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Dr Damien Kingsbury
Executive Officer, Monash Asia Institute
and coordinator of AETIVP in East Timor
Professor Tim McCormack
Australian Red Cross Professor of
International Humanitarian Law, The University of Melbourne
Mr Hidayat Djajamihardja
Journalist, ABC Radio Australia Indonesia Program
Mr Abel Gueterras
National Coalition for Timorese Resistance Professor
Head of Indonesian Program and
Foundation Professor of Indonesian,
Melbourne Institute of Asian Languages and Societies,
The University of Melbourne
ASIALINK - September 21st 1999
Thanks very much for the opportunity to come and talk to you tonight. I noticed in The Age today, Lindsay Murdoch had an article. And I must say that I think Lindsay's reporting of East Timor has been extraordinary. Apart from anything else he has shown quite remarkable bravery in a number of very difficult circumstances. But I did take small exception to a couple of paragraphs, that he had. He is referring to some Australian observers sitting in the garden of the Tourismo Hotel in Dili, sipping cold beers with Tim Fisher and talking about the bright prospects for the future with an independent East Timor. In fact Sue and I had just gotten out of the back of a Ute after coming down from Maliana half an hour before, with not much sleep the previous couple of days, and we were basically de-briefing about 20 other observers about the sort of horror and terror we had witnessed in our respective regions. No sooner had we finished, it was time to get a few hours sleep before heading back to Maliana at 5.00 am the next morning. And if you think that's hardship, Lindsay's reference to cold beer wasn't accurate either, it was quite warm, the refrigeration wasn't working.
It was certainly an interesting time to be there and I think an important time in East Timor's history, in Australia's history, in Indonesia's history. I think Indonesia is doing a lot of reconsidering of what it means to be Indonesia at the moment, in terms of the history of the region, in terms of the role of the military. This has been discussed quite widely and I guess what I will say has been covered by many people in recent times, but the military in Indonesia, TNI, has defined for itself a dual function, so-called, which is both military and political. Part of its role is the maintenance of the unity of the state - and this was one of the reasons why I got involved in East Timor in the first place - and why it has pursued such a hard line there ever since 1975.
The TNI has never been comfortable with the idea that East Timor could be independent. To the contrary they have regarded this as not just setting a precedent for the breakup of the state of Indonesia, but slapping them in the face, if you like, showing them that perhaps their actions in the past were wrong. And they were determined, I think, to prove one way or another that this wasn't the case. They resisted moves by Habibie last year to enter into negotiations about a reconciliation process or a referendum. And when Habibie went to Cabinet, on I think the 27th of January this year, and announced to the cabinet, that he had decided that East Timor would be allowed to vote on the referendum he had not consulted any of the Cabinet Ministers amongst whom of course was General Wiranto the Commander in Chief of TNI. Wiranto's response, I think I'm reasonably reliably led to believe, was one of fury, but in a typically Javanese way he did not express it as fury, he was silent.
However within two days he had arranged for one of his colleagues, Major General Zacky Anwar Makarim who was then Head of Military Intelligence to resign his position to go to East Timor where he had worked in the past as the Chief Intelligence Officer and to start again his networks of agents, activists, informants, whatever, to try to subvert this process of voting effectively on what was going to be self-determination. Interestingly Major General Zacky Anwar was also appointed as Chief Military Liaison Officer for the Indonesian Forces with UNAMET. So he had this interesting role where on the one hand he was the person who negotiated with UNAMET about what UNAMET required of the security forces there, on the other hand he was the person primarily responsible for subverting security. I'm not sure if this could happen in any place other than Indonesia, this contradiction, this synthesis of rights, but it certainly happened there.
