|Subject: Knowing Where the Bodies Are
Buried. The Indonesian Generals -- and Putin -- Laugh, Allan Nairn
Monday, December 03, 2007
Knowing Where the Bodies Are Buried. The Indonesian Generals -- and Putin -- Laugh.
The phrase "knowing where the bodies are buried" has different meanings in Timor and Washington.
In Washington, it means knowing some incriminating gossip about somebody, whereas in Timor-Leste the meaning of that phrase is unfortunately literal.
The November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz, Dili massacre was a turning point in Timorese history. The fact that it got outside attention opened the door for an independence that has been rough for Timor (due to ridiculous squabbling among its' politicians), but that has ended the daily terror and massacre that was the Indonesian occupation.
But one thing that Timor independence didn't do was produce a regime confident or responsive enough to stand for justice and insist that Indonesian officers be put on trial for their crimes.
(Of course, a Timorese insistence would not suffice, since the Indonesian generals are still in power and the last thing Washington wants is a Nuremberg for its' trainees [or, for that matter, itself], but it makes some political -- and moral/ morale -- difference when the new Timorese rulers say 'Don't bother.').
Instead of testifying and watching the perpetrators of this Nazi-like slaughter hauled off to lock-up (both the Nazis and the Jakarta generals killed a third of their target populations; in Timor's case, it was 200,000, starting after the 1975 US-backed invasion), the Timorese people have been reduced to politely begging their old murderers to tell them where they dumped the bodies.
This past November 12, some Timorese survivors requested precisely that in a petition submitted via the Indonesian Embassy in Dili to President General Susilo of Indonesia.
The press quoted the group's spokesman as suggesting that "every human being must have a grave," but reported that the petitioners made clear that they weren't seeking to offend Indonesia's government. (see Jose Sarito Amaral, "East Timor marks anniversary of 1991 cemetery killings," Tempo [Jakarta] website, 13 November, 2007, [in English], via BBC Monitoring, Asia Pacific, via Joyo Indonesian News Service).
Its easy to imagine the response to this petition by whatever uniformed man may have perused it: soft laughter and a search for the trash can. 'Will those Timorese never learn?'
The elected leaders of independent Timor have been hugging the Indonesian generals for years (this is not a figure of speech), and instead of being jailed, the perpetrator officers have been promoted, gotten richer, gotten their US aid restored, and make regular appearances as respected figures, including ones on Indonesian TV during which, rather than being exposed, shunned, and humiliated for their unwashable blood-sticky hands, they dance and laugh and josh around with sexy female celebrity singers.
As Vladimir Putin's triumph in Russia says to the ghosts of Anna Politkovskaya and of the Chechens she wrote about, if justice ever gets here, it often doesn't happen in this lifetime.
Maybe that's one reason people turn to God. For they often cannot turn to politics for even such a simple, earthly thing as justice for their family's slaughter.
Bereft, they feel no choice but to pray. Either that, or change the system.
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