Today's lesson is taken from
Obviously, the main topic of conversation here has been yesterday's bombing.
Judging by the useful round-up of links at East Meets Westerner
, the Australians seem to have taken this personally. I'm not so sure that they were singled out specifically and feel that the location of their embassy made it an easier target than, say, the British Embassy which is set further back from the road, with a wider buffer zone.
As always, we Brits remain somewhat sanguine, if you get my meaning. The following is the text of an email sent out today to All Wardens and British Business Liaison Group
You will be relieved to hear that we have no reports of British casualties from the bomb outside the Australian Embassy earlier today.
(So that's all right then??) We will continue to review the security situation. Please continue to monitor the FCO travel advice at www.fco.gov.uk.
09 September 2004
The Foreign Office advisory today includes the following:
* There was a large explosion outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta on 9 September, killing at least nine people.
* We continue to receive reports that terrorists in Indonesia are planning further attacks on Westerners and Western interests. They have shown in previous attacks, like the attack on the Australian Embassy and the Bali bombings, that they have the means and the motivation to carry out successful attacks.
* Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe and can include the death penalty.
* We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.
There is more detail, but I wonder about the order of the above. What's the relevance of the warning about drug importation in this section?
Other significant news this week related to the New Order regime of Soeharto has obviously received lesser prominence.
Firstly, the death from of natural causes was reported on Wednesday night of former military chief, Gen. (ret) Andi Mohamad Jusuf
, who led the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) between 1978 and 1983.
His death has also likely buried the truth behind the disputed 'Letter of 11 March', popularly known as Supersemar
, which marked the historic transition of power from then president Sukarno to then Maj. Gen. Soeharto, back in 1967. Jusuf was one of three generals assigned by Soeharto to meet Sukarno.
Scholars have alleged that Soeharto had drawn up the letter which, in dubious language, transferred the country's authority to Soeharto and sent the messengers, Gen. Jusuf and two other generals, Amir Machmud and Basuki Rachmat (who have also since died), to force Sukarno to sign it. The Army and Soeharto have firmly denied 'the alleged coup' for years. As the whereabouts of the Supersemar
remain a mystery, it is doubtful that the truth will ever be known.
Read Macam Macam
for greater details about this time.
Another death, probably also from natural causes, is more tragic. Outspoken rights campaigner Munir
, 38, died onboard a flight to the Netherlands on Tuesday morning, to the shock of many who knew him as 'the voice of the voiceless'.
Sydney Jones of the International Crisis Group
, herself the recent 'victim
' of New Order forces, writes an eloquent obituary of Munir here
Sydney is now based in Singapore. Regarding yesterday's bombing she could well say "I told you so" as she has long been one of the world's authorities on the activities of the probable perpetrators, Jemaah Islamiah (J.I.) As she wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review on December 19th 2002
, "Indonesian terrorism is clearly bigger than we thought and there are more little groups than we thought. It covers the entire country - that is the scary thing
Scary maybe, but it's good to know that it hasn't deterred tourists to Bali, both Australian
Tomorrow I have to collect various payments around town. I hope, a strangely callous word, to see for myself how Jakarta is coping.
And finally, I must thank those of you who have written to express your thoughts. They are most welcome, but I am merely a bystander in all this. Others, more innocent than I, are the ones who must be thought of.
Terrorists are misguided. In a world without inequalities of wealth, with opportunities to live and think freely, there would be little need for revolutionary heroes.
I'm a free agent, I can protest. This must be freedom, I must be happy ...
- R. Wyatt, 'Born Again Cretin'
I remain an unashamed idealist; I do not believe in original sin. Rather, there is good in all of us.