Zacky went to visit his old friends amongst whom was Joao da Silva Tavares, the former military leader of the small political party Apodeti, and got these militias going. There was going to be one for each district or kabupaten, thirteen in all. The strongest ones were going to be in Bobonaro District near West Timor where Joao da Silva Tavares had his head quarters of Halalintar. Another very strong one was obviously in Dilli: Aitarak. Between them, in Liquica District, was Besi Merah Putih. There were several others, but these were the three key militia, and others tended to follow in their wake, for lack of their establishment. These militia's drew on previously established people's defense units, so called, which were basically organizations of local thugs who went about enforcing in an extrajudicial manner whatever the local party, the local regional chief, believed was necessary to maintain pro-Indonesian order.
The structure was there all along, but the scale on which these militia developed was quite remarkable, and in order to do this these organizations needed considerable funding and logistical support. Funding came in the order of 50,000 rupiah a day per militia member. This varied from place to place and person to person, in some cases they were paid with rice instead of cash, but that was a standard payment. And how do we know this? Well, there was one interesting case where Eurico Guterres, the Head of the Aitarak militia in Dili, was given money to give to his militia members which he was to hand out to them: 50,000 Rupiah notes which was supposed to be for each day of service. Being such a person that he was, he decided to put it in the bank instead and the bank said, "Sorry Eurico, we can't accept this". And he said, "Well why not?" And they said, "Well, it's counterfeit". And he went back, very furiously and very publicly, and said, "You've given me counterfeit money". And they said, "Yes, but you weren't meant to put it in the bank". So this is how we came to find out how much these people were being paid.
Logistical support came from Kodamnine in Bali through the military headquarters for the Nusa Tenggara region and it came in the form of training, in the form of the active role of Kopassus - Indonesian Special Forces - in leading the militias, and in the form of provision of weapons. Initially, the weapons were by way of firing mechanisms for shot guns and I think you've all seen pictures of these home-made weapons, they were based on the firing mechanisms of shot guns. In part this was to convey the impression that these militia was somehow poorly armed, that they were local, and that they were manufacturing their own things because they were genuinely self-supporting; and in part it was because TNI quite reasonably didn't want these people to get too powerful. Giving them proper weapons would have made them a dangerous force too early on.
However they did decide, around July I believe, that they needed to be more properly armed if they were to more fully fought. And it was from around July that we start seeing the militia armed with standard issue Indonesia military weapons: M16, SS1s, G3s and recently AK47s. And throughout August this became very common and very blatant. We had many experiences where we would see militia working out of military headquarters, out of police headquarters or stationed in police posts. We would see soldiers and police giving lifts to militia, examining weapons, cracking jokes, swapping cigarettes. The distinction between them seemed very blurred and indeed it became obvious after a short while that in some cases there was no distinction. The village of Memo near Maliana on the 27th of August was attacked by a large gang of militia. Two people were killed in that attack which wasn't a huge number, but what was interesting was that one of the people was shot at long-range, not by a militia member but by a uniformed police officer whilst that person was running away.
It was through examples like this that we came to learn that there was no distinction between security forces, so called, and the militia. It became increasingly clear that Kopassus and ex-Kopassus soldiers, freelance, who were coming back as mercenaries, were not just leading the militias but actively constituted a very large proportion of the militias, 20, 30, 40% in many cases. The militias, well, maybe these were people from East Timor who had a genuine belief that they should remain integrated with Indonesia. There were a few people from East Timor who were with the militias but largely they were not East Timorese. Probably in the order of 80% were not East Timorese, mostly from West Timor, also from the Islands of Floris, Suba, Sumbawa and a few people from elsewhere. How could we tell? They couldn't speak Tetun, the language of East Timor, and to be East Timorese is to be able to speak Tetun.
What's come out of this has been the rise of some sort of twisted form of nationalism in Indonesia. I think nationalism anywhere can be dangerous, but what we are seeing now is this very strong reaction to the events in East Timor and I guess what this presages is that, although there is a peace-keeping force there now, the problems are not over and we can expect to see continued negative responses to East Timor into the considerable future. Thank You.
