Subject: Indonesia's Men of Shame: The bloody Puppeteers

Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, February 1, 2000 -front page-

Indonesia's men of shame

The bloody puppeteers

PHOTO: Accused of taking no action to stop Timor bloodshed ... General Wiranto, former Indonesian military chief. Photograph by AFP

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

Indonesia's former military chief General Wiranto - named last night at the top of a list of those responsible for last year's atrocities in East Timor - is under extreme pressure to step down from Cabinet.

General Wiranto, who headed the armed forces at the time and is now minister for security and political affairs, was among more than 100 people named as involved in the carnage following the independence ballot.

Indonesia's independent commission found that General Wiranto and five other generals responsible for East Timor at the time should face further investigation.

The head of the inquiry, Mr Albert Hasibuan, said the six were among 40 names it was submitting to the Attorney-General, Mr Marzuki Darusman.

Mr Hasibuan said of General Wiranto: "He knew what happened, but did not take effective measures to handle or prevent the violence."

General Wiranto has denied involvement in the violence that saw hundreds killed and left East Timor in ruins after the territory rejected Indonesian rule in the August 30 ballot.

The other five generals are the former military intelligence chief Zacky Anwar Makarim, the former regional commander Adam Damiri, the former East Timor military commanders Tono Suratman and Nur Muis, and the territory's former police chief, Tumbul Silaen.

As the findings of the commission's three-month investigation were released, senior military officers publicly pledged their loyalty to the President, Mr Wahid.

The army's chief of staff, General Tyasno Sudarto, dismissed fears of a military coup while Mr Wahid is on a two-week overseas tour. "I guarantee there will be no coup. I'm prepared to relinquish my position."

In an apparent reference to business people linked to the regime of the disgraced former president Soeharto, General Sudarto said the military could not be "bought by a financially strong power".

Mr Wahid and his close advisers warned last week that people linked to the Soeharto regime and some military officers wanted to create instability to force the newly elected Government from office.

They fear that the naming of General Wiranto and other officers by the commission will increase tensions in the armed forces, already split between reformists and traditional hardliners who rose through the ranks during Mr Soeharto's 32-year rule.

The armed forces chief, Admiral Widodo, said a statement by Mr Wahid last week that 10 per cent of the army did not support his presidency should serve as a warning for the military to strengthen its unity.

Admiral Widodo, who replaced General Wiranto as military chief in October, called on the public to be patient while waiting for reforms of the armed forces.

The secretary of the commission, Mr Asmara Nababan, said in Jakarta that General Wiranto was "guilty by omission".

"He has been named in the recommendations for future investigation and prosecution because he failed to take actions to prevent the violence in September."

A commission member, Mr H.S. Dillon, said that by "omission" the investigators meant that General Wiranto had had full knowledge of what was going on in East Timor.

Mr Wahid said before leaving for overseas on Friday that he would ask General Wiranto to step down from Cabinet if he was named in the report.

Mr Wahid has already insisted that he retire from the military to observe protocol that ministers cannot also hold positions in the armed forces.


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