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Issue #1763      February 1, 2017

Indonesia-Australia

Partners in crime

The Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA (AETFA SA) and the Australia West Papua Association SA (AWP SA) jointly released the following statement in response to the recent Indonesian military (TNI) backing down on its statement to cut military ties with Australia:

It is interesting to see that the TNI’s ban on military cooperation has lasted little more than a day. Major General Wuryanto expressed outrage and that Indonesia was offended because some Australian military training materials contained criticism of the TNI in West Papua and someone had written a cheeky comment on a document containing Indonesia’s national credo, the Pancasila. Australia’s Defence Minister claimed that it was a storm in a teacup, which indeed it was.

West Papuan and non-Papuan activists and supporters set up for a overnight vigil in front of the Indonesian Consulate in Melbourne.

As Australia’s Defence Minister Marise Payne said, the issue was a total overreaction on the part of the senior leadership of the TNI. This fact, however, did not stop her from grovelling to these generals who have a history of genocide, mass murder and gross human rights abuses in our region.

Observers of Indonesian politics have seen such performances on numerous occasions by leading Indonesian military personnel or politicians time and time again. These extreme right wing leaders also staged tantrums when references to their crimes were revealed – just as the TNI generals have.

It was rather ironic that the person who was chosen by the Indonesian leadership to announce its backdown on the issue was General Wiranto who is the nation’s Politics, Law and Security Minister.

In 2003, Wiranto was one of seven senior TNI commanders in the country to be indicted with crimes against humanity. The charges were laid by the UN’s Serious Crimes Unit and relate to the murder and persecution of East Timorese independence supporters before and after the East Timor independence referendum of 1999 when an overwhelming percentage of the population decided to be independent from Indonesia. The senior officers tried to use intimidation, violence and murder to thwart this outcome.

Wiranto’s leadership of the TNI in East Timor during 1999 led to the deaths of nearly 2,000 more East Timorese and the destruction of 80 percent of the nation’s infrastructure. The TNI had already wiped out about one third of East Timor’s population in its brutal and barbaric 24 year illegal occupation of the tiny nation.

Australians have to ask themselves if a country like ours, whose leaders claim to stand for democracy, peace, international rule of law and fair play, should be involved in arming, training and cooperating with an organisation like the TNI, which to its many victims in Indonesia, West Papua, East Timor and Acheh is viewed as the largest terrorist force in our region.

The fact is that if a criminal like Wiranto had faced the Nuremberg Tribunal, he might well have received a term of imprisonment for life or even been executed for his crimes. Instead, he has been rewarded by President Joko Widodo and made a minister in his cabinet.

Amnesty International described Wiranto’s appointment as an insult to international human rights.

West Papuans have had to endure the bloody TNI jackboot since 1962 when the US forced a situation where the process by the Dutch government to give them their independence was abandoned and the TNI occupied the country. Belatedly in 1969, the Suharto dictatorship conducted a bogus Act of Choice referendum when a very small minority were forced to vote for integration into Indonesia. This process was anything but free and the TNI used repression and brutality to get the result its leaders wanted.

This was supposed to have occurred with UN supervision, but the fact was that there were too few UN personnel to ensure that it was a fair process free from intimidation.

Human rights groups claim that during the TNI occupation about 500,000 people have lost their lives and that torture, sexual violence against women and girls (including rape), poisonings and murders of independence leaders, mass murder and brutal repression occur continuously.

The TNI has 45,000 personnel in West Papua to ensure that expressions of freedom are stomped on very quickly, but also to ensure that the US corporation Freeport McMohRan can continue to make millions of dollars profit from West Papua’s copper and gold and that military business rackets and corruption and massive illegal logging can continue to occur.

This is not an internal Indonesian matter as the Indonesian generals claim. It should be a great matter of international concern involving mass murder, genocide and many human rights abuses that can continue to occur.

It has to be asked why world leaders, who frequently preach to others about the rule of law and human rights, are strangely silent about the fact that they are silent about the incredible crimes that have been committed by the TNI war criminals and why they should be giving them military support at all.

Australians who care about human rights, the rule of law and fairness between nations should be questioning their federal politicians about why they are so compliant to the very corrupt and brutal TNI leaders. The Indonesian lobby in this country keep telling us that Indonesia is a democratic nation and we should not interfere in its internal affairs. It has to be acknowledged that there is more press freedom in Indonesia since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, but the reality is that the TNI still has a very powerful sway over Indonesian politics that sees TNI war criminals holding government positions, standing for elections and forcing decisions on civilian political leaders.

Australia should be promoting a UN ban on all military aid, cooperation and sales with the TNI until all the war criminals in its ranks are brought before an international tribunal to face justice, the TNI is withdrawn from West Papua and the Indonesian government compensates all TNI victims and their families whether they are Indonesian, West Papuan, East Timorese, Achehnese, Australian (Balibo 5) and others.

Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Information Officer AETFA SA Inc
Member of the Australia West Papua Association SA

Next article – Editorial – Remember Sabra and Shatila

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