This is an input broadcasted Apr 18, 1999, on 
Indonesia-Act <> and 
Reg.East-Timor <> lists.
In response to:

Date: 17 Apr 1995 19:47:43 -1000
From: (TAPOL)
Subject: East Timor: ABRI must stop the Paramilitary Units
"The Indonesian Government and Armed Forces (ABRI) are failing to protect East Timorese pro-independence supporters despite warnings of attacks by paramilitaries in East Timor, this weekend", Amnesty International said.

The shocking massacres in East Timor, for which sufficient evidence has become extant to even force the government in Jakarta to acknowledging, has several lesser and more profound implications, all of which lead to the same conclusion: more than East Timor is at stake; it is actually all of Indonesia as well.

The more pragmatically disposed responsible political leadership of the international community should as soon as possible abandon the illusion of dealing with only some dispensible small rock with at most 800,000 inhabitants. They are dealing with a nation of 200 million, and a collapse will send shockwaves rocking the whole world. One will not get away with just a temporary flinching and gritting the teeth till it's over and done!

Sixty years ago, Neville Chamberlain was quick to learn that giving away Czechoslovakia had failed to appease Adolph Hitler. With ex-Yugoslavia it has taken many years (first Slovenia, then Croatia, then Bosnia) for the leaders to now learn the hard way, that appeasement has actually made Milosevic to what he is now: absolutely convinced that the most effective way to stand up to the West is to stubbornly refuse all offers of peaceful political compromise.

In East Timor, the international community is teaching the Indonesian armed forces the same lesson it has persistently taught Milosevic these last years. As long as they persistently dish out even half plausible cover-ups and formal denials, they may count on getting away with just anything.

However, by allowing the armed forces -- or, if one so wills, some "rogue elements" -- to foil the planned referendum or at least to force a designed outcome by terror in East Timor, one is opening the way for these very same to decide whether or not they will allow the Indonesian general elections to result in a democratic choice.

Indonesia, for well over a year now in a deep economic crisis, has for months been wavering at the brink of political chaos, and success of democratic elections in June is seen by all as the one and only way leading to a solution of both political and economic crises. Toleration of the massacres in East Timor is directly conditioning the armed forces (or, respectively, those "rogue elements") to manipulate the results of the elections in the same way as they are trying to decide the East Timor referendum. Only, once one has to deal with a population of 200 million, it will be too late to come to the rescue.

One has been tolerant too long, and now one will not anymore be able to get away with hollow threats. The Indonesian armed forces have to be shown their limits now. One must now bring up the backbone to confront it with the shock-treatment of an international UN peace force in East Timor. East Timor is officially not part of Indonesia but a territory of Portugal. There are no legal restrictions against stationing UN forces there with agreement of Portugal. Several states have declared being prepared to provide military units for that purpose (Portugal, Brasil, Ireland), and more may be expected to follow. It is highly probable that such a move would even be greeted by some ASEAN allies of Indonesia.

What one still needs is the will to decide and act swiftly, for the sake of East Timor, and particularly FOR THE SAKE OF INDONESIA, and Southeast Asia in general. Ex-Yugoslavia is quite negligible, compared with what is at stake for the international community here!


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