Thanks very much Damien, I really appreciated that presentation and thanks too for the introduction earlier Sue. It is a humbling experience for me to come and participate in this seminar. Apart from the colleagues of mine on the panel, I'm also very conscious that many of you in the audience have much deeper personal connections with East Timor than I do but, like so many other Australians I too have wept at the images that we've seen because of what's happening so close to us. Professionally speaking, I have also been disturbed by the blatant disregard for international law in East Timor. So much of what I have worked hard for has been shown to be inadequatein this particular situation. I also want to say at the outset that my attempts to balance different responsibilities in my life often come unstuck but tonight, trying desperately to fulfill some commitments at home, I am going to have to leave before we really get into questions and discussion time and I apologize for that in advance. I will probably just sit down in the front row over there after I've finished to try and minimize the impact on the rest of proceedings by my early departure.
Let me just make a few comments about the current deployment of an Australian led multi-national force and the prospects for its success. I was very encouraged actually, in the midst of my discouragement, about the adoption of Resolution 1264 by the Security Council. It came much later than I wanted it to come, but when it did finally arrive, it was a very strong resolution indeed and, quite unlike many earlier resolutions in relation to the deployment of peace operations of any comparable significance. It is particularly important that the mandate for this particular multi-national force is as broad and as strong as it is. There has been a lot of discussion in the media about the difference betweeen peace-keeping and peace-enforcement - an extremely misunderstood distinction, not just by the media.
This deployment in East Timor is a peace-enforcement measure and that is significant because of the mandate to use military force if necessary. Peace-keeping involves the deployment of multi-national observers only lightly armed for self defense or in some cases completely unarmed who are sent into a situation to observe or "keep" a peace which has been agreed between the parties to a conflict - a peace which already exists. So both parties to the dispute, whether they are two independent sovereign states or one government and some other rebel group in an internal context, must have agreed to some semblance of cessation of hostilities and on the basis of that agreement and the willingness to invite a peace-keeping operation in, we see observers monitoring the cease-fire agreement, monitoring the militarized zone, whatever else it might be. When we talk about peace enforcement we are talking about much greater military force being authorized and that's exactly what was needed in East Timor and what was authorized. The UN Security Council has given to INTERFET led by Australia the obligation to do three things:
(1) to restore peace and security to East Timor;
(2) to ensure the protection of UNAMET and to enable UNAMET to fulfill its mandate; and
(3) to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance by international aid organizations.
Now for each of those three obligations that INTERFET has been tasked to undertake, the Security Council has given it the authority to use all necessary measures to ensure that that mandate is fulfilled. That language is accepted wording for any force that the commander of the operation deems is required - including shooting to kill. That means that if the Militia or TNI or any other actoreither attack INTERFET troops or the civilians in East Timor then the force has an obligation, as far as the Security Council is concerned, to crack down very hard. I think it is also extremely important, and also encouraging I would say, that in the first operative paragraph of the resolution the Security Council demands that those responsible for atrocities be brought to justice. As far as I know, this is a unique reference in Security Council resolutions which have authorized a peace enforcement deployment.
We are learning some lessons in the international community I think, and rather than in the case of the conflict in the Balkans or in the Genocide in Rwanda where the initiative to create a peace enforcement justice regime has come quite some time after the initial deployment of force by the Security Council, in this case we have seen the call for that very early on. I thought Mary Robinson was outstanding in her challenge to the international community to establish an international criminal tribunal. When I heard her the weekend before last while she was in Darwin making that plea I was a little bit dubious about whether the Security Council would actually be willing to authorize a third ad-hoc international criminal tribunal in addition to the two that already exist. But it does seem that a much greater momentum exists for that possibility - as a consequence particularly of Mary Robinson's efforts. If you needed an argument for greater representation of women in the UN perhaps Mary Robinson is doing the best she can to demonstrate how significant that might be, because she, unlike so many other senior representatives of the UN, has refused to stuff around with diplomatic niceties and talk the way it really is. I find that reassuring indeed.
