9 July 2010

Indonesia and Balibo

Recent Australian governments have fallen over themselves to extend the hand of generosity to our neighbors Indonesia. Or as politicians would have you believe - our close neighbors and friends.

In 2009-2010, Australian aid to Indonesia will be worth an estimated $452.5 million, making Indonesia the largest recipient of Australian aid. In response to the global financial crisis and a request from Indonesia, Australia has agreed to provide a US$1 billion Standby Loan, as part of a US$5.5 billion World Bank-led package, which also includes the Asian Development Bank and Japan.

Then there was a $6.2 million contribution to assist Indonesia prepare for and hold Parliamentary and Presidential elections in 2009. Let us not forget the tens of millions poured into "counter-terrorism" and Indonesian security forces over the years.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia and Indonesia cooperate in practical ways on a wide range of international issues, including counter-terrorism, illegal fishing, people smuggling, avian influenza, climate change and interfaith dialogue.

Basically what that means is we provide the money and they do nothing for us in return. Sod all in fact - especially when it comes to justice.

We were kicked in the teeth over the Bali bombings, Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby (although to be honest, I wont lose too much sleep over the last two) and now the Balibo Five.

The Balibo Five were a group of journalists for Australian television networks based in the town of Balibo in East Timor (then Portuguese Timor) where they were killed on 16 October 1975 during Indonesian incursions prior to the invasion.In 2007, an Australian coroner ruled that they had been deliberately killed by Indonesian special force soldiers - forces we now help train.

A feature film about the killing of the men, called Balibo has been made - and banned in Indonesia. The Sydney Morning Herald reports government censors prohibited it last year, saying it failed to show an Indonesian perspective and it would strain relations with Australia. ''It would open old wounds,'' the head of regulation and censorship, Teso Baskoro, said outside the court.

Strain relations? Relations are already strained because many Australians are quite frankly sick and tired of handing over tax payer dollars by the bucket load to a country that laughs all the way to the bank and gives nothing in return.

So what if it opens old wounds, the widows and families of the journalists slain by Indonesian forces have lived with heartbreaking wounds for 35 years while Indonesia went out of their way to ensure a cover up and deny grieving families justice and closure.

Just for once, it would be nice if an Australian politician had the balls to say to Indonesia - we give you hundreds of millions in aid - now we want something from you -


See also Saturday, December 05, 2009, Indonesia: Drop ban on Balibo (Mike Hitchen Online - i On Global Trends)

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