Secret documents found in the Australian National Archives provide a glimpse of how one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century was executed and covered up. They also help us understand how and for whom the world is run.
The documents refer to East Timor, now known as Timor-Leste, and were written by diplomats in the Australian embassy in Jakarta. The date was November 1976, less than a year after the Indonesian dictator General Suharto seized the then Portuguese colony on the island of Timor.
The terror that followed has few parallels; not even Pol Pot succeeded in killing, proportionally, as many Cambodians as Suharto and his fellow generals killed in East Timor. Out of a population of almost a million, up to a third were extinguished.
This was the second holocaust for which Suharto was responsible. A decade earlier, in 1965, Suharto wrested power in Indonesia in a bloodbath that took more than a million lives. The CIA reported: “In terms of numbers killed, the massacres rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.”
This was greeted in the Western press as “a gleam of light in Asia” (Time).The BBC’s correspondent in South East Asia, Roland Challis, later described the cover-up of the massacres as a triumph of media complicity and silence; the “official line” was that Suharto had “saved” Indonesia from a communist takeover.
“Of course my British sources knew what the American plan was,” he told me. “There were bodies being washed up on the lawns of the British consulate in Surabaya, and British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops, so that they could take part in this terrible holocaust. It was only much later that we learned that the American embassy was supplying [Suharto with] names and ticking them off as they were killed. There was a deal, you see. In establishing the Suharto regime, the involvement of the [US-dominated] International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were part of it. That was the deal.”
I have interviewed many of the survivors of 1965, including the acclaimed Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who bore witness to an epic of suffering “forgotten” in the West because Suharto was “our man”. A second holocaust in resource-rich East Timor, an undefended colony, was almost inevitable.
In 1994, I filmed clandestinely in occupied East Timor; I found a land of crosses and unforgettable grief. In my film, Death of a Nation, there is a sequence shot on board an Australian aircraft flying over the Timor Sea. A party is in progress. Two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. “This is a uniquely historical moment,” babbles one of them, “that is truly, uniquely historical.”
The Empire has developed a complex system of slapping faces and humiliating all those who defy its dictate. It has also become increasingly generous when rewarding its allies and lackeys.
Of course no medals are distributed. But much better goodies are offered. The Empire uses all sorts of propaganda tricks, even “employing” some international organizations, like the United Nations, to reward its best pawns.
Very often then, what is obviously black is redefined and propagated as white. Something dreadful is hailed as a great indisputable achievement. And some totally collapsed, failed country or city is suddenly singled out and showered with praises and rewards.
This is exactly what took place in 2015, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) put the Indonesian city of Bandung on its newly created list of “World Creative Cities”.
There is absolutely nothing creative about Bandung. Its 2.5 million inhabitants, like the inhabitants of all other Indonesian cities, are condemned to only three “social and cultural activities”: eating, family gatherings and praying.
Not one permanent concert hall now brightens the life of this former Dutch hill station turned into some sort of “city of learning”. There are no art cinemas and not one decent museum (save one that, had it been located in the People’s Republic of China, could serve no more than a city of 50,000 inhabitants).
There are a few parks in Bandung, but they are tiny, dirty and disconnected. There are several malls and commercial cinemas showing the lowest level pop Hollywood junk.
The rest is, as elsewhere in Indonesia, an over-commercialized and desperate urban sprawl with no planning.
Of course there are hundreds of “boutiques”, or more precisely, of makeshift, badly put together shops selling fake goods to both locals and foreigners. These fakes are so openly ‘forgeries’ that the sellers are even rating them; depending on how closely they resemble the originals. To be precise, there are 5 levels of “forgeries”.
One wonders whether these mountains of counterfeit garments and apparels are what UNESCO actually considers to be an expression of “creativity”, as in Bandung there seems to be very little else.
Certainly, the inspectors and investigators of the World Trade Organization (WTO) would raid the city, were it on the territory of a Western foe, like China or Vietnam,
But since the 1965 massacres orchestrated by the West, during which between 2 and 3 million local Communists and intellectuals were slaughtered, Indonesia is firmly considered a friend and a trusted ally.
