Subject: Allan Nairn: Arrest Me And Prove Me Wrong  

Update: Nairn reports that the Jakarta Post sat on the interview for 10 days. And that there are transcription errors in the last two sentences. They should read: " If the TNI can do that, then maybe the Kopassus aid will go forward. If not, if the open trial decides the TNI is lying, that might kill the Kopassus aid."

The Jakarta Post

Monday, April 12, 2010

Arrest Me And Prove Me Wrong

Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post

The recent report by American journalist Allan Nairn of the 2009 killings of civilians in Aceh by the Indonesian Military (TNI) has triggered controversy and heated debate. Critics say Nairnís report is full of holes, while others are calling on law enforcement officials to start up an investigation. The Jakarta Postís Bagus BT Saragih recently spoke to the 54-year-old journalist, who was once imprisoned while reporting in East Timor. Here are the excerpts:

Question: Why did you seek to report on the Aceh murders?

Answer: To document the political assassination, in particular of Aceh Party members. Are you asking if I have an agenda? Yes. My agenda is to stop the killings of civilians. To have the law enforced even- handedly. Anyone who commits the murder, even if they are soldiers, generals, presidents, should be tried like anyone else.

With civilian murders by the armed forces taking place all over the world, why report on Indonesia?

I do this kind of reporting in many countries. But my main target has always been the US government, because Iím an American citizen. From the 1980s until 1990s, I went to Guatemala, investigating murders by the army.

I then went to El Salvador, Haiti, Palestine and many other countries.

I have documented US-supported army and intelligent forces that killed and tortured civilians. And I try to stop it.

Is the Indonesian government just as complicit as the US government?

Both. Iím targeting both those who pulled the trigger and those who supplied the guns. But I would have to say that my biggest focus is on the US.

Many people question the veracity of your report, first because most of your sources are anonymous, and second because the facts were only gleaned from interviews. How do you respond?

Interviews are one form of evidence. People should read the article on my blog, The report is extremely specific. I give details that are easily verifiable.

For example, I described how 10 of the suspects in the murder of Tumijan, an Aceh Party activist from Nagan Raya, were detained. And I named the suspects. I spoke to Aceh Police chief Insp. Gen. Aditya Warman, and he confirmed it on the record. It was also confirmed by Maj. Gen. Sunarko (the Iskandar Muda Military Command chief). He said he knew and acknowledged that some of his men were detained over the killing.

Do you have proof that these murders were authorized by Jakarta?

A senior official who first described the assassination program stated this was operated from Jakarta and authorized by higher-ups in Jakarta. This person established his credibility by being the first one to provide me with the names of those detained for the killing of Tumijan.

Critics say that because you refuse to reveal your source, you may have made it all up.

Well, I have two answers for that. One, if Iím making it up, the TNI should follow through on their own announcement to arrest me and try me publicly for libel. If they believe their denial, if they believe Iím lying, go ahead. In fact, they had a chance to arrest me last week when I made a TV appearance.

Two, why donít they check and see if Iím also making up the names of those 10 people who were secretly detained for killing Tumijan? Was Gen. Aditya also making up the facts of those people? Was Gen. Sunarko also making them up?

The bottom line is, if you believe what youíre saying, try me publicly. I will stand before the judges and announce the details. Donít take the cowardly way out by arresting me privately or simply deporting me. That would be a tacit admission that Iím right. And I think they already did that, since the TNI was apparently afraid to face me, not only in court but also on TV, at least so far. If theyíre so confident about my facts being wrong, they should welcome the opportunity to appear on TV. Itís only logical.

If tried in a court, would you reveal your sources?

No. Thatís a very solemn promise to a source when they ask to remain anonymous. Under no circumstances will I ever reveal that. Some of these higher-level officials expressed fear for their personal safety.

Why were your sources willing to divulge their information to you?

One official, this was many months ago, disagreed with this assassination program.

Did they say why these Aceh Party members were killed?

Good question. It wasnít their actions as individuals that made them targets. The intent was to pressure them, prevent them from speaking for their independence. It was a two-track strategy by the TNI. The TNI wanted, on the one hand to co-opt them, buy them off, give them a lot of money; and on the other hand, remind them who was in charge, who was the boss: Jakarta was the boss, the TNI was the boss.

If you kill a top-level activist, that creates a scandal. By killing these people, youíre sending them a message. The Aceh Party still wants independence. Many elements in the party, if they see an opportunity, would like to push forward the independence agenda.

Indonesia and the US are currently negotiating lifting the defense cooperation ban. How do you see the future of these negotiations?

I think that depends on a number of things. One of them is whether the TNI can prove that Iím incorrect. If the TNI can do that, then maybe the Kopassus will go forward. If not, if the open trial decides the TNI is lying, that might kill the Kopassus.

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