of 8500 East Timorese - with horrific details of public beheadings, the mutilation of genitalia, the burying and burning alive of victims, use of cigarettes to burn victims, and ears and genitals being lopped off to display to families.

Thousands of East Timorese women were raped and sexually assaulted during the occupation and the report concludes that rape was also used by the Indonesian military as a weapon of war.

"Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters," the commission found.

The deaths amounted to almost a third of East Timor's pre-invasion population.

The report found that after taking into account a peacetime baseline mortality rate, the number of East Timorese whose deaths could be directly attributed to Indonesia's deliberate starvation policy was between 84,200 and 183,000 people from 1975 until 1999.

East Timor, one of the world's poorest nations, with a population of just over one million people, had a pre-invasion population of 628,000.

The Indonesian security forces "consciously decided to use starvation of East Timorese civilians as a weapon of war", the report says. "The intentional imposition of conditions of life which could not sustain tens of thousands of East Timorese civilians amounted to extermination as a crime against humanity committed against the East Timorese population."

A culture of impunity prevailed in the occupied territory and "widespread and systematic executions, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and sexual slavery was officially accepted by Indonesia", the commission found.

"The violations were committed in execution of a systematic plan approved, conducted and controlled by Indonesian military commanders at the highest level."
The question begs to be asked: did Lingle meet or negotiate with anyone involved in these crimes against humanity? Will the assistance she has committed (e.g., helicopter repairs) permit them to commit further atrocities?

US Pacific Command in bed with Indonesian murderers

The US Pacific Command doesn't mind hobnobbing with murderers. Lingle was to be briefed during her visit on recently concluded joint military exercises. According to this article, Indonesian Major General Noer Muis, who has been indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor, participated in the exercises and his photo was featured on a U.S. Army, Pacific website.

While the US condemns the Indonesian atrocities out of one corner of its mouth, it encourages the perpetrators out of the other. This has not gone unnoticed in the international community.
Sixteen NGOs wrote [in Nov. 2004] that they are looking to Congress "to provide leadership by ending all assistance to the military which so damaged our country... Restrictions on military aid are essential to efforts to end impunity for the horrendous crimes committed in East Timor. The restrictions are crucial to preventing similar crimes in Indonesia."

"We know that there are people within your government who argue that increased U.S.-Indonesia military relations will have a positive impact, but such beliefs are wrong and threaten many lives," the NGOs wrote. "The more powerful and unaccountable the Indonesian military remains, the slimmer the chances for stability and democracy in Indonesia."
As we wrote previously, the US House may act to cut or reduce aid to Indonesia because of its failure to reform its military.

Aceh and US-supplied arms and ammunition

The Indonesian military committed massacres comparable to those committed in East Timor in Aceh province. They could not have committed their atrocities without US help, but that does not mean that Hawaii should become a part of it. Moving now to Aceh and Papua, from a post-tsunami article:
In Aceh, over 12,000 civilians have fallen victim to military operations that have included mass sweeps and forced relocations. These operations, almost constantly since the late 1970’s, have entailed brutal treatment of civilians including extra judicial killings, rape, torture and beatings. While the military’s quarry in these attacks, the pro-independence Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or GAM has also been responsible for human rights abuses, the State Department's Annual Human Rights reports have consistently reported that most of those civilians died at the hands of the military.

Throughout this period, extending from 1965 to the early 1990's the U.S. military maintained a close relationship with the Indonesian military, providing training for thousands of officers as well as arms. From the late 1970’s to 1992, that training included grant assistance under IMET [International Military Education and Training]. The arms provided by the U.S. were employed by the Indonesian military not against foreign foes (the Indonesian military has never confronted a foreign foe except for brief clashes with the Dutch in West Papua) but rather against their own people. In the 70's and 80's, U.S.- provided OV-10 Broncos bombed villages in East Timor and in West Papua. Military offensives conceived and directed by IMET-trained officers against usually miniscule resistance caused thousands of civilian deaths.
The Indonesian military stepped up its actions to crush the popular Aceh separatist movement after the tsunami, opportunistically using the disaster to crush it:
...  It’s unfortunate that it took the devastation of a tsunami to get the world to turn their heads. As TV viewers cringe and gasp at the piles of bloated bodies being bulldozed into mass graves, little do they know that mass graves are commonplace in Aceh. It’s one of the worst situations of repression in the world. The military occupation of Aceh, designed to defeat an armed independence movement and operated by convicted human rights abusers in the Indonesian military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia), has killed tens of thousands of civilians over the last three decades. The known murderers are now in charge of relief efforts in the worst-hit area of the tsunami disaster that has left over 100,000 people dead. The number of casualties are rising, as the politically driven bureaucratic mess of the Indonesian authorities restricts the flow of aid from to where it’s most needed.