Bandung has seen its share of massacres. Could those slaughters be considered “creative”, could they still be hailed and commemorated by the “international community”, after all those years? Am I being too cynical, or is it the UN that is cynical?
Bandung has no public transportation to speak of. Imagine a city the size of Amsterdam and Brussels combined, or like Nagoya, choking on its fumes, over flooded by stinking scooters, a city without subways, without a heavy-duty train network, without trams, without underpasses.
But it gets much worse: there are no large libraries, no art projects except for one or two decent galleries located on the outskirts of the city.
When my Chinese-Indonesian friend (a concert pianist and a graduate of the renowned Manhattan School of Music) was forced to return from New York to Bandung by her conservative Christian family, she tried to resist the deep gloom by working and trying to enlighten her city. She bought a keyboard (no tuners were found for concert pianos) and she practiced day and night. And she played concerts, at least once a year. These concerts were of the highest world caliber. But she did not last long. Her art went totally unappreciated. The last blow came during her appearance at the French Cultural Institute, where she was attempting to play Chopin. The dirty and small hall was rat-infested, but it was the only option available with a concert piano. During the concert, the public would get up and come up to her. People were sticking their mobile phones and cameras straight into her face, with the flashes blinding her. After this, she sold everything and began losing her hair. That was it for her, life as a musician in Bandung, “a creative city”.
There are several bizarre institutions in Bandung, like an extremely popular Nazi bar, called “Soldaten Kaffee”. It is full of Swastikas and portraits of Adolf Hitler. Is this really what UNESCO means by “creativity”?
There is also an outdoor amphitheater, which periodically performs Angklung, a traditional form of Indonesian music, an art form based mainly on bamboo pipes, which has made it on to the list of intangible world heritage. The problem is that the place has cannibalized, literally perverted its own heritage, as the orchestra mainly performs Western pop music using traditional instruments. You can hear plenty of Delilah and I did it my way, and very little of the great original West Javanese music. UNESCO should complain and threaten, but it doesn’t.
Yes, a city of 2.5 million, almost entirely stripped of creativity, is now declared a “World Creative City”.
Life without great music, without theatre, daring architectural concepts, parks, public places; it is all the result of 50 years of horrendous turbo-capitalism and anti-intellectualism injected there by the West and implemented by the treasonous cadre – General Suharto – and his cohorts. This is exactly how things are supposed to function in the Empire’s colonies. Brainless television shows, pop music, crappy films, urban fragmentation, collapsed infrastructure, all sorts of religious and oppressive family structures. No variations, no escape. This is where Indonesia has ended up.
So let’s celebrate the great “creativity” of the city, which has redefined boredom and tastelessness!
Right near the city center, there is a huge statue of Rambo holding a shoulder missile launcher. There are Hitler’s posters sold by the road. There is a poor tiny blindfolded little monkey forced to dance to a Sudanese tune, right next to the highway entrance into the city center. And there are child beggars and vendors and deformed people, all calling for our attention.
I would like to see UNESCO’s criteria for this inscription. I would like to meet the person who worked on putting Bandung on the list; a person no doubt so thoroughly obsessed with promoting a fascist state and concept implanted by the Empire. “Shame on you!” I would say to him or her.
There is one place in Bandung that UNESCO should be interested in, but isn’t. It is perhaps one of the most important structures in Asia, and it is called the Museum Of Asia Africa Conference in Bandung. This is where the great 1955 conference of the non-aligned movement was held, bringing together nations that were resisting imperialism.
But it is not even inscribed as a world heritage site.
This magnificent tropical art deco building is where the roots of Bandung and Indonesia’s collapse really lie. This is where the great Indonesian leader, President Ahmed Sukarno spoke against colonialism. And after that, the West decided: it is time to destroy the country and its government!
“Bandung world creative city”, is nothing other than a stamp of approval UNESCO has given to the terror that Indonesia has been suffering by the United States, Europe and its own whoring elites.
And how paradoxical and cynical this stamp really is! UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. During and after the 1965 coup, education, culture and science were thoroughly destroyed in Indonesia. Today, this fourth most populous nation on earth does not have one single writer, thinker or scientist of international caliber.
