Sunday, June 22, 2014

THIS IS A MUST READ about the former Indonesian General who just might become their next President!

"Do I have the guts," Prabowo asked, "Am I ready to be called a fascist dictator?" Allan Nairn reports

Part I

On July 9 the world's fourth most populous country, Indonesia, will hold an election that could result in General Prabowo Subianto becoming president.

General Prabowo, the brother of a billionaire, was the son-in-law of the dictator Suharto, and as a US trainee and protege 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 Kuningan, Jakarta.

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 hours.

My impression then was that his comments were extraneous.

Prabowo talked about fascism, democracy, army massacre policy, and his long, close relationship with the Pentagon and US intelligence.

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 about the Santa Cruz Massacre.

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 certain).

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.

"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 slaughter:

"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 Enforced Disappearances)."

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 mine.

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 not 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 president.

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.

"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 democracy.

Prabowo said, regarding Gus Dur:

"The military even obeys a blind president! Imagine! Look at him, he's embarrassing!"

"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.

Musharraf had arrested his country's civilian prime minister and imposed dictatorship. Prabowo said he admired him greatly.

Prabowo ruminated on whether he could measure up, whether he could be an Indonesian Musharraf.

"Do I have the guts," Prabowo asked, "am I ready to be called a fascist dictator?"

"Musharraf had the guts, " Prabowo said.

As to himself, he left that question unanswered.


End of Part 1. By Allan Nairn

Coming Up, Part 2: Prabowo: "I was the Americans' fair-haired boy." The Nationalist General and US Intelligence.



    THE abduction of pro-democracy activists in 1998 caused a rift between military officers Fachrul Razi and Syamsu Djalal. Syamsu Djalal, who at the time was commander of the Military Police, holding the rank of major-general, tried to have Prabowo Subianto court-martialed. But Fachrul Razi, who at that time was the Armed Forces (ABRI) chief of general staff with the rank of lieutenant-general, prevented him from doing so.

    "The initial evidence that Prabowo was the brains behind the abductions was very strong," said Syamsu Djalal in an interview last week. Fachrul and Syamsu are presently aligned with the supporters of presidential candidate Joko Widodo.

    At that time, the Military Police under Syamsu set out to investigate the abduction case. Some people were ready to testify, including nine activists who had been abducted by the Special Forces' Rose Team and the Dove team, led by Colonel Chairiawan and Major Bambang Kristiono respectively, who were subordinates of Special Forces Commander, Lt. Gen. Prabowo.

    Because the Military Police came under the coordination of the chief of general staff, the case was first discussed by Fachrul and Syamsu, before being approved by ABRI Commander Gen. Wiranto. Fachrul asked that the case be handled by the Officers Honor Council. Syamsu threw his hands up. "If at some point this decision is questioned, Pak Fachrul will have to take responsibility for it," said Syamsu, recalling what he said back then.

    Fachrul felt that this case could quickly be resolved if it was taken directly to the Council. That is why the investigation only focused on the nine activists who had returned. "If it included the 13 activists who were missing, it would have taken a long time to settle," said Fachrul. Yet, he said, a decision needed to be made quickly in order to restore ABRI's reputation, which had been damaged by the abductions.

    Fachrul also considered Prabowo's position as an in-law of Suharto. Even though he was no longer president when the abduction case was revealed, Suharto was still respected in the Indonesian Military (TNI). "I told the commander of the Military Police: the chief of general staff will take responsibility," said Fachrul, who went on to reach the rank of TNI deputy chief commander.

    The ABRI commander appointed officers with a minimal rank of three-star general to try Prabowo, who at that time was commander of the ABRI Staff and Command School. The Officers Honor Council was led by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Subagyo Hadisiswoyo and his deputy, Fachrul Razi. Its members included Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Lt. Gen. Agum Gumelar, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Kartanegara, Lt. Gen. Arie J. Kumaat and Lt. Gen. Djamari Chaniago.

    During the three days of questioning, said Fachrul, Prabowo was initially evasive about ordering the abductions. Later, after admitting to it, Prabowo claimed to have abducted activists "in the name of national security". Prabowo never once mentioned Suharto as having given the order. "So why is someone who has died now being blamed?" said Fachrul.

    1. Calls Mount to Review Prabowo’s Eligibility

      Rights activists have called for the presidential bid of the Gerindra Party’s Prabowo Subianto to be reviewed following revelations that he oversaw the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists in 1998.

      Prabowo’s involvement in the abductions was confirmed by former Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) commander Gen. (ret.) Wiranto, whose Hanura Party joined the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)-led coalition supporting presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

      Wiranto, who was a member of the ABRI Officers Ethics Council (ABRI DKP) in 1998, on Thursday revealed that Prabowo, who was then Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) chief, ordered the kidnapping based on his own volition.

      Setara Institute chairman Hendardi said that Wiranto’s statements should be used as the impetus to evaluate Prabowo’s candidacy.

      “The General Elections Commission [KPU] has a responsibility to evaluate the eligibility of Prabowo as a candidate,” Hendardi said in a statement.

      Setara also called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to take measures against Prabowo.

      “The onus is on the President to reveal the ABRI DKP document [concerning Prabowo’s dismissal from the military service] and to act upon the House of Representatives’ recommendation to establish a human rights court,” Hendardi said.

      Yudhoyono was among the signatories of the ABRI DKP document, which issued a recommendation that Prabowo be dismissed from the military service for being complicit in the kidnapping, insubordination and disregard for the military code.

      On Friday, Jokowi launched a thinly veiled attack on Prabowo by vowing to resolve the kidnapping case.

      “The case must be resolved until everything is settled. Then, we can go to settlement through political reconciliation,” Jokowi told reporters in Surakarta, Central Java, on Friday.

      Jokowi, however, declined to comment when asked if the settlement would involve Prabowo.

      “The most important point is to clear up everything related to the case. I am optimistic [the case can be resolved] because many of those involved are still alive,” he said.

      Also on Friday, Prabowo’s campaign team held a press conference to respond to Wiranto’s statement.

      A member of Prabowo’s campaign team and Golkar Party senior politician, Marwah Daud Ibrahim, displayed two official letters insisting that Prabowo was not involved in the abductions.

      The two documents were Presidential Decree No. 62/ABRI/1998, which stated that Prabowo was honorably discharged and the second letter, which was written by then state secretary Muladi to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), claiming Prabowo’s innocence.

      “These two letters have the highest authority, while the ABRI DKP document was only a recommendation,” Marwah said.

      In spite of the claim, program director of human rights watchdog Imparsial, Al Araf, urged Komnas HAM to summon Prabowo and a number of retired military officials to gather information regarding the involuntary disappearances.

      “This case is far from over. The whereabouts of 13 activists are still unknown. The President needs to establish an ad hoc court for the kidnapping. Komnas HAM must summon Prabowo and other officials,” he said. The Jakarta Post Yuliasri Perdani and Ina Parlina, Jakarta