[Mb-civic] Condoleezza Rice Revisits The Scene Of Us Crimes
ean at sbcglobal.net
ean at sbcglobal.net
Tue Mar 28 16:40:52 PST 2006
Condoleezza Rice Revisits The Scene Of Us Crimes
March 27, 2006
By Andre Vltchek
"Do you know how Chileans first learned about Indonesia?" asks Jorge
Insulza, foreign secretary of the Chilean Communist Party. "Long
before the coup of Pinochet, right wingers were intimidating members
of progressive movements and parties: 'Watch out, Jakarta is
Thus the reference to the 1965 military coup led by General Suharto
which was full-heartedly supported by western politicians and
companies. In a matter of months, between 1 and 3 million Indonesian
Communists, atheists and members of the Chinese minority were
mercilessly slaughtered in what can be described as easily the most
intensive massacre of the 20th century.
A few days after talking to Insulza I was facing Chilean victims of
the 1973 coup who had come to see my documentary film
"Terlena--Breaking of a Nation," about the Indonesian dictatorship,
at Universidad Arsis in Santiago. One elderly woman, apparently
shaken, came close to me and whispered: "we heard it was bad there,
but we had no idea that it was so bad. Apparently,
Chile and Indonesia not only share the same ocean, they also share a
In March, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice decided to embark on
a round-the-world journey, visiting Chile, Indonesia and Australia.
The symbolism of her trip conveniently escaped the attention of
almost all mass media outlets.
In both countries, dictatorship officially collapsed under
tremendous popular pressure: in Chile in the late 80's, in Indonesia
almost 10 years later. But both former client states developed in a
radically different way: one proudly embarked on a democratic path
emphasizing social development, while the other struggled under a
feudal system with most people living in outright misery.
The reason for Ms. Rice's visiting Chile was the inauguration of new
Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet - a socialist, single mother of
three and an agnostic. Ms. Rice had to sit through and swallow an
inaugural speech in which President Bachelet paid homage to her
father, Alberto Bachelet, an air-force general kidnapped, tortured
and murdered in prison for opposing the 1973 coup against the
democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende.
Michelle Bachelet herself survived imprisonment, torture and exile,
by-products of US foreign policy. But now she was proudly taking her
oath at the crowded Hall of Honor of Chile's Congress in the
historical and stunning port city of Valparaiso, surrounded by her
friends - leaders of left-wing governments from all over South
"South America has changed," declared Hugo Chavez, the President of
Venezuela who has managed to survive a US-supported coup. "A worker
is president of Brazil - there comes Lula; an Indian is president of
Bolivia; a woman is president of Chile, and in Venezuela, a
revolutionary soldier, which is what I am."
Condoleezza Rice described the elections in Chile as a "triumph of
democracy," omitting the fact that the triumph took more than 3
decades to achieve at the cost of more than 4 thousand dead and
millions of men, women and children who were tortured, dispossessed
or exiled. But a triumph nevertheless!
That was Chile, Ms Rice's first visit. Chile with a GDP per capita of
over 6,000 dollars, with modern infrastructure, elegant cities and
with a majority of citizens now belonging to the middle class. Chile
which stripped Pinochet of his immunity and put former assassins - at
least some of them - behind bars. A country with a well-educated
population that can freely choose between the candidates of numerous
political movements, including those of Humanist and Communist
The next stop of Ms. Rice was Indonesia.
There she discussed a "strategic partnership" in this "tolerant" and
"moderate" country in a troubled region. Indonesia is indeed so
tolerant and moderate that it doesn't allow the Communist Party, any
religion except five basic ones, atheism and agnosticism,
homosexuality and cohabitation of unmarried men and women. It is so
moderate that young Christian girls are being decapitated in broad
daylight and human rights activists poisoned on board by airline
pilots, while bombs go off in crowded markets, at tourist beaches and
in front of foreign embassies. White-robed religious fanatics are
marching through the streets of major cities, attacking bars and
places of bad repute, as well as churches.
