*IBRAHIM ISA'S – SELECTED NEWS AND VIEWS*
*Tuesday, 09 February 2010*
*-- Comparing Haiti and Aceh – Dealing with disaster*
*-- THE WOMEN AND THE GENERALS*
*--The integration (Of Papua) is `valid and final'*
*Dealing with disaster: Comparing Haiti and Aceh*
The last international disaster on the scale of the January earthquake in Haiti
was the tsunami that devastated coastlines across Asia in 2004. The death toll
in the territory of Aceh in Indonesia was similar to that in the Haitian
The BBC's International Development Correspondent David Loyn, who reported from
both towns, looks at the differences in the international response.
Within days of the tsunami hitting Aceh, on the northern tip of the island of
Sumatra in Indonesia, an Australian army combat engineering battalion had landed
with a large force of trucks, earth-moving equipment, and water purification
They were the most visible sign of an international response that swiftly
brought ashore huge quantities of food, shelter, and basic sanitation.
A fleet of vessels, including a Greenpeace ship in the area, was commandeered to
move aid to where it was needed across a wide area.
In contrast, the most visible sign of aid in the same timeframe in Haiti was the
sight of US Navy helicopters ferrying ready-to-eat meals and bottled water from
the fleet anchored offshore.
Aid professionals shook their heads at this approach - so good on TV, but so
ineffective at delivering the quantities of relief necessary to help the three
million people believed to have been affected by the Haiti earthquake.
But at least the US forces were doing something.
In the squalid makeshift camps that emerged on the streets and on any open
ground in Port-au-Prince there was no sign of the shelter, sanitation nor packs
of basic essentials like soap and buckets that usually characterise the first
wave of aid donations.
So what had gone wrong? When there was such huge international generosity, both
by governments and individuals, why has it taken so long for effective aid to
reach those who need it?
Part of the answer lay in the security briefings that aid agencies received.
Some isolated scenes of looting and the sound of occasional gunfire reinforced
the view of security advisers that the streets of Port-au-Prince were a war
zone, and it found itself re-categorised into the same bracket of cities that
included Baghdad and Kabul.
That kept many aid workers firmly behind the safety fence at the UN compound.
Another problem came in the sheer scale of the US military deployment.
An aid official from a major and reputable international organisation told me
last week that when he had tried to secure landing rights for a relief flight
from Europe, he was told by the US authorities that the next available landing
slot "was on 9 February".
The airstrip is filled instead with US transport planes bringing in troops and
The problem is that this bottleneck means that the threat of worsening security
could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If they do not deliver the aid fast, they will need all those troops.
Despite the enormous loss of life, the Haitian response to the earthquake has
been characterised by the patience and resolve of a people who have suffered much.
But patience is not limitless.
The most effective response has come from the World Food Programme (WFP), which
has succeeded in raising food distribution from a few thousand a day to hundreds
But because of the enormous need and failures elsewhere in the system they need
to spend far more time negotiating security issues than they otherwise might.
The third major issue in Haiti was in the lack of coordination of aid. One
reason for this was the huge loss of life in the UN system - more than 80 dead,
including the head of mission.
But there was similar dislocation to the staff of aid agencies in Aceh, and
there the system recovered far more quickly, so that a new co-ordination network
could deliver aid across a far wider area than was affected in Haiti.
The biggest difference between the two countries was their starting point.
Indonesia is a rapidly developing nation, while Haiti is the only country in the
western hemisphere on that unenviable UN list of those defined as Least
Developed Countries (LDCs).
Corruption and the legacy of colonial interference have conspired against good
At the best of times, water and power are unreliable, and the streets are filled
with rotting refuse.
So it was hard to expect the efficient disposal of more than 100,000 corpses,
while broken water mains continue to flood streets that were not otherwise
affected by the earthquake.
*THE WOMEN AND THE GENERALS*
from The Women and The Generals on Vimeo. For a YouTube-video, which can be viewed on a cellphone, scroll down
a film by Maj Wechselmann
*DIRECTORS' STATEMENT *
We've made this film about the genocide in Indonesia 1965 by General Suharto
*his military and his gangs, with the aspirations and ambitions that "film*
can make a difference"*
The most remarkable you can say about our film is possibly that the
president of the National Commission of Human Rights, Idfal Kassim, in a
film interview for the first time admits that there WAS genocide: "We admit
that the number of the victims were 500.000 or maybe a million". Killed how?
Idfal Kassims subcomminsioner, Kabul Supriyadhie, classifies the killings as
"extraordinary crimes". He talks about the victims from 1965 who were
decapitated, their heads were given to their widows to carry them home.
