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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Blood on our hands

The Australian obtains a startling, though sadly unsurprising, UN report:

"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.

"The 2500-page report, obtained by The Australian, has been suppressed for months by the East Timorese Government and will infuriate Indonesia, which has punished only a handful of soldiers for the murders, assaults and rapes that occurred during its 24 years of occupation.

"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."

Such a brutal occupation would not have succeeded without Western support:

"The report, due to be handed by East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao to UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan tomorrow, also criticises Australia for its long-term de jure recognition of the Indonesian occupation and its failure to try to prevent the use of force in East Timor.

"It recommends reparations from Indonesia and the members of the UN Security Council, including Britain and the US, who gave military backing to Indonesia between 1974 and 1999, as well as those nations that provided military assistance to Jakarta during the occupation, including Australia."

Australia's enthusiastic support for Indonesia crossed both major political parties. Perhaps one of the greatest myths of recent times has been the widespread belief that the Howard government "liberated" Timor in 1999. The facts, sadly, tell a very different story.


Blogger Wombat said...

It shodl be remembered that the whole invasino took place after the go ahead from that lover of humanity, Henry Kissinger.

the complicity of Australias political leaders is absolute and they should most definitely be held to account.

Apart from the treatment of aborogines, this issue is the only other that has made me ashamed of Australia.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:20:00 pm  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

The poor Indonesians. Communism or the Death Cult!

Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:30:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Are you suffering from the sam tic that Ibraham is inflicted with Neo? What do Communism and Death cults have to do with the East Timorese you ignoramus.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:32:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

Addamo-01 ,
Gough Whitlam was the PM at the time of the invasion and he seems to have a mixed attitude to asians.
Loved the chinese , not keen on the vietnamese( not sure why - too russian ?) ,supported the javanese in their colonisation and suppression of the other people in Indonesia..
The first independent government in East Timor (1975)was of a socialist inclination so the US probabaly wasn't ever going to be sympathetic. They suffered from the same problem of having a confused presentation to the west - being a government which wanted to preserve their identity and be free from interference and coming across as "commies" .

I think the javanese would have maintained the invasion even without the support of the west .It is probabaly better to say the west pretended that there wasn't a problem rather than that they supported the occupation.

I don't agree that Howard didn't help the situation after the later independent elections . His governmemt may have dirty hands - on so many issues , but with a nod from Clinton, Australian armed forces did go to East Timor and helped the new country.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 2:19:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...


I agree pretty much, but the australia government did nothing to investigate the death of the Australian jouranlists in 1975 (I forget their names).

While the Javanese may have proceeded regardless, someone had to arm them.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 3:03:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

I am of the suspicion , note suspicion only, that the Aust Govt knew plenty about the deaths of the film crew.
It has always surprised me that a Labor govt did so little to protest against this Javanese occupation.The Portugese left all their colonies to crumble and burn in civil or outsider inspired conflicts . But the Aust government always seemed happy to ignore this problem -why ?
Oil is one reason but maybe someone else here can provide a bit more background?
Edward M-S has said one of his interests is Indonesia so I look forward to him and Ibramahav duking it out on another subject .

Thursday, January 19, 2006 3:28:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

boredinHK said...
Oil is one reason but maybe someone else here can provide a bit more background?"

Gas, Offshore gas reserves in the East Timorese waters is being exploited by Woodside and others from Australia. The Timorese are complaining that they are being screwed. Australia reckons they are ungrateful.....

Thursday, January 19, 2006 11:39:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

The 25 years of 'international' objections to Indonesia's invasion and occupation only came from countries that had nothing to loose by doing so.

The objections didn't matter however, because Indonesia had the tacit approval of the US government (the army invaded precisely one day after Ford and Kissinger flew out of Indonesia – here are the documents indicating US support); Indonesia had given sweet-heart deals to many US corporations and promised to be a bulwark in Asia against the evil Communist threats of North Vietnam, Laos and China. The quid pro quo was that it would receive military training and hardware from the US and could do whatever it wanted with East Timor. (The essential concern for the government in Jakarta was to acquire the large gas and oil reserves located off the coast.)

Why didn't Australia object? Simple. Because Australia doesn't have a foreign policy that is independent of the US's. Australia can of course do and say whatever it likes if it does not conflict with US foreign policy - this was not one of those times. But times change.

In 1998 the Indo economy hits the skids as massive amounts of short term capital (followed by long term investments) are sucked out due to the currency crisis. There are mass protests over inflation, unemployment and corruption, and the democracy movement hits its stride. The US-backed dictator, Soeharto, pretty much looses control of Indonesian politics. Does the US now consider him a spent force and thus the Timor covenant ended? Yep.
~ May 20, 1998, the US House of Reps introduces the revolutionary and unambiguously titled "Indonesia Human Rights Before Military Assistance Act"
The game was clearly up. How did Soeharto react?
~ May 21, 1998, Soeharto resigns.

