SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2014"Do I have the guts,"
Prabowo asked, "am I ready to be called
a fascist dictator?"
July 9 the world's fourth most populous
country, Indonesia, will hold an
election that could result in
General Prabowo Subianto becoming
General Prabowo, the brother of a
billionaire, was the son-in-law of the
dictator Suharto, and as a US trainee
and protégé was implicated in torture,
kidnap and mass murder.
In June and July, 2001 I had two long
meetings with Prabowo.
We met at his corporate office in Mega
I offered Prabowo anonymity.
I was looking into recent murders
apparently involving the Indonesian
army, and was hoping that if he could
speak off-the-record General Prabowo
might divulge details.
I came away disappointed. Prabowo shed
little light those killings.
But we ended up speaking for nearly four
My impression then was that his comments
Democracy Now!: Journalist Allan
Nairn Threatened for Exposing
Indonesian Pres. Candidate’s
Role in Mass Killing (June 27,
Prabowo talked about fascism, democracy,
army massacre policy, and his long,
close relationship with the Pentagon and
But at that time he was out of power and
in political isolation. Other generals
were the threat.
But now Prabowo is on the verge of
assuming state power. And looking back
at my notes I realize that some of what
he said has now become relevant.
I have contacted General Prabowo asking
permission to discuss his comments
publicly, but not having heard back from
him have decided to go ahead anyway.
I think the harm of breaking my
anonymity promise to the General is
outweighed by what would be the greater
harm of Indonesians going to the polls
having been denied access to facts they
might find pertinent.
Prabowo and I had a revealing discussion
This was an Indonesian armed forces
slaughter of at least 271 civilians.
It was done on November 12, 1991 in
Dili, occupied East Timor, outside a
cemetery where a crowd of men, women and
children had gathered.
I happened to have been present at that
massacre and managed to survive it.
Prabowo told me that the army order to
do those killings had been "imbecilic."
(He said he thought the order came from
Gen. Benny Murdani, but said he wasn't
Prabowo's complaint was not with the
fact that the army had murdered
civilians, but rather that they had done
so in front of me and other witnesses
who were then able to report the
massacre and mobilize the outside world.
Indonesia needs, Prabowo said, "a
benign authoritarian regime." He
said the many ethnicities and
religions precluded democracy.!"
"Santa Cruz killed us politically!,"
Prabowo exclaimed. "It was the defeat!"
"You don't massacre civilians in front
of the world press," General Prabowo
said. "Maybe commanders do it in
villages where no one will ever know,
but not in the provincial capital!"
The remark was telling as an
acknowledgement that the army routinely
massacres, and in establishing that
Prabowo finds this acceptable if the
killings are done in places where "no
one will ever know."
In September, 1983, there was just such
a series of massacres around the
little-seen village of Kraras on the
mountain of Bibileo, East Timor.
The official UN-chartered Commission for
Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in
East Timor, the CAVR,
later reported regarding the Kraras
"421. The Commission received evidence
that Prabowo was stationed in the
eastern sector of Timor-Leste at this
time. Several sources have told the
Commission that he was involved in the
operation to bring the civilian
population down from Mount Bibileo,
shortly after which several hundred were
killed by ABRI [the Indonesian Armed
Forces]. The Commission also received
evidence of Kopassus being involved in
these killings. (See
Chapter 7.2: Unlawful Killings and
As Suharto pulled Prabowo up through the
ranks, his commands were implicated in
other mass murders, including one in
West Papua where Prabowo's men
masqueraded as the International Red
Cross (ICRC), and the now well-known
covert operation in Jakarta where they
disappeared pro-democracy activists.
The fact that Prabowo and I had agreed
to sit down was in itself a bit unusual.
I had called for Prabowo to be tried and
jailed along with his US sponsors, and
had helped lead a successful grassroots
campaign to sever US aid to the
Indonesian armed forces. I had been
banned from Indonesia as "a threat to
national security," and General
Prabowo's men had tortured friends of
But, for my part, I had made the cold
calculation that if it helped solve the
recent murders sitting down with Prabowo
would be worth it.
For Prabowo's part, I do no know, but I
did get the impression that he enjoyed
the chance to talk shop and compare
notes with an adversary.
At that time, two years after Suharto's
fall, Indonesia had a civilian
He was the blind cleric, Abdurrachman
Wahid, popularly known as Gus Dur.
The Indonesian armed forces had
undermined Gus Dur's presidential
authority. They had done so in part by
facilitating ethnic/ religious terror
attacks in the Malukus. Three weeks
after my second meeting with Prabowo,
Gus Dur was impeached and ousted.
Today, Gus Dur is often remembered
fondly. The current Prabowo campaign
uses footage of him.
But that day, to me, Prabowo ranted
about Gus Dur and democracy.
To me, Prabowo ranted about Gus
Dur and democracy. "Indonesia is not
ready for democracy," Prabowo said.
"We still have cannibals, there are
"Indonesia is not ready for democracy,"
Prabowo said. "We still have cannibals,
there are violent mobs."
Indonesia needs, Prabowo said, "a benign
authoritarian regime." He said the many
ethnicities and religions precluded
Prabowo said, regarding Gus Dur:
"The military even obeys a blind
president! Imagine! Look at him, he's
"Look at Tony Blair, Bush, Putin.
Young, ganteng [handsome] -- and we have
a blind man!"
Prabowo called for a different model.
He mentioned Pakistan's General Pervez
Musharraf had arrested his country's
civilian prime minister and imposed
dictatorship. Prabowo said he admired
Prabowo ruminated on whether he could
measure up, whether he could be an
"Do I have the guts," Prabowo asked, "am
I ready to be called a fascist
"Musharraf had the guts, " Prabowo said.
As to himself, he left that question
----- End of Part 1.
Prabowo, Part 3: The NSA, Militia
Terror, Aceh, Servants, and "Slaves"
Indonesian Special Forces, Intelligence,
in Covert Operation to Influence
Election; Bahasa Indonesia:
Operasi Rahasia Kopassus dan BIN Untuk
Mempengaruhi Hasil Pemilu
Prabowo, Part 2: "I was the Americans'
The Nationalist General and the United
States by Allan NairnPrabowo, Bagian 2: “Saya anak kesayangan
Sang Jenderal Nasionalis dan Amerika
1: "Do I have the guts,"
Prabowo asked, "am I ready to be called
a fascist dictator?"Bahasa Indonesia:
"Apa saya cukup punya nyali," tanya
Prabowo, "apa saya siap jika disebut
Human Rights, Accountability and Justice