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Letter re Bali tragedy
15 October 2002
While nothing can ever justify the heart sickening loss of young lives in Bali, it is not wholly surprising that there are elements in Indonesia prepared to use the terror tactics institutionalised during the Suharto era.
Your editorial suggests that Indonesia is 'combustible', but surely a finger of blame points back to Australia and New Zealand. For decades we have backed a regime that practised systematic terror against its own people - from the massacre of up to one million in 1965 to the murderous attacks on Chinese Indonesians and students in the 1990s. Only the final terrible blood bath in East Timor induced New Zealand to break off defence co-operation with Indonesia, and we have been quiet since while the Generals responsible have got away with their crimes.
Moreover, New Zealand and other western nations happily drained Indonesia of key resources until the economic crisis hit.
One hopeful sign is that new voices for civil society are being heard in Indonesia. Some of them are human rights activists who recently wrote to the US Congress to urge it not to make their democratic reform job harder by training and supporting the Indonesian military.