I'd like to just mention some lessons learnt from past peace-keeping operations that might give us some hope that INTERFET can do a reasonable job. Then I will finish with a few comments on the prospects for international criminal trials. In relation to the job that INTERFET is now confronted with, I would say that it was a mistake perhaps by both the Australian government and certainly the UN in New York to either fail to insist on a peace-keeping operation being deployed as soon as the result of the referendum was known, if it was for independence. If it really is true that the Indonesian Government would never have accepted such a demand in the New York Agreement then it was wrong to insist on the vote proceeding when the UN had failed to put a system in place to guarantee the safety of the people who came out to vote - quite apart from ensuring the safety of UNAMET personnel themselves. The international community was supposed to have learnt a lesson from Rwanda about not dilly-dallying in the face of a call for urgent and substantive military assistance.
Kofi Annan says that he is personally haunted as the then Director of Peace-Keeping operations in New York by the failure to respond to General Dalliare's request in Rwanda for the deployment of troops. Some people think that it is right that he does feel haunted about that because that was a monumental stuff-up on the part of the UN - not to take that urgent request from Dalliare more seriously. In this case in East Timor, I do not accept that the International community and the Australian Government can say that they had no idea how terrible the atrocities would be. The early warning signs were all there and perhaps we still haven't learnt the lessons from Rwanda.
Sue said that I would say something about Cambodia and since that is the topic of some of her research I probably should make a couple of comments. It is interesting to listen to some of what General Sanderson says about the operation in Cambodia which he lead with distinction. UNTAC was the first time the UN had been called upon to exercise transitional authority in a country and be confronted with the rebuilding of the infrastructure of government, the processes and systems that would enable Cambodia to exercise independently a legal system. General Sanderson says that one of the problems UNTACtroops had was when they witnessed criminal activity going on and they took people into custody, but had no means to deal with them and were holding people in detention for lengthy periods of time with no trial because there was no judicial system and no legal process in place. One key lesson from Cambodia is the need for a legal system for the detention of those engaged in criminal activity.
One reason why I am confident about ADF involvement in the leadership of INTERFET is that the only national delegation in Somalia that did a good job - that was consistently singled out for praise - was the Australian contingent. The Somalia operation is generally seen as an abject failure and the reason why the Australian involvement is not characterised in that way is because the Australians applied the law of military occupation to the Baidoa region they were in and as part of their obligations of an occupying power, they recruited former Somali judges, they recruited former Somali police officers, they retrained them and helped them to begin to administer a system of Somali justice. As a consequence of doing that and of taking some of the War Lords into captivity, trying them and punishing them under Somali law, that part of the operation was deemed to be a great success. A major challenge for INTERFET, particularly as it hands over to the envisaged peace-keeping operation once it fulfills its mandate, is to put into place an East Timorese legal system to deal with those who are brought into custody.
I have very little time in which to make some comments about the prospects for international criminal trials. There are a couple of key obstacles to the prospect of an international criminal trial that Mary Robinson is calling for - one of them is the political will of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council to vote for such a tribunal and I suspect there are a several reasons why the Council may not take that step. One issue will be the question of funding the Tribunal because it will be an expensive exercise if it goes ahead. Another issue is the position of China - whether it will be prepared to abstain from supporting a resolution, in which case the resolution might be carried, or whether it will actually vote no, and so veto the resolution. If that happens there is a possibility that the General Assembly could recommend the establishment of a tribunal along the lines of the two that exist. The constitutional authority of the General Assembly has never been exercised in that way before but many believe the competence exists in the UN Charter for the Assembly to do such a thing and thatwould certainly cause a few of the permanent five members to sit up and take notice. If it happened it might be a good thing. I think even if a tribunal is established, if there is sufficient political will in New York to enable that to happen, then one of the obvious challenges is going to be the question of custody of the defendants - of those who are indicted to appear before the tribunal. I don't see that the international legal system is ready yet to grant police powers to an international institution to go into Indonesia, in this case, and take people into custody. I know that Jose Ramos Horta is very keen on trials in absentia because of the problem of obtaining custody of the appropriate people and that concept is being rejected in the case of the two ad-hoc tribunals that already exist as well as in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Although there might be good educative reasons for trials in absentia, so far the international committee has not been prepared to embrace that notion.
