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Peace Council of Aotearoa - Statement on East Timor

22 September 1999

INDONESIA THE INVADER - AN ANALYSIS [Peace Council of Aotearoa New Zealand] [22/09/99]

Prior to the APEC meetings in Auckland (Sept 12-14), Government ministers insisted the killings in East Timor by the Indonesian army (TNI) and militia, who were armed by them prior to the referendum on 30 August 1999, would only be a fringe issue at the Apec agenda. The Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Don McKinnon stated that Apec was an economic body that should not deal with human rights. On 6 September [Dominion 7 Sept.] he said " There is certainly time for ministers to talk in the margins of APEC about the issue, and that is always the place that these issue are discussed." However, on 7 September the Minister made a very strong statement to parliament condemning the violence in East Timor and reminded Indonesia of its responsibilities under 5 May agreements with the UN to ensure peace and security. "There is the gravest risk of the democratically expressed wish of East Timorese people to determine their own future being subverted" he continued. By that time public opinion was running hot against the stalling of sending a peacekeeping army to East Timor. Government faxes had run out of paper that afternoon.

On 7 September the Peace Council bearing in mind the East Timorese voted decisively for independence and that the UN had guaranteed the protection and safety of its people and had failed to do so, faxed the Hon Don McKinnon and stated:"We believe it is vital and urgent that a Provisional Government be set up immediately in East Timor which can bypass the deliberate stalling of the international community and call directly on foreign governments to immediately send protective military forces to East Timor. In responding to such an initiative and being joined by an Australian peacekeeper army out of deep humanitarian concern we will revive our enduring ANZAC spirit." In support of government's initial stance, the newly appointed "independent" read "politically aligned" director David Dickens of the Center of Strategic Studies at Victoria University stated that "New Zealand has no direct interest in East Timor [Evening Post 8 Sept.]

On 7 September, the US Foreign Minister Madeleine Albright who was in New Zealand discussed the issue of East Timor with our Ministers. She echoed the words of US Defence Secretary Bill Cheney who said the US did not want to get militarily involved in Indonesia by saying she did not favour the use of peacekeeping troops in Indonesia. She was told the issue was on the agenda next day at a ministerial meeting and said she would not attend it. However, she turned up at the ministerial meeting and changed her stance when she said, "Time is running out to halt the savagery." Next day (9 Sept) a further ministerial meeting was scheduled at which four of the five permanent members of the Security Council were present. PM Jenny Shipley ruled out putting East Timor on the Agenda of the Apec Summit. She had spoken to Bill Clinton the day before to get his commitment for a peacekeeping force, but Clinton agreed only to support efforts to send a peacekeeping force [Dominion 10 Sept.]. On 10 September before leaving for Auckland, President Clinton called for an end of the "gross abuses" in East Timor and said the crisis would dominate the gathering of Pacific Rim leaders. He went on to say "the Indonesian government must invite the international community to restore peace if it could not end the violence in East Timor." [Dominion 11 Sept]

The mood of other Foreign Ministers present called for urgent action. Australia was concerned about another Rwanda on its doorstep and their forces were ready to go. It was extremely disturbing that PM Shipley did not get behind the Australian initiative and demonstrate our ANZAC spirit instead of waiting to see if the US would give military support. Her unwillingness to join the Aussies suggested that she was afraid that US vital interests ie arm sales, military training and multinational interests in Indonesia would be jeopardised. Our poorly equipped but well trained ground forces were possibly a further reason why the Prime Minister delayed her decision to send a peacekeeping force. Later the Prime Minister under intense public pressure had to reverse their stand of keeping East Timor off the Agenda and trade and tariffs took second place.

It seems to have escaped our news media entirely that whilst the US has the best military intelligence in the world and has very close associations with the Indonesian Generals and the Kopassus, (special forcers trained by US Military that carried out massacres including 270 peaceful protestors in 1991) that they were ignorant of the General's

intentions concerning the outcome of the referendum. What is apparent is that the US served no warning on Indonesia to desist from genocidal actions even up to the time of the Apec Summit meeting when East Timor was utterly destroyed. News carried by the London Observer on 20 Sept. revealed that the Kopusses who carried out the recent violence and atrocities in East Timor were trained in the US under a covert program sponsored by the Clinton administration. The UK carried out a similar program. The hidden agenda is much the same as when multinational companies vied for contracts once Iraq, Kuwait and Yugoslavia were destroyed. In reconstructing East Timor its government will have to borrow from International financiers who will plunder the wealth of the country and demand privatisation of the country's resources.

The situation of our ground forces is a shocking scandal. Despite the 1997 White Paper, which gave priority spending to equipping ground forces, following the experience in Bosnia when they had to borrow equipment from the British army, government nevertheless under pressure from the Minister of Defence and the PM sought the supply of 26US jet fighters and another frigate. Such ordinance is completely useless for peacekeeping and maritime surveillance purposes, which were the two principal strategic concerns outlined in the White Paper.

