- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Test for Indonesia

A report on Indonesia’s role in the violence that ripped apart tiny East Timor in 1999 will pose a test for the 10-year-old democracy of the world’s most populous Muslim nation, the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia wrote in a weekend newspaper article.

Ambassador Cameron Hume said the Commission of Truth and Friendship, established by the two countries, is expected soon to release its findings on atrocities committed when East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in August 1999.

Indonesian-backed forces in East Timor rebelled against the independence movement until an international coalition led by Australia halted the fighting a month later.

Mr. Hume noted in his article in the Jakarta Post that “no one has been held accountable for the massacres, rapes and other gross human rights violations that took place in East Timor.”

However, he expressed hope that Indonesia’s democratic government will have the “political will” to follow whatever recommendations the commission issues.

“We expect that the report will have credible findings of who was responsible and, in this regard, reflect the political will of both governments to account for that tragic period,” he said.

In 1975, Indonesia, a nation of 245 million people and 734,000 square miles of territory, invaded East Timor, with 1 million people and fewer than 6,000 square miles of land.

At the time, Indonesia was in the eighth year of the brutal military dictatorship of Gen. Suharto, who ruled for another 23 years.

A year after Suharto’s resignation in 1998, Abdurraham Wahid won the presidency in the country’s first fully democratic election in October 1999. However, the legislature accused him of corruption and incompetence and replaced him with his vice president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, in 2001.

Despite political turmoil, terrorist violence and poverty, Indonesia has become “one of the world’s remarkable success stories for freedom and democracy,” Mr. Hume wrote. “Just 10 years ago, Indonesia was crippled by the regional economic crisis. … Brutal security forces and corrupt officials had full impunity from justice.”

Today, the ambassador added, Indonesia is a leader on “the world stage,” and the United States “admires Indonesia’s democratic leadership.”

Twin Oaks toasted

Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington raised a toast to a 120-year-old mansion that has served as a symbol of Taiwan’s “warm and abiding friendship” with the United States and it’s “deep-seated belief in freedom and democracy.”

The 26-room Twin Oaks estate on Woodley Road Northwest served as the official residence of China’s ambassadors to the United States from 1937 to 1978, when President Carter switched U.S. diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China on Taiwan to the communist government in Beijing.

The Taiwanese government managed to prevent the communist Chinese from gaining possession of the mansion by selling it to a private organization, Friends of Free China. Taiwan bought it back after Congress in 1979 passed a law establishing Taiwan’s ownership of the estate.

“On behalf of the people and government of Taiwan, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to those who helped Taiwan preserve this property …, ” said Jaushieh Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s representative here since last April.

Mr. Wu’s guests at last week’s reception included Anna Chennault, the Chinese widow of the legendary World War II aviator Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault, who organized the Flying Tigers, and Ambassador William Brown, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Taipei.

Twin Oaks “stands today as a symbol of our warm and abiding friendship and our deep-seated belief in freedom and democracy,” Mr. Wu said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide