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Friday, May 27, 2005

Crime and Punishment

Clinton Fernandes is a Melbourne writer, historian and military man. His 2004 book, Reluctant Saviour, revealed Australian involvement in the 1999 East Timor massacres.

In the wake of the Schapelle Corby guilty verdict today, Fernandes has a few thoughts about Indonesian justice:

"Commit mass murder in East Timor = no punishment.
Import marijuana = 20 years.

Foreign Minister Downer has praised the new Indonesia with "an independent judiciary and a democratic political system and a free press". Fair enough. But remember that in this new Indonesia, its first civilian defence minister, Juwono Sudarsono, rejected calls to investigate high-ranking war criminals within its military: "We can't go up into the high ranks as they were just carrying out state policy"*.

Accordingly, no action has been taken against the architects of the ethnic-cleansing campaign in the final days of the occupation of East Timor**:

a. Feisal Tanjung remained active in party politics after he lost ministerial office in October 1999.
b. Mahidin Simbolon, the deputy commander of the military region that included East Timor, was promoted to his own command in West Papua, where pro-democracy activists began to experience another reign of state-sponsored terrorism.
c. Former information minister Yunus Yosfiah remained free of meaningful legal sanction.
d. Zacky Anwar Makarim remains in the Indonesian army, attached to the headquarters without specific assignment.
e. Sjafrie Sjamsuddin, who presided over atrocities against students in 1998 when he was chief of the Jakarta garrison, was appointed official spokesman for the military.
f. Hendropriyono, the former transmigration minister who helped organise the mass deportations, was appointed head of the new National Intelligence Body."

* "Reluctant Saviour", p 75.
**"Reluctant Saviour", p 117.


Anonymous michael said...

"Commit mass murder in East Timor = no punishment.
Import marijuana = 20 years.

How about ...

Commit an unprovoked war of aggression on trumped up WMD claims = no punishment.
Import heroin = 15 years.

Chika Honda has something else in common with Schapelle Corby too.
They appear about as guilty as each other.

Friday, May 27, 2005 6:21:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Injustive everywhere, and more often than not people who aren't as photogenic as Corby.
Just watching the nightly news shows what a circus this really is. It's hard not to feel great sympathy for Corby.
Perhaps we should look at some other individuals in equally dire situations, ignored by the media...

Friday, May 27, 2005 6:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeez, Ant, how can you go around criticizing the Indonesian legal system for not prosecuting the butchers of East Timor? I swear, mate, this post is just rife with the racism that is never far from the Schapelle Corby case.

Friday, May 27, 2005 6:39:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

Of course there is a bright side to this.

Every bigotted yobbo in Australia has today promised to never go to Bali again.

Should be a nice place to be for the next few months.

Friday, May 27, 2005 6:41:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Rife with racism? Whatever. (though I presume you're being HILARIOUS!).
One can talking about the failures of the Indo legal system, pros and cons, without being racist. My point has always been about talking about the system as a whole, or dismissing the entire culture as "inferior". Sound familiar?

Friday, May 27, 2005 7:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I said nothing about the culture of Indonesia, lovely folk and a great mate of mine is Balinese (and yes, some of my best friends are Jewish), but you seem to feel that any third-world strongman state is de facto legit (Saddam, etc), while treating democratically elected leaders like Howard and Bush with contempt. It's just funny that on the one hand you'll take a dump on anyone who's skeptical of the Indonesian ability to prosecute this fairly (none of the judges have ever acquitted a drugs defendant, which seems pretty kangaroo-courtish to me) and call them racists, but then on the other poo-poo them for not going hard enough, or hard at all, on their own genocidal thugs.

Saturday, May 28, 2005 12:27:00 am  
Anonymous Bruce M Warrington said...

Anon, the fact that one opposes the use of externally-imposed violence to remove a thug from power does not mean one supports that same thug.

I don't think Antony would "poo-poo" you for your comments about the Indonesian judiciary, as you seem to be making a valid criticism of the system. There are some, however who do not, like Malcolm Elliot, with his disgusting "monkey" references and gratuitous insulting of Indonesia's current and former presidents. That shit is clearly racist.

Saturday, May 28, 2005 3:29:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't want to divert the thread from its central theme, but let's get one thing crystal clear.
Bush Junior has not been democratically elected to the American Presidency.

Saturday, May 28, 2005 9:31:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Bruce, I've found a supporter here, thanks!

Um, other anonymous, how do you figure? (I know, I know, off-topic...but this promises to be good.)

Saturday, May 28, 2005 12:41:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

Of course there's nothing wrong with making negative comments about something as perverse and corrupt as the Indonesian justice system, but you've got to wonder why so many Australians are so fixated on the failings of a foreign legal system which has screwed over one Australian while there is another one a lot closer to home that is also corrupt and perverse and screws over many Australians (and non-Australians) every week.

And, what's more, if you believe that we live under a regime somewhat more democratic than the one to our north, there might even be more scope for actually doing something about it other than whining and promising to avoid Bali as a holiday destination.

Seems particularly odd to me that a lot of the same commentators who support indefinite detention of foreigners who roll up on our shores with little more than the clothes on their back are so outraged about the 20 year sentence for one person who rolled up in Bali with ganga in her board bag.

BTW, has anyone heard of any proposed boycotts of Qantas for failing to stop their baggage handlers from smuggling gear and implicating innocent beauticians?
Seems that allowing your baggage to be processed at an Australian airport is as much of a risk factor as landing in Bali with an unlocked board bag.

Saturday, May 28, 2005 4:13:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's interesting here, and got lost in the whole Schappelle debate here, is that while calling for punishment for East Timor's butchers, you ignore that the 'ethnic cleansing' was really a religious cleansing of Muslims versus Catholics as much as anything else, though I know with your unabashed love of all things Islamic that's a bit uncomfy...

Saturday, May 28, 2005 6:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Bruce M Warrington said...

Anon, I'm afraid you and I part company here. Religion had nothing to do with East Timor. In fact, I believe (though I could be wrong about this) that the general who led the invasion, Benny Moerdani, was a Christian - a Catholic even. Soeharto's motivation for invading East Timor was fear of "communism" (though Fretilin was hardly that) and (probably) a good old-fashioned resource grab.

Saturday, May 28, 2005 9:31:00 pm  

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