Last year, I stopped travelling to Indonesia. I simply did… I just could not bear being there, anymore. It was making me unwell. I felt psychologically and physically sick.
Indonesia has matured into perhaps the most corrupt country on Earth, and possibly into the most indoctrinated and compassionless place anywhere under the sun. Here, even the victims were not aware of their own conditions anymore. The victims felt shame, while the mass murderers were proudly bragging about all those horrendous killings and rapes they had committed. Genocidal cadres are all over the government.
Don’t get me wrong: there is really nothing wrong with maturity. But instead of maturing elegantly into something noble, like a precious wine, Indonesia just decayed into disgusting vinegar, or spoiled milk, or most likely into something much, much more sinister – a monstrous decomposing carcass in the middle of a once socialist, progressive and anti-imperialist Asia.
After the 1965 coup backed by the US, Australia and Europe, some 2-3 million Indonesians died, in fact were slaughtered mercilessly in an unbridled orgy of terror: teachers, intellectuals, artists, unionists, and Communists vanished. The US Embassy in Jakarta provided a detailed list of those who were supposed to be liquidated. The army, which was generously paid by the West and backed by the countless brainwashed religious cadres of all faiths, showed unprecedented zeal, killing and imprisoning almost everyone capable of thinking. Books were burned and film studios and theatres closed down.
Women from the left-wing organizations, after being savagely raped, had their breasts amputated. They were labeled as witches, atheists, sexual maniacs and perverts.
Professional militant Christian cadres from Holland and other Western countries landed in Indonesia well before the coup. They were entrusted with the radicalization of Muslims, Hindus, Protestants, Catholics and the Indonesian military. They labeled Communists and other leftists as “dangerous atheists” and began an indoctrination and training campaign aimed to liquidate them.
Southeast Asian elites “forgot” about those tens of millions of Asian people murdered by the Western imperialism at the end of and after the WWII. They “forgot” about what took place in the North – about the Tokyo and Osaka firebombing, about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, about the barbaric liquidation of Korean civilians by the US forces. But they also forgot about their own victims – about those hundreds of thousands, in fact about the millions, of those who were blown to pieces, burned by chemicals or directly liquidated – men, women and children of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.
All is forgiven and all is forgotten.
And once again the Empire is proudly “pivoting” into Asia; it is even bragging about it.
It goes without saying that the Empire has no shame and no decency left. It boasts about democracy and freedom, while it does not even bother to wash the blood of tens of millions off its hands.
All over Asia, the “privileged populaces” has chosen to not know, to not remember, or even to erase all terrible chapters of the history. Those who insist on remembering are being silenced, ridiculed, or made out to be irrelevant.
Such selective amnesia, such “generosity” will very soon backfire. Shortly, it will fly back like a boomerang. History repeats itself. It always does, the history of the Western terror and colonialism, especially. But the price will not be covered by the morally corrupt elites, by those lackeys of the Western imperialism. As always, it will be Asia’s poor who will be forced to pay.
Just a few days have passed since your inauguration, Mr. President, and the people; at least a great number of the people in your country, are now expecting, even demanding a change, an immediate metamorphosis of the nation. They think that because you have become the President of Indonesia, their lives will improve soon, their fears will diminish, and their sorrows will disappear.
For the first time in decades, the eyes of many poor Indonesian people are full of hope. They trust you, Mr. President. They feel optimism. Some of them now even dare to dream.
Hope… I was once told by a great South American writer and thinker, Eduardo Galeano that, “Hope is often all that poor people have. To give them hope, and then take it away, is worse then murdering them.”
Socialist governments were then beginning to emerge, all over South America – from Venezuela to Chile, from Argentina to Bolivia. This was Galeano’s massage to them: “Comrades, watch out! Keep you promises. Do not play with the hopes of your people!”
South American leaders listened, and prevailed. They turned hopes into reality. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work on behalf of their nations. They forgot all about false pride and they learned how to serve their people, how to put them first, how to defend those who were until then, abandoned and helpless.
Mr. President, the country, the state, is only great if it serves one single purpose: to improve the lives of its people, and to improve the lives of people all over the world.