Fri, 14 Jan 2000

The U.S.: A party to mass murder?

By Frank Richardson

This is the second of two articles examining the influence of the United States government on Indonesia in the past 30 years.

JAKARTA (JP): The U.S., of course, welcomed the 1965 coup it had helped to orchestrate and immediately dispatched weapons to Jakarta while the CIA further abetted the killing spree by providing a list of PKI members to the army.

Soeharto then placed himself at the top of a broad-based pyramid of corruption which involved the bureaucracy and the military compliantly suppressing the masses in order to obtain kickbacks from many of the conglomerate owners who were becoming fabulously rich.

However, unbeknown to the American public, Soeharto himself was very much an American quisling who was part of an even broader pyramid of corruption that includes many Western nations which, with the help of the grim deeds of the CIA in particular, has America itself at the apex.

While Articles 3 and 5 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly state: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person" and "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment", the American government in its paranoia obviously felt the "communist threat" justified completely ignoring the Declaration.

As a result CIA manipulations and machinations in Indonesia led to the killing of between 500,000 and one million socialists and ordinary peasants and the establishment of an oppressive military dictatorship headed by an American quisling that the people of Indonesia had to endure for more than three decades.

So pleased was CIA Director William Colby with the success of the Indonesian operation, that similar tactics and exploitation of death squad operations were later used in Vietnam, Guatemala and other parts of Latin America.

Naturally, the United States supported the militaristic ambitions of its quisling, Soeharto, in East Timor, too. Arms and counterinsurgency equipment ($1 billion worth since 1975), training and diplomatic support were all provided after the American-approved invasion in 1975.

Australia followed suit by providing not only military aid to Indonesia; but also recognition of Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor in the hope of gaining benefits from East Timor's offshore oil resources.

The covert activities of the American government in Indonesia during the 1960s and 1970s clearly amount to crimes against peace and humanity as defined by Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal of 1945, which was later confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946.

However, while action is currently being taken to bring the war criminals of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo to justice, nothing has been done to ensure war criminals in the American government are brought to book despite fine sounding statements.

One such statement came from President Clinton in Macedonia on June 2, 1999: "But never forget if we can do this here, and if we can then say to the people of the world, whether you live in Africa, or Central Europe, or any other place, if somebody comes after innocent civilians and tries to kill them en masse because of their race, their ethnic background or their religion, and it's within our power to stop it, we will stop it."

While, therefore, America has been dubbed the "Land of the Free" it appears to have come to think it is sufficiently free and privileged to abuse, oppress and, where necessary, arrange the killing of people around the world whom it deems to not serve its avaricious interests.

It is time the illegal and heinous activities of the U.S. government were firmly brought under control. However, because of America's enormous economic might, few governments have the courage to challenge American lawlessness on the international scene. Clearly, in the case of Indonesia, the U.S. should pay extensive reparations for the killings and total disruption and dislocation of civilian society that occurred during and after the 1965 coup.

Since America has acted unlawfully, the contracts between American companies and Soeharto's family members and cronies could be called into question and, eventually, compensation awarded to the people of Indonesia.

Because it is essential that the U.S. be made accountable and subject to international law, these issues need to be strenuously pursued in the international courts and in the courts of America itself.

However, the U.S. is, of course, not the only country implicated in what amounts to a rape of Indonesia. Many other Western nations attracted by a market of over 200 million people, a relatively large budget for arms purchases, Indonesia's natural resources and geopolitical advantages, have put their own usually much vaunted ethics and values aside for the sake of profit. Britain, for example, until recently, was Indonesia's largest arms supplier among countries which include the Netherlands and Germany.

It is time a clear message be sent to the U.S. and other equally far from transparent military and economic powers around the world, that a heavy penalty must be paid for perpetrating sophisticated barbarism against what are, in the main, the peaceable and often innocent and all-too-compliant "pawns" of the Third World. In the case of Indonesia the reparations and compensation awarded ought, by rights, amount to many multiples of the amount the U.S. currently, and seemingly so very generously, is donating to the country in aid.

The author is director of Khresna International Education Foundation and a keen observer of how social and political events in Indonesia are often greatly influenced by governments and events beyond its control overseas.