There is no doubt that an international criminal tribunal option is the most straight forward way of dealing with the perpetrators of atrocity in East Timor and would certainly provide the necessary authority to proceed with trials. I hope that proposal becomes a reality but I also accept that we are a little way away from being confident about that just yet. Thanks very much.
Yes I have both emotional and physical association with East Timor. This is the thing (holds up a large rock) that I got from the Militia, got on my back and wrecked the car and this is the souvenir which I got from our friends, from the Militia.
Yes the Indonesian media at least during the Soeharto era has been accustomed to the word limitations. In the era of the New Order we were used to having self censorship - that the media refrain from criticizing the government, now the association with East Timor is quite big in this issue because the Australian media do not have such limitation, the only hindrance perhaps that face the Australian children is their language barrier, they don't speak Indonesian or Tetum, and also the limited number of officers in the Indonesian army and police who speak English, that is why perhaps the Australian journalists do not communicate with them very much.
Now the role of national media in Indonesia during East Timor is vital. I refer to this self censorship which has resulted in the Indonesian television viewers having a different picture about what is really taking place in East Timor especially Dili. The footage of mass destruction, earth-scorching campaign in Dili and other major centers are not reported, the footage is not displayed over Indonesian television.
Now given that fact, it is not surprising that the Indonesian people especially some of the highly politicized student movements in Jakarta think that Australia has been interfering in Indonesia's internal affairs. Now I have to stress the word internal affair here, because those students and youth are the product of the post 1975 era. The Indonesian government has changed the issue of annexation of East Timor into the issue of salvaging the oppressed East Timorese from the bondage of Portuguese colonization. Now the use of the word integration has become a must in Indonesian political and journalistic vocabulary. The new order government in my opinion has succeeded in changing the history of Indonesian involvement in East Timor and what we are witnessing in Jakarta and other major cities now, is the result of this policy. On the issue of East Timor we can also see that there is a different stand between the national newspaper in Indonesian language and that of English.
If one reads the Jakarta Post for instance which is popular, one can only assume that Indonesian newspapers are free and fair and objective to a certain extent of course, like newspapers in western countries, the fact that it is printed in English has freed the papers from official reprimand or even closure. It's editorial of 17th September stated with a biting opening, thanks to the leadership of President Habibie and Indonesian Military Commander General Wiranto, we Indonesians as a nation have suffered one international indignity after another in this past two weeks. The decision to accept on Sunday a United Nation peace-keeping force in East Timor came in the face of strong international pressure, then on Wednesday the Security Council unanimously voted to establish a multinational force and get a full mandate to restore peace. This means the use of military force, if necessary. Now rubbing salt into the wounds, the United Nation's Secretary General, Kofi Annan ignored Indonesia's objections and named Australia to head the force.
I cannot imagine an Indonesian newspaper printed such an editorial in the Indonesian language to begin with, and also it is unthinkable that such an editorial would go into the press during this Suharto era. If the East Timor crisis had taken place in the 1960's Sukarno would probably have told Secretary General Kofi Annan to go to hell. The fact that president Habibie has invited the multi-national forces has been regarded by most Indonesians as humiliation of humiliating defeat, in fact during the East Timor issue there is no denying that the entire nation suffers as a result. No matter how they explain it or what excuses they come up with for the situation in East Timor, the bottom line is Indonesia is responsible for everything that has happened there said the (Jakarta) Post editorial.
