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Suharto - war criminal

By John Passant - posted Tuesday, 29 January 2008

War criminal Suharto is dead. Look for the tears from his Western supporters. In their hypocrisy they may recognise he was a dictator, but, they will rationalise, he was "our" dictator.

The man was a mass murderer. In the years 1965 and 1966 he and his army supporters seized power and killed up to one million Indonesians. In the name of anti-communism they killed Chinese people because they were Chinese. This is genocide.

The West was up to its armpits in the blood. The US supplied the names of Communist Party members to Suharto and his cronies. They knew these people would be murdered. American Embassy officials ticked off their names as the army killed them. What did it matter if a few commies were assassinated?


Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt said that “with 500,000 to a million communist sympathisers knocked off, I think it's safe to assume a reorientation has taken place”.

And how did we describe this genocide? A “cleansing process” said our Embassy in Jakarta.

Ethnic cleansing is a better description.

But the West wanted Suharto in power for its own interests so the mere mass murder of one million people was of no importance to the US or Australia.

And then there is East Timor. During the 23 years of brutal occupation, East Timor’s population fell by a third - about 200,000 dead.

Australia (in particular Gough Whitlam) supported this takeover. It was Malcolm Fraser's Government that gave de jure recognition to the Indonesian regime in East Timor. We even trained Indonesian Army troops, troops which were used in East Timor (and West Papua) to suppress the Indigenous population.


Our Governments have not yet acted on a New South Wales coroner implicating those in high positions in Indonesia in the murder of the Balibo 5. I doubt we will because that would upset the precious relationship with Indonesia’s ruling and corrupt elite, an elite whose present position owes much to Suharto’s dictatorship and mass murder.

In West Papua from 1969 when the UN supported Act of Free Choice (what Orwellian words!) saw Indonesia installed as the new colonial ruler, the Indonesian Army has killed over 100,000 people.

Yet despite all these murders, murders well known to the West, Suharto has received massive support from the US, Britain and Australia in particular.

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About the Author

John Passant is a Canberra writer ( and member of Socialist Alternative.

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