T E BACK PAGE A Simple Idea BY ALLAN NAIRN Editor’s note: Allan Nairn is a U.S. journalist who has covered East Timor for many years. Although banned as a security risk by the Indonesian government, he was in the country covering the current massacres by Indonesian-supported Timorese militias. He was arrested and threatened with prosecution. During his interrogation he wrote a statement of his beliefs, excerpted here. After several days and intense international protest, he was deported. For more on East Timor, see pages 7-11. I know that the army has put me on the black list. They did this because I watched their soldiers murder more than 271 people at the Santa Cruz cemetery [in 1991]. This crime was the responsibility of the Indonesian army commander, General Try Sutrisno and the Minister of Defense, General Benny Murdani. The murders were committed with American M-16 rifles. The American government also bears some of the responsibility because they have armed, trained and given money to the T.N.I./ABRI [the Timorese militias and the Indonesian military], even though they knew the T.N.I./ABRI is led by murderers and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Timorese, Acehnese, West Papuan and Indonesian civilians…. I do not think that I am a threat to the Indonesian or Timorese people, but I hope that I am a threat to General Wiranto and General Tanjung, and the other present and former leaders of the T.N.I./ABRI. I believe that they feel threatened by anyone who would expose their crimes…. Many brave Indonesians, Timorese, Acehnese, and West Papuans have been killed, ar rested, tortured or raped because they dared to criticize the army and demand their right to freedom. As a foreigner and a journalist, particularly an American journalist, I know that I enjoy a certain de facto political leeway that enables me to say .things that local people would be killed for saying. I have tried to use that privilege to tell the truth about T.N.I./ABRI…. During my most recent detention, I have been interrogated by officials [who] have asked me many questions about my political motives and opinions. I would summarize my opinions this way: I am pro human rights, pro democracy, and anti-T.N.I./ABRI. I am a supporter of the people of East Timor, Aceh, West Papua, and Indonesia, and an opponent of the officials who have repressed and exploited them. As an American citizen who is visiting Indonesia and occupied East Timor, I also want to be clear that I believe in evenhandedness. The same political, moral and legal standards that are applied to T.N.I./ABRI officers should also be applied to the officers and political leaders of the United States. So while I support the U.N. Secretary-General’s call for war crimes and crimes against humanity prosecution on East Timor, I think that the prosecution should not be limited to Indonesian officials. Foreign officials who were accomplices to atrocities in East William Seaman both murder A East Timorese children in Dili Timor, and provided weapons and the logistics of repression, should also be charged, prosecuted and if convicted, jailed. Pragmatically, it is hard to imagine General Wiranto sitting in jail. It is even harder to imagine President Clinton as his cellmate. But justice should be impartial. It is time for the genocide to end. Untold thousands of Timorese lie slaughtered. Their families are bereft. The victims of Santa Cruz, Liquica, and Suai can no longer speak. Those of us who can should insist that the killing stop right now. And we should also insist that the killers face justice, regardless of who they are. These same principles apply of course to atrocities everywhere. I think that this is a simple idea and that most people would agree.
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