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Subject: APCET Statement for August 17
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 1998 14:09:22 +0800
From: Initiatives for International Dialogue <>


We salute the Indonesian people in its commemoration of the 53rd anniversary of their independence from Dutch colonialism. This year’s observance is even more poignant as it comes amid the fall of the dictator Suharto who run roughshod over the entire archipelago in his more than three decades of rule. Not only has Suharto repressed the Indonesian peoples, he too presided over colonizing other nations such as East Timor and bullied his neighbors in the region specially in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

But we remember the valiant struggle of the Indonesians in unshackling themselves from the Dutch. We are inspired by that heroic chapter in this nation’s birthing. They showed the world fifty-three years ago that colonialism was not only of a bygone era, thus it was also very much justified to bring it down. They have showed it again bravely in the ouster of Suharto. That is why we also believe that the Indonesian people do not countenance its government’s own colonial ambitions in the case of East Timor. And in other incipient nations such as West Papua or Aceh.

And even as the new regime in Jakarta has publicly committed to “build a just, open and democratic society”, we accompany those countless victims of the Suharto dictatorship in seeking justice. From the millions who perished in the pogrom during the ouster of Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno, to the thousands who were waylaid in the invasion and occupation of East Timor to the thousands more killed, raped, tortured within Indonesia itself who were either working for a more democratic society or who were just being themselves by virtue of their ethnic roots.

An apology from the incumbent President B.J. Habibie is well and fine. This is not enough. Somehow it rings hollow if it is not accompanied by a resolute pursuit for justice. It is even more dangerous to only blame “individuals from the state apparatus” who committed the crimes for it is the same apparatus which created the conditions for such crimes. The state apparatus was the crime. Saying otherwise is like doing a “Pontius Pilate” and hoping the world will forget and life merrily goes on. The Suharto regime usurped and re-packaged the ideals of the independence movement to suit its vested and fascist tendencies.

Apologies cannot erase the pain, the loss, the blood shed by the victims of Suharto-ism. Apologies cannot ease reconciliation even as it tries to pry open the coffers of the World Bank.

Apologies should be accompanied by determined justice and a political will to even charge the progenitors of the repressive policies of the past and even of the present. From Suharto to Prabowo to hundreds or thousands other generals, soldiers and civil servants who instigated, plotted, perpetrated the dastardly and “barbaric” deeds against the Indonesian and East Timorese peoples.

There is no other way. There is no “Indonesian” or “Asian” way. The only route to real reform, freedom and genuine independence is the path of justice.

Only then can Indonesia’s independence be totally celebrated, be finally redeemed.

Joint Statement Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor and Initiatives for International Dialogue 17 August 1998 Davao City, Philipines

Initiatives for International Dialogue 27-D Galaxy Street GSIS Heights, Davao City 8000 Philippines Telefax: (63)(82) 299-2502 Tel: (63)(82) 299-2574 to 75 Web: or

IID is also maintaining the following sites:

- Mindanao-Palawan Peoples Network on BIMP-EAGA (MPPN): or

- Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET):

Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) <>

Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) <> 27-D Galaxy Street GSIS Heights, Matina Work: 63-82-2992574 Davao City Fax: 6382-2992052 8000 Netscape Conference Address Philippines Netscape Conference DLS Server Additional Information: Last Name First NameInitiatives for International Dialogue (IID) Version 2.1

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