Blood on their hands: end military ties


John Howard and Alexander Downer would have us believe that the Australian government has a deep concern for human rights in Indonesia and East Timor. In reality, the Liberal government and the previous Labor government have a record of supporting the Suharto dictatorship.

Australia has a long record of training the Indonesian armed forces. In 1965 when Suharto came to power in a ruthless coup which led to the slaughter of more than a million people, one of his commanding officers, Sarwo Edhie, was a graduate of an Australian army training course.

Since that time, Australia has maintained a military program with Indonesia which includes supplying equipment, training officers, supplying aircraft and parts to their air force and conducting regular naval, air and land exercises.

In 1991 Australia's support to the Indonesian military increased after the US cancelled its training programs in protest at the slaughter of 200 East Timorese at Santa Cruz cemetery — known as the Dili massacre. The Labor defence minister at the time, Robert Ray, boasted that Australia would be happy to supply what the US would not.

Since 1994, the Indonesian elite force Kopassus has held annual exercises with the Australian Special Air Services (SAS). In 1995 the ALP government signed a 10-year defence treaty with Indonesia. In 1995 arms exports to Indonesia reached $10 million. During the demonstrations that overthrew Suharto in mid-May 1998, the Liberal government conducted naval exercises off Surabaya.

Indonesian troops not only brutally police the Indonesian people but also occupy East Timor, West Papua and Aceh. Australian military training has directly assisted the Indonesian regime's ferocious repression.

Resistance demands and end to all military ties with the Indonesian regime.