INDONESIA TO BREAK UP?

The cruel repression used by the Fascist military regime of Jacarta against the Maubere people of East Timor to desperately try to destroy their independence movement, which legendary leader Xanana Gusmao led to independence in September 1999, can now more easily be understood, if not condoned. In this vast country of 13,600 islands, there are countless “Timor situations”, either happening or waiting to happen, among the 60 ethnic groups. If the case of East Timor was caused by the Portuguese colonisation, creating a different culture over 500 years of occupation, other flashpoints from the easternmost to the westernmost provinces of Indonesia apparently owe their origins to religious or ethnic conflict but the truth may be rather more sinister. With the eternal interference from abroad, Jacarta was given the go-ahead to stamp out dissent ruthlessly by Washington. Kissinger gave the green light to Jakarta to invade East Timor at the time of the Portuguese Revolution in April, 1974, a decision he was later to regret. Twenty-five years of terror was wrought by Indonesia’s military, whose generals were given East Timor as their “playground”. As Portugal took up the cause of the East Timorese and mass demonstrations in Lisbon surrounded the US Embassy and United Nations Missions in Lisbon in September 1999, as the Indonesian militia launched campaigns of terror, killing tens of thousands of East Timorese, who had recently voted for independence, international public opinion was drawn to focus on Indonesia. As the rest of the country falls apart in scenes of chaos, it should be remembered that the Sea of Timor has vast potential as a source of crude oil. Elsewhere, 400 people were slaughtered, hacked to death by machete-wielding savages, in Borneo (Kalimantan Island, central Indonesia). Those killed were mainly Javans, accused by the local Dayak of enjoying privileges and not respecting local culture. To note is the timber industry on this island, a local patrimony which the Dayak may have feared was being taken out of their control. The result was hundreds of decapitated bodies lying decaying in the streets. In the West of Indonesia, Moslem separatists in the Peninsula of Aceh, northern Sumatra fight for independence. Recent conflicts provoked 17 deaths. Again, this province is rich in mineral resources. The Molucca Islands in the Centre-East of Indonesia have seen terrible scenes of violence between Christians and Moslems, causing hundreds of deaths in recent years. Finally, in the East of the country, on the Island of Irian-Jaya, local Papua populations fight against the domination of Jakarta and accuse the Indonesians of stealing local riches. Irian Jaya has one of the world’s largest copper mines. Interference from abroad, economic interests and notions of regional sovereignty over what is seen as invasion from other ethnic groups, inflated by religious banner-raising are yet again the basis of civil strife. In this case, a country with one of the largest populations in the world (210 million) and a vast mineral wealth, is in danger of breaking up. Who or what is behind this, is open to question. Could it be that certain countries have everything to gain with the formation of tens of independent republics, rich in mineral wealth but needing economic support (synonymous in other parts of the world with daylight robbery of natural resources while economies are made dependent and governments are turned into political lackeys)? Should this be the case, can anyone sleep peacefully, since it is in the case of others that we see our own? Who is to be the next victim of this “divide and rule” policy, based on fomenting local independence movements, later financed by local mineral resources, in exchange for a few handfuls of dollars to grease the right palm?

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY, PRAVDA.RU, LISBON