Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Lingle should break her ties with murderous Indonesian military

by Larry Geller

The Indonesian military is recognized for its brutality around the world and held responsible for massacres and genocide in East Timor and Aceh Provence. A reminder of this was part of today’s Democracy Now (10 p.m. Channel 56 if you are on Oahu):

Judge Rules Aceh Villagers Can Sue Exxon for Human Rights Abuses

A federal judge has ruled that a suit alleging human rights violations against Exxon committed in Aceh can be heard in a US court. Eleven villagers from Aceh say Exxon should be held liable for alleged violent crimes by military units of the Indonesian national army hired by Exxon to protect its facilities. According to some estimates, ExxonMobil has extracted some $40 billion from its operations in Aceh.

This news item reminded me that although the Indonesian military should be shunned and condemned by good people everywhere, Hawaii’s governor, Linda Lingle, has traveled to Indonesia and cozied up to their military establishment.

In fact, she’s agreed to help them repair helicopters, which could directly support future human rights atrocities. Earlier, I asked:

Why is Hawaii, a state, involved in high-level talks with the Indonesian military in the first place? Shouldn't Washington attend to intergovernmental affairs? Has Lingle been given some sort of special assignment unknown to the people of Hawaii? [Is Hawaii's governor Lingle setting up a secret military alliance with Indonesia for Bush?, Disappeared News, 6/11/2007]

We shouldn’t forget, in this election year, that Lingle is playing a role in Bush’s foreign policy. We might ask why, and demand that Hawaii not be involved in an individual’s ambitions.

Our cooperation with a hated regime may also make our islands a target of extremists.

"We should build up cooperation between the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) and the Hawaiian National Guard to beef up professionalism at the level of soldiers and low-ranking officers on maintenance of military equipment, such as helicopters and other equipment made by the United States," [Indonesian Defense Minister] Juwono [Sudarsono] said.

"In the coming months, scores of our soldiers will be sent to Hawaii to get trainings of the maintenance which could boost the capacity of troops," he added. [Indonesia, Hawaii set up military cooperation, people.com (China)]

The rest of this article is from the archive, a re-run, so to speak, but if you have not seen it before, read and understand why I think we should break this cooperation even as it is underway. Perhaps the Legislature might do something next session. It won’t, though, unless we, the people, ask it to.

Getting to know Hawaii's new partner, Indonesia

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.


The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) continues to campaign against U.S. military assistance to the Indonesian military as a way to pressure for reform, human rights and accountability. See http://www.etan.org.

They would love to work with anyone in Hawaii to oppose its collaboration with the Indonesian military.

Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older