But Ms Rice didn't come here to argue tolerance, moderation and
democracy. This is what Steven R. Weisman of The New York Times
about her visit: "Referring to Indonesia, both Rice and the
Indonesian foreign minister, Noer Hassan Wirajuda, used the phrase
"strategic partnership." This reflects American interest in building
up this country as a major commercial and military power in the
region, in part to help counter the growing influence of China."
And above all, Ms. Rice came to increase military cooperation after
the decision last year to resume military aid to Indonesian armed
forces, accused for decades of gross human rights violations.
The Indonesian military is in a league of its own. It is thoroughly
unprofessional, overstaffed, badly armed, untrained and corrupt. Its
top brass are driving luxury sedans and SUVs on maximum salaries of 200
dollars per month. Soldiers as well as high ranking officers are
moonlighting as bouncers and guards for nightclubs and local as well as
foreign companies (Freeport confessed it has paid millions of dollars
in exchange for protection in Papua).
It is no secret that the armed forces couldn't defend Indonesia
against any foreign adversary, but its huge barracks are spread all
over the archipelago, in all cities, towns and in many villages,
intimidating the civilian population. While laughable as a defense
force, there is no military on earth that could "pride" itself on
massacring as many unarmed civilians inside its own country as the
The grand total killed by this maniacal "defense force" is unknown,
but it consists of 1 to 3 million men and women during the 1965 coup,
hundreds of thousands in Papua (although the official count is "over"
100 thousand), more than 200 thousand in formerly occupied East Timor
(one third of the population), tens of thousands in Sulawesi, and
still unknown numbers in Aceh.
So far, no high ranking official has been put on trial. 16 out of 18
government and army officials involved in the East Timor massacres
were acquitted. Those responsible for massacres in all the above
mentioned places are enjoying impunity; some are bragging openly
about their deeds. While Chile elected a victim of torture as its
President, Indonesia elected a former General who is, on top of that,
married to a daughter of one of the army officials responsible for
the 1965 massacres.
"The military is an important institution in Indonesia. It's by no
means completely made its reform, but we believe those reforms are
underway and that we can have a more positive effect on the reforms
by being part of itÂ
" That's what Condoleezza Rice said. What she
forgot to clarify is "what reforms, exactly?" But that's not
surprising, given that her administration is well used to mixing up
expressions like "war" and "peace," "attack" and "defense,"
"democracy" and "terror."
The Indonesian government and top ranking military officers in
Indonesia must be now laughing their eyes out. They are getting
rewarded for doing absolutely nothing, for their terrible performance
in Aceh (where the military was stealing food from aid agencies and
re-selling it on the black market), for their campaign of terror in
Papua and Sulawesi.
But then, Indonesia is historically a country of deceit, and as long
as it continues on a firm course to maintain its savage capitalism
(to hell with the majority of the people who live on less than a
dollar a day: a fact that is never admitted anyway), it can count on
almost unlimited support from the west, which is hooked on its
natural resources and its grossly underpaid and intimidated labor
Michelle Bachelet didn't remember only her murdered father. She also
paid tribute to "our armed forces, which are again the armed forces
of all Chileans."
While Chileans knew about Indonesia long before their own progressive
government came under attack, Indonesians seem to know close to
nothing about the recent developments in South America. No wonder:
the local media is owned by those who are guarding a terrible status
quo. But the old phrase used to intimidate Chilean leftists should
probably be reinvented, reversed and used on the desperate streets of
Jakarta: "Santiago is coming!"
ANDRE VLTCHEK is a novelist, journalist and filmmaker, working in Asia
the South Pacific. He is a co-founder of Mainstay Press, a progressive
publishing house for political fiction (www.mainstaypress.org). He can be
reached at: andre-wcn at usa.net
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"A war of aggression is the supreme international crime." -- Robert Jackson,
former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor
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