Iqbal Fadil, Jakarta – The raid on Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso’s room at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney, Australia, is related to his past when as a officer of the Indonesian military (TNI) he served in East Timor. The Commander in Chief of the TNI even sees the incident as an effort to slander the TNI.
In 1975 Sutiyoso took part in the Flamboyan (poinciana tree) and Seroja (lotus) operations in East Timor, at the same time as the incident of the shooting of five Australian media journalists in Balibo, East Timor took place.
“There are non-government organisation interests overseas, particularly in Australia, who are always slandering and [trying to] force the TNI into a corner. It’s never ending. As if the TNI is still looking for people in Papua or taking care of refugees in East Timor”, said TNI Commander in Chief Admiral Djoko Suyanto at the TNI’s headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on Thursday May 31.
So advocacy against the TNI’s image being conducted by NGOs overseas, he continued, is still incessant. And they are looking through the mirror of incidents of human rights violations in the past. But they do not see the developments within the TNI since 2000, which has been reformed.
“Whereas for the TNI East Timor is a thing of the past, [now] it is precisely how we can safeguard the relationship with East Timor so that it is more favorable and better”, said Suyanto.
When asked what his response was with regard to what befell Sutiyoso, Suyanto said he regretted the incident. “I was also angry. Pak Sutiyoso phoned me at the time. And I said, your actions were correct in throwing the police out of your room”, he said.
Suyanto also explained that Sutiyoso had never been assigned to Balibo, but had instead been deployed in the northern part of East Timor. (sss/ana)
According to United Nations police, who in 2000 began a formal investigation into the killing of five Australian-based journalists at Balibo, then Captain Sutiyoso was one of several officers involved in the attack and other clandestine operations against Portuguese East Timor in 1975. In October of that year, Sutiyoso led an assault by Indonesian troops on the sleepy coastal town of Batugade in Timor, the first time that Jakarta had occupied and held a foreign town and the precursor to the full-scale invasion of East Timor two months later.
[Translated by James Balowski.]