Monday, March 22, 2010
Return of the Phoenix Program: Indonesia
This is an excerpt from an excellent article by Allen Nairn, and I encourage anyone interested in this subject to read it in its entirety. From Palestine to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Indonesia, US supported death squads go about their business.
According to senior Indonesian officials and police and details from government files, the US-backed Indonesian armed forces (TNI), now due for fresh American aid, assassinated a series of civilian activists during 2009.
The killings were part of a secret government program, authorized from Jakarta, and were coordinated in part by an active-duty, US-trained Kopassus special forces General who has just acknowledged on the record that his TNI men had a role in the killings.
The news comes as US President Barack Obama is reportedly due to announce that he is reversing longstanding US policy – imposed by Congress in response to grassroots pressure – of restricting categories of US assistance to TNI, a force which, during its years of US training, has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.
The revelation could prove problematic for Obama since his rationale for restoring the aid has been the claim that TNI no longer murders civilians. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that the the issue is whether there is a "resumption" of atrocities, but, in fact, they have not stopped: TNI still practices political murder.
A senior Indonesian official who meets frequently with top commanders and with the President of Indonesia says that the assassinations were authorized by "higher ups in Jakarta." He provided detailed accounts of certain aspects of the program, including the names of victims, the methods, and the names of some perpetrators.
The senior official spoke because he said he disagreed with the assassinations. He declined to be quoted by name out of fear for his position and personal safety.
Verified details that are known so far concern a series of assassinations and bombings in Aceh -- on Indonesia's western tip -- where local elections were being contested by the historically pro-independence Partai Aceh (PA), a descendant of the old pro-independence GAM (Free Aceh) rebel movement.
At least eight PA activists were assassinated in the run-up to the April elections. The killings were, according to the officials with knowledge of the program an attempt to disorient PA supporters and pressure the party to not discuss independence -- an act regarded as proscribed speech, not just in Aceh but across Indonesia under edicts from the country's president, Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.