Mon, 16 Oct 2000

Guterres a patriot?

I am staggered by the support shown to Eurico Guterres, who is now being paraded before us as a true Indonesian patriot. This same man was quoted two years ago as saying that he just wanted to be left in peace to drink and gamble. But now, according to Amien Rais, four legislators from the House of Representatives and a host of other respectable people and publications, Eurico Guterres must be lauded as a hero of the Indonesian people. In the search for a heroic figure, some people in Indonesia are unfortunately scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Is patriotism in Indonesia now exemplified by the ruthless slaughter of unarmed people, whether they are women, men or children? Is heroism defined by barbarian acts, bravery embodied in the terrorizing of people who don't happen to share the same point of view? Does Indonesia now proudly exhibit thugs as patriots?

It is common knowledge that "patriots" are paid a fee for the severed heads of their enemies in Maluku. Let us not forget the many "patriot" that have "bravely" beaten people half to death and then burn them alive because they stole a chicken, or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If Amien Rais wishes to portray Guterres as a patriot and a hero, then perhaps he should consider a statue of Guterres, to be placed at a strategic location in the heart of Jakarta for all to see. Have this 27-year-old thug cast in bronze, wearing the militia uniform and standing tall and proud over the bones of his victims? It is unlikely that Guterres' crimes will see the light of day because crimes of this magnitude are more often than not hidden beneath a mantle of legitimacy. Thugs become heroes, greedy men become legislators and innocent people become victims.

But if Guterres' crimes are exposed to the light of day, then it will be because of the courage and patriotism of a few people here in Indonesia who do not kowtow to thugs and greedy men, and who believe in justice and the freedom of choice. They are the heroes, Mr. Amien Rais, and you no longer stand among them although I once believed that you were a good man. So much for hindsight.

I hope that Eurico Guterres will get what he has wanted all along, to be left alone in peace to drink and gamble. In prison!