Hon Derek Quigley, Chairperson of the Foreign Affair Select Committee made a stinging rebuke [Dominion 17 Sept.] in response to an editorial that tried to suggest that our army's failure to do peacekeeping work was that we had not trained with US military. Mr Quigley dismissed this fiction and said little notice was taken of the Select Committee's recommendations.

The UN has never recognised Indonesia's illegal occupation and sovereignty over East Timor when it was invaded in December1975, killing some 200,000 East Timorese. Australia was the only country that recognised Indonesia's annexation in the late 70s The Australian government signed a deal with Indonesia for the exploitation and sharing of oil in the East Timor Gap. Australia had entered into a treaty of friendship with Indonesia and engaged in military cooperation

The United States administration has always supported the military dictatorship of President Suharto ever since as General of the army he engineered a coup in 1965 and massacred over one million Indonesian "communists' and overthrew President Sukarno". In addition to the genocide in East Timor, General Suharto's army annexed Irian Jaya in 1963 and over the next 22 years murdered some 150,000 to 300,000 Melanesians who objected to being ruled by a foreign power. The UN has done nothing to address these crimes. Those members of the UN who accepted Indonesia's occupation of Irian Jaya on the grounds that the land was "terra Nullius" a land without people bear responsibility for not protecting human rights of the indigenous peoples. Killings of protestors in Aceh, Ambo, Kalimantou are also taking place show ruthless the TNI is.

There was a lack of international will based firmly within the support given and fully documented for the initial Indonesian invasion, support which ought to be accorded status as a war crime. It should be remembered that the invasion took place the morning after the departure from Jakarta of President Ford and Henry Kissinger, and the support for the invasion is recounted fully in US ambassador to the UN Daniel Patrick Moynahan's autobiography, when it was his duty to emasculate any UN reaction. He writes: "The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success."

Marshal Green, a senior US diplomat, who was Ambassador to Indonesia from 1965 to 1969 oversaw the decisive part the US played in the events that led up to this massacre. Soon after his appointment to Australia as US ambassador, (six months after PM Whitlam came to power on 2 Dec. 1972), Marshall Green admitted to his part in the massacre stating ". "But when [Pres.] Sukarno announced in August 17 speech that Indonesia would have a communist government within a year, then I was almost certain… what we did we had to do". [John Pilger "The Secret Country", p153.]

According to Lieutenant Colonel Moloney rtd, a contingent of New Zealand SAS men took part in destabilising President Sukarno in the 60s during the Malaysia insurgency. NZ also took part in other SAS covert actions in Korea, Viet Nam and Iraq at the request of the US. US support for the Indonesia military dictatorship has brought considerable benefits to US multinational companies eg Nike is allowed to exploit Indonesian workers paying them 80 cents a day and selling their products 100 times more than they cost. [Catholic Worker] The army general's first occupation is serving on the boards of enterprises including multinational companies -some also has coffee and other interests in East Timor. Former President George Bush was boasting of the support given to the Indonesian military, by way of training and the fact the US has given two billion dollars of military aid. Britain has also been a major supplier of arms to the Jakarta dictatorship

Following the position taken by NZ government's since the invasion of East Timor in 1975, the NZ Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Don McKinnon said some time ago that the sovereignty of Indonesia over east Timor was irreversible, contrary to the views of informed public opinion. This and the fact the US was soft on Suharto explains why our government also trained with the Indonesian army and refurbish their military aircraft the "Skyhawk". During the period leading up to Suharto's demise in 1998, the US sent the assault ship USS Belleauwood from Sasebo in Japan to Indonesian waters were US forces trained Indonesians in riot control.

Columnist Chris Trotter [Dominion 17 Sept.] recalled Radio New Zealand's Al Morrison scathing remarks about Jenny Shipley's and Don McKinnon's performance after which Don McKinnon informed the world that the East Timor crisis was bigger than Apec after the meeting of foreign ministers on 9 Sept. Morrison went on to say people were watching the sickening footage from Dili on their TV, only to be told by government that Apec was and "inappropriate forum." in which to discuss the unfolding humanitarian tragedy. Chris Trotter criticised New Zealand's diplomatic efforts saying: "The real reason for Habibie's capitulation to the pressure came not from the alleged soft diplomacy of our Prime Minister, but from tough talk in Canberra, Ottawa, Brussels and New York, and when the US pulled the plug on Indonesia recognising the call for action"

It is an indictment that East Timor did not receive an International protection force before, during or after the referendum even though the UN were advised by their staff in East Timor a month before the referendum that killings would be carried out by the militia who were then conducting a reign of violence condoned by their army. As early as May Bishop Bello and others were calling out for a UN peacekeeping force to halt the violence. Questions must be asked why NZ armed forces were put on stand-by for East Timor as early as the end of July if government was not expecting the worst to happen.

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. ***

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