MAC: Mines and Communities

quot;Indonesian army is promoting violence"

Published by MAC on 2002-09-26

"Indonesian army is promoting violence"

[The following is taken from a transcript by ABC Radio Asia/Pacific 29/09/2002 15:50:54] Correspondents' Report

HAMISH ROBERTSON: One of Australia's top Indonesia-watchers says that Indonesia'smilitary is promoting, not fighting, communal violence.

Dr Harold Crouch has told the annual Indonesia Update Conference that it serves the interests of the Indonesian Army to keep violence going in areas such as Aceh and West Papua.As Graeme Dobell reports this is at odds with the argument by the Australian Government this week that Indonesia's military - the TNI - is a crucial force for stability.

GRAEME DOBELL: Australia's defence minister, Robert Hill, is keen to resume the defence relationship with Indonesia building up military links in areas like intelligence, training and maritime surveillance. Senator Hill says Indonesia's military leadership wants to develop a more professional force and is a key to maintaining order.

ROBERT HILL: TNI will remain a fundamentally important institution in Indonesia. its handling of difficult internal security problems across the archipelago will have a crucial bearing on stability. As a secular organisation it will remain key to the government's efforts to promote tolerance and harmony between Indonesia's many different faiths.

GRAEME DOBELL: But Dr Harold Crouch has spent the last two years in Jakarta as the head of international crisis group, and he describes an Indonesian military still making its own rules. The army gets only one-third of its budget from the Indonesian state. The other two-thirds of the budget is raised by the military itself. from businesses enterprises and from corruption.

HAROLD CROUCH: The largest source of military finance is actually from illegal activities. Indeed most of the funds are raised from what can only be called extortion. Let's say, for example, huge markups on military purchases, protection from foreign and Indonesian enterprises, the big petrol and chemical plants, big mines and that sort of thing. Wherever there is illegal mining, illegal logging, illegal fishing, cattle rustling, whatever, smuggling, you'll find military elements.

GRAEME DOBELL: Dr Crouch says a tacit agreement with the government means there are no real prosecutions of military officers for human rights crimes. Indeed he says, officers keep regional conflicts on the boil to serve their own interests.

HAROLD CROUCH: It's hard to prove, but there are... indications that this affects the senior officers [who] actually have an interest in these conflicts continuing. Just take some of the big petro-chemical or mining American firms. If there's complete peace in Aceh and Papua, are they going to make contributions to the military - of course not. Now I'm not suggesting the military has an interest in starting a full-scale war again. At the same time, they don't want a full-scale peace. They like to keep the pot boiling basically and that is very profitable for the military. Complex web behind Papua violence (Radio Australia)

Last weekend's killings of three school teachers in Papua highlights the complex relationship between the Freeport mining company, the Indonesian military, and local Papuan villagers. P.T. Freeport Indonesia is a subsidiary of the US corporation Freeport McMoRan and operates a giant copper and gold mine in the Grasberg mountains in Papua.

Presenter/Interviewer: Nic McLellan Speaker: Australian author Dr Denise Leith, author of the book "The Politics of Power - Freeport in Suharto's Indonesia", to be published in October 2002

LEITH: "Freeport provide many, many, many services to the traditional people which they would not have if the company was not there. It certainly provides hospitals and medical services. It provides education to teachers and I believe in some instances teachers, it provides schools and scholarships. It provides many services to the traditional people."

"At the same time, the traditional people are very upset because they believe that this company has become extraordinarily wealthy by raping it's resources, and they feel that they have very little back, despite what Freeport feel has been a very generous relationship that they've had in the last few years with traditional people. I don't believe that the traditional people feel that Freeport has been extraordinarily generous at all."

The company's profits ...there have been years when the company's made over 200 million dollars clear profit, and the traditional people get about 15 million dollars a year paid back in services to the community. Given the way in which the traditional people still live, in comparison to the way the ex-pat workers and Freeport workers live within the concession there, the traditional people are still very angry and very upset that they are not given near enough for what they see are their resources."

MACLELLAN: Recently the US Governmnet has introduced new requirement for companies to report on their financial accounts. Has this impacted on the relations between the Indonesian Authorities and the Freeport McMoRan company?

LEITH: "That act, the corporate fraud act is quite interesting in that all American CEOs have to sign-off on that by the 14th of August. Freeport CEO,Jim Bob Moffet, or James Robert Moffet has signed-off on that piece of legislation. That means that should Freeport McMoRan or any other American company be lying in their annual reports in any way shape or form, or in their figures that they give to the stock exchange reporting of their annual reports, then they can be held totally accountable."

"My concern was that this may have been a reason that affected Freeport's relationship with the Indonesian Military because the company has been accused for many many years of paying money to the Indonesian military. There certainly have been recorded incidences of them paying money into the Military's bank accounts. Now if Freeport continue to do this, they're going to be held responsible?"

MACLELLAN: Do you think that there's the likelihood of further conflict in the area around the mine concession, in the wake of last week's shootings?

LEITH: "More violence...yes I believe that there will be more violence from the Indonesian military within the concession. If it is the OPM they will be after the people who actually committed violence. If it's not the OPM they still will be blaming the OPM and they will probably close off the concession and take out reprisals on the traditional people in the villages."

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