Now Indonesian and Australian media handle the East Timor issue in starkly different manner. If we look at the history of its inception, the media in both countries came into existence through a different process. Australian press was born like any other media in the western world, it is an information gathering necessity as well as a business enterprise. Now the Indonesian press on the other hand at least in it's early days came into existence hand in hand with its independence movement, this is important. In their reporting the issue of East Timor, the issue has been handled rather differently by the Australian and the Indonesian media. Australian media has been perceived to be concentrating more on the pro-independence movement and their activities, every single rally no matter how small would get big coverage. It is only logical of course because for the past twenty-five years East Timor never witnessed such activities. The fact that there are more pro independents who speak English than the pro-autonomy opposition also help them.
However their Indonesian counter-part perhaps have concentrated more on the official lines, statements given by the governor, the police chief and the military commander in reporting about certain incidents or clashes between the two conflicting factions in East Timor. The national media tend to print accounts given by the authorities in more detailed format than their Australian counterpart.
Now in conclusion I would like to say that the idea of nationalism which I mentioned earlier to a certain extent now is being maintained. The Indonesian government would always remind the media of this spirit. Now that the East Timorese have decided to vote for this second option, that is to choose to become independent, the Indonesian media are again being reminded of their duty to defame the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia of 17th August 1945. However one thing has not been mentioned that the Republic of Indonesia is a country that once was the Netherlands of East Indies, which East Timor was never, never a part of. Thankyou.
It has been 24 years for a response of 10 minutes, well I think building East Timor is now from scratch, as you've seen on television, everything has been destroyed, peoples lives, property, everything has been destroyed. So in terms of nation building we have to tackle it from all levels and all fronts. Infrastructure buildings, but most importantly trauma, that these 24 years of that continuous oppression and this has culminated in massive killings and destruction and specially to the point of attacking the catholic church and protestant church, all the churches that during the 24 years Indonesia never touched.
I mean in 24 years not one priest was killed, they were bashed up sometimes but not killed. None of the parishes were burned but this time they destroyed everything. East Timorese were prepared to forgive in the word of reconciliation to Indonesia, even Indonesian Military, I mean I was there for six weeks, you know going past the military post, it was that kind of good will, waving to them, even shaking hands with them as a sign of friendship. We wanted to get into a new stage for East Timor as friendship but that sign of goodwill turned into an incredible hurt that people have sustained. But I think we will still look to the future and we will still see this whole scenario and peace-keeping force going in, the incredible support of the international community, support of Australians and support of our Indonesian friends from within Indonesia. This is a sign of victory for peace and freedom. All of us, the people of Indonesia, the people of East Timor are all winners in this sense, there is perhaps the military who don't see it that way.
Information has filtered through that the Militia's and the Military are taking the men out and they will never come back to the camp, so you can imagine what will happen to them. So this is really an extreme concern and we really need our friends to continue to maintain that pressure so that we can get those people back into East Timor safely. Trauma counseling is going to be an incredible work task that has to be undertaken. We are talking about the entire population traumatized with war and the counseling have to take place, so the process of rehabilitation will have to take place, hand in hand with the infrastructure development, food productions and so forth and of course we will expect our good willed friends to come and help and we also will expect our Indonesian friends to come and help us out.
In terms of East Timor's future prospects, we are prepared as a people and as a nation to contribute to world peace and I think I will repeat the words of my leader Jose Ramos Horta that as soon as East Timor declares its independence, East Timor will ratify all the conventions of universal human rights declaration. We will be the first country in the world to do that. I think Australia has not done that. We will do it; we will contribute and give our help to the international peace and freedom of peoples around the world. What we see as the possibility that a negative possibility, an expensive possibility will take place, in East Timor, especially in the border between West Timor and East Timor. We hope it won't happen but we foresee this problem that Indonesian military will continue to conduct border rage into East Timor and that has been the plan that the Military have talked about for months before and I think this is when we need to really tackle the problem on a political level both with outside East Timor, inside East Timor and within Indonesia.