The first of October 1965 a little group of leftist officers broke into the
homes of six generals to anticipate a coup from American friendly officers -
the leftist officers stated. The six generals were killed and thrown into
the "Alligator Hole", a well in an area just outside the capital Jakarta. In
his countercoup, general Suharto initiated the killings of one million so
called communists and threw at least 200.000 people into jails and prison
camps, where they were held from 9 up till 16 years without any trial or
TAPOL is the name of all those prisoners who were never tried in court or
convicted, but nevertheless were tortured and withered away in prisons and
camps during their entire youth. In this film you are going to hear the
stories of TAPOLS who spent a long time in prison, mostly school teachers,
former students, former housewives, trade unionists and foremost women from
the women's movement Gerwani.
We have been able to gather archive pictures from the massacres and not at
least are we for the first time able to show clips from the propaganda film
made by Suharto, which was obligatory for all Indonesian school children
every year for more than 20 years.
That film can make a difference has been proved two times in the case of
the violations of human rights committed by the Indonesian army.
1. In November 1991 the young female journalist, Amy Goodman and a TV-crew,
documented Indonesian soldiers massacring several hundreds of civilians at
the Santa Cruz Cemetery in Dili, East Timor. One of the crewmembers was
almost killed by the Indonesian soldiers. The pictures were cabled out
worldwide, contributed to international awareness of the gruesome repression
by the Indonesian army and finally led to the UN-sanctions against Indonesia
2. Recently another film has made an international audience aware of the
Indonesian cruelties: The Balibo-film, produced in Australia about a team of
five Australian journalists who were reporting about the Indonesian invasion
in East Timor to SBS (the Australian television broadcasting system). They
were tortured and murdered by the Indonesian army, their bodies were burned.
Due to the good business-relations between Australia and Indonesia, this
misdeed was blackened, but the fiction film about the fate of the young
journalists has raised a public storm in Australia and after 44 years of
silence the Australian police authorities have been forced to reopen the
murder case on the now liberated East Timor, where witnesses, even
Indonesian officers, have come forward and told about the killing of the
journalists. According to Reuters, this has resulted in a "chilling" of the
diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Australia - Not bad for a fiction
*INTEGRATION (Of Papua) IS 'VALID AND FINAL'*
Habel Melkias Suwae, a 58-year-old regent of Jayapura who witnessed Papua's
integration into Indonesia on May 1, 1963, and the controversial organizing of
the Papuan People's Free Choice on May 8, 1969, gave his political views on the
-What is your view on the controversial 1969 Determination of Papuan
People's Free Choice?
It was valid and its results were final. Almost 89 percent of 1,200
village heads representing their own people voted for Papua's integration with
It was organized by the UN and its results have been documented and accepted by
the UN and its member countries worldwide.
But some Papuans have rejected it, saying it was not held by a one-man-one-vote
principle of democracy?/
It was impossible to do so at the time because most people were politically
uneducated and living in remote jungles. And it was also unlikely to postpone it
to a later time when most Papuans had been educated and were aware of their rights.
Papuans have their own bad habits: When they receive money they stay silent but
when the money is finished they begin screaming. When they are in power they
boast that they are part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia
(NKRI) but after losing power they are outspoken in their criticism of the
government and call for the province's separation.
– Will you fall into the same hole?
I hope I will not do the same. The political style is a choice, we have done it
and all should remain consistent and accept the consequences.
– Can you comment on the increasing rejection of special autonomy for Papua?/
As a matter of policy and decision it cannot satisfy all sides. Many are opposed
because they have gained nothing or very little or they are no longer in power.
But all sides should bear in mind that special autonomy is a national consensus
which Papuans has also chosen and accepted as a solution to unresolved problems
In its implementation, special autonomy has its own strengths and weaknesses and
has given a big chance for the people to improve their social welfare. I am
aware of many political barriers in its full implementation but much progress
has been achieved under special autonomy. Papuans have to acknowledge the
progress we have achieved up to now is far better than during the centralistic
government of Soeharto.
– What are the root problems in Papua?/
Backwardness in education and health, poverty and inadequate infrastructures.
Almost 80 percent of the two million indigenous people in Papua are illiterate
and live in remote and isolated areas and they have no access to education and
The government will continue developing infrastructure, including roads and
bridges to make all villages in mountainous areas accessible. This is important
to bring modernity to the indigenous people and empower them to carry out their
Papuan should exercise patience and the economic development will continue
gradually due to the government's limited capacity.
– What do you do in your region?
With the annual budget of around Rp 500 billion, almost 90 percent of 13,500
families in the regency live a normal, humane life.
All the children go to school and we have public health facilities. All
districts are accessible and low-income families have been given training and
capital in farming, fishing and home industries under the people's empowerment
program in the last ten years.
We annually send students to study overseas and now 15 students are taking
post-graduate and doctoral programs in Australia, thanks to the annual special
* * *