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Western Interests in the Indonesian Papua Conflict

By Vladimir Romanov – New Eastern Outlook – 31.03.2019

Amid heated discussions of Brexit, another event stood out in the UK Parliament recently, as a motion was proposed which began collecting signatures, calling upon the UK Government to investigate reports which claim chemical weapons (white phosphorus) were used by the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) during an operation against militants in the Indonesian part of New Guinea, which Jakarta began following the Nduga massacre. The aim of this article is to take an objective look at what is happening, to find out why some British parliamentarians have decided to deliver such a démarche, and we will also look at the situation in this part of Southeast Asia, which Britain is trying to exploit to publicly justify its intervention in events around Indonesia.

In early December 2018, the mass killing of Indonesian construction workers took place in Nduga Regency, Papua, Indonesia, who were building a bridge. An armed Papuan separatist group killed 31 employees from the company Istaka Karya, which is working on the Trans-Papua motorway over Yigi River in the Yigi district of the Nduga Regency.

The Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat (West Papua National Liberation Army, TPNPB) claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the armed wing of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (Free Papua Movement, OPM)—a militant organization established in 1963, which is fighting for the independence of the Papua and West Papua provinces from Indonesia.

Western New Guinea is currently Indonesia’s most troubled region. The construction of the 6,632 km long Trans-Papua road, 48 airports, 15 seaports and a large-scale infrastructural programme for electricity lines should provide powerful momentum to accelerate economic growth and improve the living standards of the local population. But the government’s intensive integration policy for Papua and its effort to enhance the transport connectivity of the key region has been met with a fierce backlash from rebels.

Western New Guinea (the island’s Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua) accounts for about 24% of the total area of Indonesia’s territory, while it is home to only 1.7% of the country’s population. It is also one of Indonesia’s poorest regions, despite the fact that the land is rich in natural resources, covered by Southeast Asia’s largest rainforests, huge oil and gas reserves, and the world’s largest copper and gold deposits.

That being the case, armed separatist conflict has gone on in Papua since the 1960s.

The Netherlands recognized Indonesia’s independence in December 1949 with the exception of former Dutch East Indies territory in Western New Guinea, citing significant differences in climate, geography and the region’s ethnic composition: it is inhabited by Papuans, who are ethnically different from Indonesians. Between 1949 and 1962, the region remained a separate part of Dutch colonial territory called Netherlands New Guinea. Nevertheless, the Dutch government promised to grant Western New Guinea independence following a transition period

All of this led to the military confrontation which broke out between Indonesia and the Netherlands in 1960. Two years later, with mediation from the United States, both parties signed the New York agreement, under which Western New Guinea became Indonesian territory in 1963, on the condition that a plebiscite, a local referendum, would be held on the future of the Western New Guinea.

In 1969, there was no independence referendum, instead, 1,025 representatives of local tribes who had been specially selected by Indonesian authorities adopted the Act of Free Choice, according to which Western New Guinea officially became a part of Indonesia, which sparked the beginning of a protracted guerrilla war.

It is important to note that in 1967 (2 years prior to the referendum), Indonesia had sold a 30-year license for mining in Western New Guinea to the American company Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

Grasberg in the province of Papua is the largest gold mine and the second largest copper mine in the world. The giant Grasberg mine area is Indonesia’s largest economic entity and the country’s top taxpayer.

However, the government of Indonesia only owned 9.36% of the shares in PT Freeport Indonesia up until recently, which plays a direct role in developing the mine, while 90.64% of the shares are owned by the previously mentioned Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

Following two years of negotiations, Indonesia became the main owner of PT Freeport Indonesia at the end of December 2018, having bought up most of the shares from the transnational corporations Freeport McMoRan Inc. and Rio Tinto at $3.85 billion. Today, the state-owned mining company Inalum (PT Indonesia Asahan Alumunium) owns 51.23% of shares, while Freeport McMoRan holds 48.76%.

These changes which have taken place over recent years have mainly affected mining and the oil and gas sectors, given that Indonesia is actively implementing a policy of resource nationalism, which requires foreign companies engaged in the mining sector forfeit majority stakes if they wish to continue doing business in Indonesia.

However, most of the country’s mining and processing enterprises are still owned by American, British and Japanese transnational companies.

British Petroleum (BP) has become Indonesia’s largest investor since the company undertook a project to develop the Tangguh gas field in the province of West Papua.

The Tangguh field contains over 500 billion cubic meters of proven natural gas reserves, and estimates of potential reserves reach 800 billion cubic meters.

British Petroleum is the main owner of the field, which holds 37% of its shares, and its other major partners are the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and the Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation. According to forecasts, this supergiant oil field which is worth more than $100 billion should ensure the supply of gas to Japan, South Korea and China for the next 30 years.

Given the massive interest Western international companies have in Indonesia’s Western New Guinea, it is important that we highlight the links between outside forces and Papuan organizations and elements fighting for secession from Indonesia.

The Dutch laid the foundations of the current separatist movement in the 1950s, who established the Papuan Volunteer Corps, which paved the way for the previously mentioned Free Papua Movement. The movement received funding from Libya during the reign of Muammar Gaddafi, and militants were trained in the Philippines with the Maoist Guerrilla group New People’s Army.

According to reports from the Indonesian military, the separatists are currently receiving both makeshift (from the Philippines) and factory-made weapons, which are being delivered to the separatists by sea or through the territory of neighboring Papua New Guinea.