As sympathizers of tsunami victims pour in donations, they need to know where the money goes. They need to know of not just the present destruction but the decades long devastation that has been forced on the Acehnese people.

Life in Aceh before the tsunami was no paradise. Even though Aceh is rich in resources, the people live in poverty with high rates of hunger and poor nutrition. A massive natural gas operation accrues high profits for Exxon Mobil and the government in Jakarta but leaves the people of Aceh oppressed and empty handed. In response to continuing exploitation from the Indonesian government, people in Aceh demanded independence. For decades, armed rebels known as the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or G.A.M.) have battled the Indonesian military, demanding a referendum on independence from Indonesia. The Indonesian military has used G.A.M. as a scapegoat, blaming them for the lack of aid distribution in post-tsunami Aceh. Shortly after the tsunami hit Aceh, G.A.M. declared a ceasefire to ensure safe movement of humanitarian relief workers to locate victims, distribute aid and allow family members to track their loved ones.

Under martial law, the people of Aceh are not free to move. The military conducts regular sweeps where they stop cars on the road and pull people out. If you don’t have proper ID you’re taken into custody. If you resist, you are beaten. If you are on a military intelligence list of activists or sympathizers, you “disappear”. There is systematic torture, rape and murder. Mass graves pile high with victims of military beatings and massacres.

The Indonesian military is using the tsunami devastation as an opportunity to further implant their military power. They continue to attack and harass the civilian population. More lives are being lost as the military takes control of all relief efforts. The Indonesian military blames the G.A.M. for the imposed tight security restrictions on aid workers, even though the G.A.M. has publicly announced their appreciation: “We extend our deepest gratitude to the peoples and governments of countries that have not only shared our griefs and losses but have come to help our suffering people in such a swift, massive and unprecedented generosity.”

Meanwhile, reports of military control hampering relief operations are as follows:

Local NGOs are forbidden to participate in the distribution of aid to survivors and the families of victims.

Aid packages are being stock piled in Banda Aceh and Median airports and are not being effectively distributed.

Survivors lined up outside distribution centers are denied aid if they cannot produce identity cards. Sometimes they are harassed and beaten.

Donated food is being sold at black market prices outside of distribution centers.

The only hospital still functioning is operated by the military. Some international medical personnel are denied access.
Finally, moving to Papua, it is alleged in this April, 2007 story that the Bush administration suppressed evidence of the Indonesian military's involvement in the deaths of American citizens that might have scotched Bush's announcement of a "new era of military co-operation" with Indonesia.
Evidence of Indonesian military involvement in the deaths of two American citizens has been suppressed, according to a report released today by Joyo Indonesian News Service and Pantau Foundation. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and other senior administration officials, have been misleading Congress and the public about a 2002 assault near the gold and copper mine of Freeport McMoRan (FCX) in the remote Indonesian province of Papua. The Bush Administration sees Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, as a key ally in the Global War on Terrorism.
Speaking of terrorism, as one should when mentioning the Indonesian military, one cannot avoid their long-term actions against the people of Papua, continuing to the present. Just in one short period
From 1969 until October 1998 (five months after the overthrow of former Indonesian military dictator President Suharto), West Papua was designated as a “military operations zone”, giving the military free reign to combat the resistance movement. Some 100,000 people have died during the Indonesian occupation.


Tom Benedetti from Canada’s West Papua Action Network wrote in the January 2 [2006] International Herald Tribune that Indonesian military activity had been escalating in West Papua, and the number of troops there has reached an estimated 50,000.

Benedetti cited three major obstacles to peace in West Papua. The first is that “foreign journalists and most researchers and aid workers are still banned from West Papua. Unlike in Aceh after the tsunami, no-one is looking.” The second is that the Indonesian military “earns millions selling security services to resource companies such as the gold-mining company Freeport-McMoran”. And finally, the majority of the Indonesian military’s budget is funded from its own legal and illegal business ventures, and “West Papua is the Indonesian military’s most lucrative area of operations”.
These actions have been carried out by the Indonesian government and its military against its own people. If Saddam Hussein was executed for doing this on a smaller scale, how dare we cooperate and support the Indonesian military in any way as it continues to do the same?

I'm sure the governor's office will claim we are only providing disaster preparation assistance. That would be a good thing, but there are non-governmental organizations that we might work with.

We are all complicit if we allow state money, derived from our taxes, to assist the Indonesian military in any way.


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