Wednesday, June 13, 2007


US House considers cutting off aid to Indonesian military even as Hawaii's governor promises close cooperation

Hawaii's press has turned a blind eye towards the questionable activities of the state's governor on her trip to Indonesia this week. Even as Governor Lingle promises close cooperation with the hated TNI, the Indonesian military, the US House, according to foreign press reports, is considering cutting off military aid because of the TNI's human rights abuses.

While local press coverage places emphasis on assistance with Indonesia's disaster preparedness, overseas articles have put the military cooperation first and the disaster aid second. See for example this Xinhua article, Indonesia, Hawaii enter military cooperation.

As you read the following articles, decide whether you think that Hawaii, with its spirit of Aloha, should be providing assistance to the TNI, and what the consequences of this support might bring down upon the state. If you're a resident of Hawaii, do you want your government associating with this regime in any way?

This story aired today (14 June, Australia time) on ABC, Radio Australia, US considers cut in military aid to Indonesia:
The United States House of Representatives is again considering cutting military aid to Indonesia because of its failure to reform its military and to prosecute senior officers for the violence in East Timor in 1999.

Last November the US agreed to resume military ties with Indonesia after 1999's violence in East Timor caused them to be cut.

Indonesia argues that it is making reform progress even though at least 60 per cent of the military's budget still comes from its own businesses.

But our Jakarta correspondent, Geoff Thompson, says failure to prosecute senior military officers, such as former military chief General Wiranto, and other alleged human rights abuses are fuelling a proposal, now being considered by the US House of Representatives, to cut 25 per cent of military aid.


International human rights groups say they are concerned about the Indonesian government's decision to scale back laws restricting the military's business activities.

When Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono became President in 2004, the momentum for reform of Indonesia's notorious military, TNI, had already begun.

A month earlier, Indonesia's parliament passed a law banning military commercialism and committing the government to a takeover or dissolution of all military businesses in 2009.

The newly-elected president pledged to see the legislation through.

However, Indonesia's defence minister, Juwono Sudarsono, has confirmed this week that according to the government's criteria, only six of 1,500 businesses previously identified as eligible will not be classified as commercial interests.

The announcement has disappointed human rights observers, including Charmain Mohamed, a researcher with Human Rights Watch.

She has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program that the military's pursuit of profits has resulted in human rights violations.


"[Human Rights Watch] did lots of research in South Kalimantan where the military is running cooperatives overseeing illegal coal mining activities.

"Because they are much more focused on trying to control the illegal coal mining industry it's leading them to commit abuses - extorting money, beating people who are illegally mining coal and intimidating them.
The Indonesian government itself supports torture and atrocities against its own people by its military. Massacres of East Timorese and Aceh residents in the past have led to world-wide condemnation although the news was not well covered by the mainstream US press. At present there are accusations of torture in the Indonesian provice of Papua. See another Radio Australia report, Mistreatment claims from human rights monitors, Papua prisoners:
Former prisoner, Herman Wainggai, says he understands the conditions the prisoners are experiencing.

He spent more than two years in Apepura prison, for raising the Morning Star flag.

The former student activist is now seeking political asylum in Australia.

He says prisoners were beaten regularly.

"Sometimes many students like I've seen the Indonesian military force them and beat them, sometimes they're bleeding from the body," Mr Wainggai told Connect Asia.

He says the conditions are overcrowded and unsanitary with more than 20 people crammed into each small cell.

"For my experience for a couple of weeks I just sleep in the same place, and toilet as well in same place," he said.

"They didn't allow us to come out of the place where put us in jail - 23 people in one room.

"Very bad conditions, no water."

Arbitrary detention, torture 'nothing new'

Special envoy to the United Nations Secretary General for Human Rights, Hina Jilani visited Papua last week and criticised the abuses of rights.

"I have heard credible reports of incidents that involve arbitrary detention, torture, harrassment though surveillance, interference with the freedom of movement," Ms Jilani said.

She also says that human rights monitors have been prevented from doing their work
It's probably safe to assume that Governor Lingle, unlike President Bush, reads newspapers and so is aware of the attrocities and the mass killings committed by the people she is arranging to assist.

The front story is still cooperation on disaster preparedness. But why partner with Indonesia? Next can we expect cooperation with Burma on human rights or with N. Korea on high-tech development? I'm getting carried away, but you see my point I hope.

Probably few terrorists pay attention to Hawaii at all (unless they're thinking of an international convention site), but if Hawaii cooperates and strengthens the Indonesian military it well could be courting the disaster that the governor is planning for.


Did you notice the latest story about Lingle's meeting with Indonesian women? Also, Mary Vorsino of the Adsvertiser is blogging about the trip, if you didn't notice.

Yes, I've been following the Advertiser blog by Mary Vorsino and mentioned it in a more recent post.

I'm surprised at how bland the blog has been, considering the import of an alliance between Hawaii and the Indonesian military.

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