Wednesday, January 05, 2005

ACEH, INDONESIA - The horror began long before the tsunami

In the Washington Post today, Ellen Nakashima reports that "Indonesian separatist rebels" charge that the Indonesian military “launched at least three attacks on them since the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami, and that at least two rebels had been killed as they attempted to assist people affected by the calamity.” It’s about time for the mainstream press to pick up this story, first reported by Amy Goodman and Allen Nairn on Democracy Now! on Monday

For the past 18 months, Aceh has been under martial law, and all media have been banned. People who have been there, like Nairn, report a situation much like El Salvador in the 1980s – death squads, torture, fear and terror. The record of the Indonesian military, known as the TNI, is abysmal – remember East Timor? And the millions of communists and leftists murdered after the 1965 military coup, which was supported by the CIA?

Despite these horrors, the Bush administration has been trying (unsuccessfully) to lift congressional bans on US-Indonesian military cooperation. Now, military hardliners are trying to use the tsunami disaster as an excuse to do away with this ban once again. On Monday, Dana Dillon, a fellow with the Heritage Foundation, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the disaster “affords the opportunity for the TNI to demonstrate that democratic reform has transformed it from a state-sponsored mafia into a professional military dedicated to the security of Indonesia.” Fat chance. But be on the lookout for a major change in policy, all under the guise of humanitarianism.

For more information, check these links:

Tapol, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign

East Timor Action Network