People in Indonesia must be told the truth that the military must stop spending money on a futile war buying bullets and killing people where thousands of millions of people in Jakarta have no food and no health care and so on and we need to divert that and it is very important that East Timorese, NGO's, Indonesian NGO's work together to really denounce that kind activity to take place. Let's hope it won't but we need to take preventative action and to denounce this from the start like we have done, denouncing the military plan that the military was going to rampage through out East Timor to riot and the governments didn't take much notice but we knew that it was going to take place and so this time we also want to take preventative action and hopefully as many people within Indonesia - political leadership within Indonesia. I mean when there is no money to help people in Indonesia, why spend on bullets and guns to kill East Timorese and combat that kind of warfare.
So an independent East Timor, we will have relationships with the countries in the region, we will join the ASEAN and we will join the countries of the South Pacific Forum, two countries that we will join up as members and we hope it will be a new step for peaceful co-existence within the region. We hope that we can live together side by side with our Indonesian brothers and sisters and with Australia, New Zealand and the region as a whole. The world is not as easy yet but we will work towards that kind of peaceful co-existence. We hope to have a good co-operative relationships especially within Eastern Indonesian - Nusa Tenggara, Timor Province, Kupang and so on. I was asked the question - are you going to take over Kupang as part of the entire island and I said, well we definitely won't do that, it's up to the Timorese in West Timor to choose whatever they need.
But in terms of economic circumstances that will take place, definitely there will be trade within West Timor, East Timor and other Indonesian islands and islands in Eastern Indonesia, with Australia as well and one of the things that we will be tackling as our universal aspect for the whole of Eastern Indonesia is malaria because you cannot eradicate malaria in East Timor without tackling malaria in West Timor and other parts of Eastern Indonesia. We will be willing to cooperate with the province of Noosa Tungara and work in a common interest approach so that all our people in the region can enjoy good health, because Malaria is the biggest killer in the region. I think I'll stop here and answer any questions
It is very difficult for me to talk for 10 minutes, I will try my best, there are so many things you can talk about in East Timor. My topic today is looking at the internal dynamics of Indonesian politics and how East Timor has become a political commodity when in Australia also it is a political commodity for the politicians, the same as in Indonesia.
First of all we have to state that I think some people who are more rational know that East Timor independence can not be stopped. It is impossible for Indonesia to stop it. First of all because East Timor's case has got a lot of strong support from the international community and if Indonesia tried to fight against it, it would be isolated like in the case of Yugoslavia. Secondly what is more important is that Indonesia is having an economic crisis and we need whoever is pro Indonesia in the future need to work together with the World Bank, whether you like it or not. As a matter of fact the economic policy of Indonesia is basically dictated by the World Bank, and so I think this explains how Indonesian politicians that were very strong against international peace-keeping forces.
So you can see that the battle of East Timor now especially after the referendum is not in East Timor within the Military but it is between Washington and Jakarta. That has to be known. If you talk about the political dynamics in Indonesia in relation to East Timor, first of all East Timor has never been important, in the Indonesian politics, only now after it becomes international tensions then it becomes important. I would broadly take three categories of the political actors, first Habibie, secondly the Military and thirdly the political parties, of course this is a very broad point. There are issues in East Timor, first the humanitarian issues that people get killed there. I think this issue is played especially by the political parties, Amien Rais, Ms Megawati and Gus Dur, attacking Habibie and the military, saying look you make a mess, why don't you care to do it cleanly? we don't mind about the killing of the people but do it cleanly, but you failed to do that. So they are attacking Habibie and the Military by the political parties.
Secondly nationalism - again the nationalisms are displayed by the political parties especially against Habibie because he allowed the peace-keeping forces to enter Indonesia. Megawati made it very explicit that Habibie is not a nationalist by inviting the peace-keeping force, he was asked to come to the parliament and answer the questions - why he invited the peace-keeping forces and that leads anti Australia sentiment. I think the anti-Australian sentiment displayed especially by the Military and first of all because nationalism is too broad. If you play nationalism you have to attack also the US, Japan and all the United Nations. This will be too broad and too difficult especially because Indonesia needs the World Bank money and so it is better to have a scapegoat - Australia is very convenient to be there. And the attack on Australia unified to a certain extent Indonesians. The political parties, the military and Habibie.
