Crime and Punishment

Clinton Fernandes is a Melbourne writer, historian and military man. His 2004 book, Reluctant Saviour, revealed Australian involvement in the 1999 East Timor massacres.

In the wake of the Schapelle Corby guilty verdict today, Fernandes has a few thoughts about Indonesian justice:

“Commit mass murder in East Timor = no punishment.
Import marijuana = 20 years.

Foreign Minister Downer has praised the new Indonesia with “an independent judiciary and a democratic political system and a free press”. Fair enough. But remember that in this new Indonesia, its first civilian defence minister, Juwono Sudarsono, rejected calls to investigate high-ranking war criminals within its military: “We can’t go up into the high ranks as they were just carrying out state policy”*.

Accordingly, no action has been taken against the architects of the ethnic-cleansing campaign in the final days of the occupation of East Timor**:

a. Feisal Tanjung remained active in party politics after he lost ministerial office in October 1999.
b. Mahidin Simbolon, the deputy commander of the military region that included East Timor, was promoted to his own command in West Papua, where pro-democracy activists began to experience another reign of state-sponsored terrorism.
c. Former information minister Yunus Yosfiah remained free of meaningful legal sanction.
d. Zacky Anwar Makarim remains in the Indonesian army, attached to the headquarters without specific assignment.
e. Sjafrie Sjamsuddin, who presided over atrocities against students in 1998 when he was chief of the Jakarta garrison, was appointed official spokesman for the military.
f. Hendropriyono, the former transmigration minister who helped organise the mass deportations, was appointed head of the new National Intelligence Body.”

* “Reluctant Saviour”, p 75.
**”Reluctant Saviour”, p 117.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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