Exposing U.S.-backed Indonesian Military Assassinations Leads to Arrest Threats and Censorship for Journalist
(March 24, 2010) – Investigative reporter Allan Nairn recently broke a story of assassinations by the Indonesian military: “According to senior Indonesian officials and police and details from government files, the U.S.-backed Indonesian armed forces, 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, U.S.-trained general in the special forces unit called Kopassus who has just acknowledged on the record that his TNI men had a role in the killings.
“The news comes as President Barack Obama is reportedly due to announce that he is reversing longstanding U.S. policy — imposed by Congress in response to grassroots pressure — of restricting categories of U.S. assistance to TNI, a force that, during its years of U.S. training, has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.” See in The Nation magazine: “Washington’s Indonesian Bully Boys”
Following these revelations, the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday reported that the Indonesian military is considering legal action against Nairn. On Wednesday, Nairn reports he was on METRO TV, an Indonesian news channel, and was censored a few minutes after the interview began.
Obama was scheduled to be in Indonesia this week, but delayed his trip. In a recent interview with RCTI, an Indonesian TV network, Obama remarked that there were human rights abuses “in the past” but that with the “advent of democracy,” the Indonesian military has been “focusing on external security issues.”
Nairn responded this morning: “These assassinations that I’m just reporting happened while Obama was president. While he was presiding over the training of, according to the Indonesian defense ministry, thousands of Indonesian military people. While he was shipping weapons and equipment to the Indonesian military.
“Secondly, when he refers to external security issues that the Indonesian armed forces are focusing on, I would challenge the president to name one. There is absolutely no external security threat to Indonesia. Singapore is not about to invade. Australia is not about to invade. What the Indonesian armed forces are focusing on is what they’ve always focused on: the internal repression of the population. And now it’s most intensive in the eastern part of the country, in Papua, which is under de facto occupation. But also, they were doing these — they’ve been doing these political assassinations in Aceh. So what Obama says is just false.”
Nairn has also questioned the authenticity of Indonesian democracy under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a U.S. military-trained former general. Said Nairn: “The army vetted all the candidates, as did the oligarchs.”