So that explains a little bit why Australian sentiment is very important now in Indonesia because that can unify the country. Nationalism itself is too broad, it's objectless in a sense, because if the object is made clear, it has to include the US and all other peace-keeping forces, that is too burdensome for Indonesia, that is the other thing. The case of East Timor - I don't think I can finish everything. The case of East Timor for Habibie, it is important because Habibie as you know has a lot of problems, corruptions, Bali bank, so many, I mean Habibie can not survive it and is being attacked by many people because of the huge corruption that was involved, not to mention that he was also a very close friend of Suharto. Now at the moment with the East Timor case, Habibie could divert the political dialogue into East Timor to a certain extent, so for Habibie East Timor is very handy to avoid international/national disaster. For the military also it is very important to take Australia - not to blame, because it covers the military killings, the humanitarian effort - this is Australia, who took the initiative to insult us and also it covers the mistakes made by the military. If you look at the history of East Timor it is of the military project basically, more than the politicians project. Of course at the time, the president was Soeharto and he was also Military. So Anti-Australian sentiment in the East Timor case is very handy again for Habibie and for the Military.
Now why the military failed to restore order in Indonesia. We have three theories here. The first theory is there is no political will from the Military to restore order because they don't want to restore order, they want to put East Timor into Indonesia but there are some questions - I will discuss it if I have time later - this theory is weak in the sense because the impositions of Martial Law, why the military need to impose martial law and they can not do it. They don't have to do it if they know that they don't want to do it. Secondly this is the official reason - Psychological - they said that the military trained the Militia to fight in the old days and they couldn't take harsh actions against the Militia, because they were partners before. Now this is a weak argument because if this is so that means Indonesian military is not professional at all. I think a military must not have any free will, they have to follow instructions. If the Indonesian soldiers do no follow the instructions of Wiranto for instance, that means they are not professional soldiers at all. Certainly I think that there are factions in the military, they fight against each other and Wiranto cannot fight against these factions and that means that there are inhibitions among the military. I tried to explain these factions. This is a little bit complicated but I will try my best and also to make it short.
There are three political factions I would say the first one is the old warriors, the old generals who were involved in the invasion of East Timor. This one talks about pride, they just read that about maybe 20,000 military personnel died within this 25 years of upruling in East Timor, so they talk about - no we can not make East Timor free because we have sacrificed a lot not only in terms of investment but also lives because of the soldiers. These old warriors, the generals are not functional any more but I think they have influence. Secondly the business group - there are many investments, Soeharto cronies and also some generals have many investments in East Timor. Coffee plantations, marbles, mining and also sandalwood and not only the big generals even the small Colonel Captains - they call East Timor, I quote a friend of mine who told me this "a piggy bank". You know they bought one or two hectares of land and they think they could get back to East Timor later.These people don't want to have a free East Timor. And the third group are the young officers, I think Wiranto belongs to this. I think Wiranto is not necessarily agreeing with the two groups, for Wiranto and for the young officers, they don't have any emotional attachment to the past, they want to get rid of East Timor if possible but of course Wiranto is not strong enough to fight against the old warriors as well as the business groups. Too bad I don't have time but I want to talk about stages, about referendum and how the strategies of these two military factions are working together. Sometimes they work together, sometimes they don't work together but I would say that at the moment I think Wiranto, the young officers are more or less controlling the situation especially because of the international community. But the old warriors and the business groups are still attacking, so there is a possibility - this is more emotional - this is not a long term feud but they just want to say - look we have been hurt so we have to do something to make things ugly. So there is a possibility that the peace-keeping force would be attacked by these people, but I think it will not have any political future. The future is with East-Timorese people, the pro-independence ones. I think I'll stop here and we can talk later on, I think I'm too ambitious to say so many things.
Created: 01 February 2007 3:28pm
Last Modified: 17 February 2011 10:55am
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