Subject: Indon General's 'Songs for Timorese' Branded a Sick Stunt

The Guardian [UK] Tuesday October 24, 2000

General's 'Songs for Timorese' branded a sick stunt

John Aglionby in Jakarta

Crooning slushy, sentimental ballads in a style that would make Eurovision song contest entrants cringe does not feature often in the political repertoire of Indonesia's former military chief and strongman, retired General Wiranto.

But the disgraced officer, dismissed after being held responsible for much of last year's violence in East Timor, has released his debut album with the proceeds purportedly being used to aid tens of thousands of the victims of his policies and actions. More than 120,000 of these are East Timorese who are living in squalid conditions in West Timor.

On Sunday, in front of 200 people , who each paid £70 for the pleasure, Gen Wiranto, 53, launched his CD, For You My Indonesia, with a concert of his hits. The self-confessed karaoke addict, who belted out Feelings at a veterans' gathering last year as his troops were massacring innocent East Timorese, warbled through several numbers.

During a break for dinner he told the audience that 7,300 copies of the CD had already been sold, raising some 500m rupiah (£40,000) for the refugees. A further 351m rupiah was raised through an auction of golden discs.

Gen Wiranto earlier denied any political motivation behind his new career. "I'm doing this because I can," he said. "Don't say that this is anything to do with politics. It's not."

Human rights activists are horrified by his charm offensive. "This is a sick and tasteless attempt to rehabilitate his reputation," said Munir, a leading human rights lawyer who believes that Gen Wiranto's antics are part of a long road back to acceptability and then political power.

Gen Wiranto was sacked in February as President Abdurrahman Wahid took increasing flak over the atrocities in East Timor. He has denied that he was responsible for the violence in East Timor.

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