zondag 1 juni 1997

Prabowo: educated in the West

Military with red beret is Prabowo. Poster by Yayak.
The son-in-law of President Soeharto, Major General Prabowo is a rising star on the military firmament. Like all other children of Soeharto, the favourite son-in-law - because he is the only one with a military career - is fortunate. This wealth he uses to act as a sugar daddy to his troops.

During last summer he gained the command of KOPASSUS, the army's special forces. In June 1996 KOPASSUS was expanded by 2 battalions and almost doubled in size. Also the commander of the most important military districts of Java are close to the president after the reshuffles of last year. It looks as though Soeharto is surrounding himself with ultra loyal military as a kind of National Guard and Prabowo is one of them.

But Prabowo is not only committed to his father in law. He is also one of the officers known for his brutal repression e.g. in East Timor. The Jakarta Post said without restraint: "Prabowo is considered to have succeeded in quelling the Fretilin separatist group in East Timor." In 1979 he shot the leader of Fretilin Nicalao Lobato.

According to a report by TAPOL Prabowo created an infrastructure of Timorese for the purpose of "using Timorese to fight Timorese". These troops were used to fight against the East Timorese resistance and had to show the world that East Timorese also fight among each other. However: "They knew he was my friend and I was forced to shoot him. They do these things to test you," said one of the recruits who found refuge in Australia. Timor Link reported that 3,000 East Timorese are newly recruited to be trained in a programme set up in 1995 by Prabowo. "Five hundred of these will be assigned to keep tabs on East Timorese students in Java and Bali. Some agents provocateurs are already suspected of having been involved in embassy break-ins, and have gone with other East Timorese asylum seekers to Portugal," according to Peter Carey in Timor Link.

Prabowo also served in combat units in Aceh and West Papua. He was also one of the generals who gave the go-ahead for the raid on the PDI offices on the 27th of July, together with general Sutiyoso, against the will of the chief of staff of the general staff.

One of his adopted sons - he adopted several East Timorese boys - organised a demonstration in front of the Norwegian embassy in Jakarta. This in connection with the Nobel prize for peace ceremony in Oslo. The demonstration was protesting that the prize was given to José Ramos Horta. A few days before he was in Oslo for the same reason.

Educated in the U.S. at Army Special Forces Officer school and with the German elite unit GSG-9 he is the counter-argument in person against the vision that education in the West is promoting human rights. Recently Prabowo instigated a course for senior Indonesian military officers on ... human rights, by British institutes. After protests by human rights activists this program was cancelled.(MB)

Sources: Jane's Intelligence Review September 1996; Jane's Defence Weekly 3 January 1996; Timor Link October 1996; Report on anti-Horta demonstrations in front of the Norwegian embassy in Jakarta, 18-12-96, by TAPOL; Tapol Bulletin no. 137; VeeDee AMOK no. 1, 1997; Sydney Morning Herald March 6, 1997; and Matthew Jardine; East Timor Genocide in Paradise.

Text from Indonesia; arms trade to a military regime.