From here on in, after two decades of assisted human rights abuses, the US foreign policy towards Indonesia makes clear shifts.
~ September 29, 1998, US Congress bans military training with TNI (Indo Army).
~ October 1998, 1998 the Omnibus Appropriations bill places limitations on transfer of military equipment to East Timor.
~ June and July, 1999, the US Senate pressures the Admin. to "immediately intensify their efforts to prevail upon the Indonesian Government and military" to "disarm and disband anti-independence militias," "release all political prisoners," and "allow Timorese who have been living in exile to return to East Timor to campaign [in elections]".
~ August/September sees fighting between militia +TNI and Fretlin. (Compared to the Iraq War MkII, relatively few protests in Australia, but for some reason the Australian government now shows unprecedented concern "on behalf of all Australians".)
~ September 9, 1999, Clinton suspends all official military ties with Indonesia.
~ September, 20, 1999, Australian-led UN peacekeepers enter East Timor.
~ 2000, Australia begins extracting gas reserves over which it has no legal claim.
~ May 20, 2002, with the benevolent assistance of Australia, East Timor is recognized internationally as an independent state.
~ 2003, Australia reveals what the main game was all about: the very gas and oil reserves that were of such interest to the Indonesian state.
~ January, 2006, a deal is struck between Aust. and E.Timor over the division of the resources. The Sydney Morning Herald spins this as a continuation of Australia's benevolent assistance. The letter writers know better however:

"It is incredible the Herald can devote an editorial to the Timor Sea oil and gas issue (January 16) without mentioning the iniquitous agreement Australia has imposed on East Timor for sharing the revenue from the Greater Sunrise gas field. A 50 per cent split of taxes and royalties might sound fair, but the gas field lies on East Timor's side of any median line between the two countries, and so it should all belong to East Timor.
"The United Nations Law of the Sea recommendation of a border midway between countries is ignored by Australia, and we have withdrawn from the International Court so East Timor cannot pursue its rightful claim.
"Your editorial speaks of a $15 billion to $20 billion windfall for East Timor but you fail to mention the other $15 billion to $20 billion theft by Australia of what is rightfully theirs. After so many East Timorese died protecting Australian soldiers in World War II, the least we could do is give them justice."

Peter Jennings

"Your comparison between East Timor and small failed states strengthens the armchair tut-tutting which characterises the thought of the many Australians still ignorant of the issues in the recent Timor Sea resources dispute. They have swallowed the Canberra-inspired fiction that somehow Australia gave the Timorese some of the resources and that we are therefore generous. Had international convention been followed, it would be East Timor and Indonesia sharing Greater Sunrise, not us.
"What is Australia going to do with its $15 billion to $20 billion windfall? Perhaps it may help to address the $7 billion worth of Tax Office mistakes which have raised questions in the Auditor-General's mind about government financial management ("Oops: Tax Office sums out by almost $7b", December 30, 2005). It would help the Department of Defence, whose sloppy accounting practices require $142 million to get the figures right ("Military might missing in action", December 31, 2005).
"Corruption is not far from anyone. Rather than wring our hands at what the Timorese might do with their money, we ought to consider carefully what we do with their money."

Sister Susan Connelly
Mary MacKillop East Timor, St Marys

Now, as to the matter of sending Ibby into conniptions. Perhaps a lesson to be drawn from this is that occupying states only retain US support while-ever they remain useful. "Great and valued friends" can be dropped like stones at a moment's notice if they cease to be so. One wonders what will happen to the geo-political landscape of the Middle East when the oil reserves run out.

Friday, January 20, 2006 1:01:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Fascinating post Eddie. Thanks for reminding me of all that took place over those three decades. It's so easy to forget.

You are right on the money abtou australian foregin policy being merely a facsiile of US policy.

And for anyone under the impression the US had no say in the invasion, here is a link:

The SMH link is broken but does exist.

And if you are listening, Violet, Melanie and Ibby, here is an example of being critical of Australia foregin policy while still loving the country. See, you can do both at the same time.

Friday, January 20, 2006 1:40:00 am  
Blogger orang said...

Excellent post ed. And I keep believing John Howard when he says we're "doing the right thing" - because he's making us proud to be Australians.

On the historical US role in this, I've believed that NOTHING gets done in the world without the US knowing about it and eventually being deeply involved in it. I like to think of them as the neighbourhood mafia. If you want to open a fruit stand you better let the gang know of your intentions, get their permission and work out their share beforehand.

An emerging democracy better not talk about Land Reform, Equal Rights, sharing, reconciliaton. These are boo boo words to the US and you're not going to last long. Better use words like, Progress, Tough on Drugs, Economic Development...

Saddam would have certainly avoided being invaded if he'd talked to the right US CEO's about investment, developing Iraq's infrastructure, oil exploitation, and privatising a lot of the government supplied services. If US business was for him, US government position, "Saddam a bad guy? Fahgedabahdit!"

It's just business you understand, nothing personal.

Friday, January 20, 2006 6:57:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

You are more on th emoney that you realise Orang.

In his book, "Confessions of an Economic Hitman", John perkins outlines hwo the US pulled off the deal of the century, by convincing the Saudi's to invest all their money in the US in return for protection, inclusing unconditional support for the regime. It was essentially like the Marhsall plan, althogh, this one followe the 70's oil crisis.

The US would be gurateed a cheap and uninterrupted supply of oil. The interest earned would go towards paying US construction and engineering companies, who would rebuild the infreastructure of Saudi Arabia. part fo the deal was to provide arms to the Saudis and insatll US bases. Also, part fo the plan was to base oil tradin on the US dollar.

pretty sweet deal for the US hah And guess who apparenyl was sent to close the deal? The Sith Lord himself, Kissinger.

Anyway, what Perkins also mentions is that the US wanted to tie up Iraq with teh same deal. Needless to say, Saddam told the Us to go and jump. But imagine how diffrenet things could have been had he said yes?

Imagine the US State department calling for restraint, rather than expressing mock outrage when Saddam gassed his peopel or crushed uprisings? Imagine saddam being a partner in the war on terror?

Friday, January 20, 2006 10:11:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Addamo_01 said...
"Confessions of an Economic Hitman"

An absolute must-read.

Friday, January 20, 2006 1:28:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Holy shit, I just re-read my post and realised it was barely legible.

My applogies.

Friday, January 20, 2006 3:41:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

we know what you meant.

Friday, January 20, 2006 6:44:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Um, yeah. Some of your posts are a bit Alphabet Soup-ish.

Friday, January 20, 2006 7:58:00 pm  

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