Quoted from The other tsunami, Cover story in The New Statesman by John Pilger, Monday 10th January 2005.
The west’s crusaders, the United States and Britain, are giving less to help the tsunami victims than the cost of a Stealth bomber or a week’s bloody occupation of Iraq. The bill for George Bush’s coming inauguration party would rebuild much of the coastline of Sri Lanka. Bush and Blair increased their first driblets of “aid” only when it became clear that people all over the world were spontaneously giving millions and that a public relations problem beckoned. The Blair government’s current “generous” contribution is one-sixteenth of the £800m it spent on bombing Iraq before the invasion and barely one-twentieth of a £1bn gift, known as a soft loan, to the Indonesian military so that it could acquire Hawk fighter-bombers.
On 24 November, one month before the tsunami struck, the Blair government gave its backing to an arms fair in Jakarta, “designed to meet an urgent need for the [Indonesian] armed forces to review its defence capabilities”, reported the Jakarta Post. The Indonesian military, responsible for genocide in East Timor, has killed more than 20,000 civilians and “insurgents” in Aceh. Among the exhibitors at the arms fair was Rolls-Royce, manufacturer of engines for the Hawks, which, along with British-supplied Scorpion armoured vehicles, machine-guns and ammunition, were terrorising and killing people in Aceh up to the day the tsunami devastated the province.
The Australian government, currently covering itself in glory for its modest response to the historic disaster befallen its Asian neighbours, has secretly trained Indonesia’s Kopassus special forces, whose atrocities in Aceh are well documented. This is in keeping with Australia’s 40-year support for oppression in Indonesia, notably its devotion to the dictator Suharto while his troops slaughtered a third of the population of East Timor. The government of John Howard – notorious for its imprisonment of child asylum-seekers – is at present defying international maritime law by denying East Timor its due of oil and gas royalties worth some $8bn. Without this revenue, East Timor, the world’s poorest country, cannot build schools, hospitals and roads or provide work for its young people, 90 per cent of whom are unemployed.