One of the most famous leaders of the Free Papua Movement, Benny Wenda, is the head of the self-proclaimed Republic Of West Papua and has been living in the UK since 2002. He has acted as a special representative of the Papuan people in the British Parliament, the United Nations and the European Parliament. In 2017, Benny Wenda was appointed as the Chairman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) – a new structure established in Vanuatu in 2014 by combining the three main political organizations that are fighting for the independence of West Papua: The Federal Republic of West Papua (Negara Republik Federal Papua Barat, NRFPB), the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) and the National Parliament of West Papua (NPWP).

In June 2015, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) received MSG observer status from the Melanesian Spearhead Group as representative of West Papuans outside the country. MSG is an intergovernmental organization composed of the four Melanesian states of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, as well as the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front of New Caledonia. Indonesia is recognized as an MSG associate member. The organization’s headquarters are in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Vanuatu, a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, passed the Wantok Blong Yumi Bill (Our Close Friends) in 2010, “officially declaring that Vanuatu’s foreign policy is to support the achievement of the independence of West Papua.” At the UN General Assembly in 2017, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands expressed their support for the people of West Papua to be allowed the right to self-determination.

Official representatives from Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Marshall Islands, and Papua New Guinea periodically lobby the UN for the separation of West Papua from Indonesia based on the example of East Timor, whereby the United Nations sponsored the country’s act of self-determination.

Since these countries have very limited resources and opportunities for development, it is a well-known fact that they are often used by stronger players (countries and transnational companies) who try to achieve their objectives by establishing offshore destinations for companies for example, or by acquiring votes form island states in the UN.

In May 2017, eleven New Zealand parliamentarians from four political parties signed the Westminster Declaration, which calls for West Papua’s right to self-determination to be legally recognized through an internationally supervised vote.

But Britain is a main hub for disseminating information in support of West Papua’s independence, where an organization was created called the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP). It is a cross-party group of politicians from around the world who support self-determination for the people of West Papua.

The political group is modeled on a similar group which furthered the independence movement for East Timor. Its main objective is to exert sufficient political pressure on the United Nations to prompt the review of the results of the 1969 Act of Free Choice in West Papua.

The International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) was established in 2008 at the British Houses of Parliament in London, and its speakers have included representatives from West Papua, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Britain, including Lord Avebury and Lord Richard Harris, in addition to a variety of human rights organizations. Benny Wenda is the head of the political group along with British Labor MP Andrew Smith and Lord Richard Harris.

A project was launched in Guyana (part of the British Commonwealth of Nations) by the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP), to work in conjunction with the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), and to develop a legal framework for the self-determination of West Papua and descriptions which evidence the “illegality” of the Indonesian “occupation of West Papua”.

The Free West Papua Campaign was launched in Oxford in 2004. The campaign’s stated aims are to “spread awareness of the human rights situation in Western New Guinea and the independence aspirations of the Papuan people, through lobbying Governments and developing support throughout society.” The campaign now has permanent offices in Oxford (UK), the Hague (Netherlands), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) and in Perth (Australia).

It is worth mentioning that Britain intends to increase its influence in the region by sending three new diplomatic missions to Vanuatu, Samoa and Tongo in May 2019.

The increased activity around West Papua in recent years is due to a demographic shift currently taking place, which has seen new migrants become a majority in many districts of the Papua and West Papua provinces. This could jeopardize any hope of secession being achieved through an internationally supervised referendum on independence.

According to the 1971 census, 96 per cent of the population in Western New Guinea were Papuans out of a total population of 923,000. Indigenous Papuans now only represent 51.5 per cent of the population as a result of the Indonesian government’s transmigration program, which is the planned mass movement of landless families from Indonesia’s densely populated islands (primarily Java) to less densely populated areas. This is a major factor fueling the Papua conflict.

It is important to note that there were plans in the early twentieth century to have the territory of Western New Guinea reserved for white European settlement and people who became known as—Eurasians—the descendants of mixed marriages between colonizers and the indigenous population.

The first plan was developed in 1923 to transform Dutch New Guinea into settlement territory. In 1926, a separate Association for the Settlement of New Guinea was established (Vereniging tot Kolonisatie van Nieuw-Guinea), and in 1930, it was followed by Stichting Immigratie Kolonisatie Nieuw-Guinea (Foundation Immigration and Settlement New Guinea). These organizations regarded Western New Guinea as untouched, almost empty land which could serve as a new homeland for the local white population and their descendants, similar to South Africa within Africa.

March 31, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Southeast Asia “Forgets” About Western Terror

By Andre Vltchek | CounterPunch | October 2, 2015

Southeast Asian elites “forgot” about those tens of millions of Asian people murdered by the Western imperialism at the end of and after the WWII. They “forgot” about what took place in the North – about the Tokyo and Osaka firebombing, about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, about the barbaric liquidation of Korean civilians by the US forces. But they also forgot about their own victims – about those hundreds of thousands, in fact about the millions, of those who were blown to pieces, burned by chemicals or directly liquidated – men, women and children of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.

All is forgiven and all is forgotten.

And once again the Empire is proudly “pivoting” into Asia; it is even bragging about it.

It goes without saying that the Empire has no shame and no decency left. It boasts about democracy and freedom, while it does not even bother to wash the blood of tens of millions off its hands.

All over Asia, the “privileged populaces” has chosen to not know, to not remember, or even to erase all terrible chapters of the history. Those who insist on remembering are being silenced, ridiculed, or made out to be irrelevant.

Such selective amnesia, such “generosity” will very soon backfire. Shortly, it will fly back like a boomerang. History repeats itself. It always does, the history of the Western terror and colonialism, especially. But the price will not be covered by the morally corrupt elites, by those lackeys of the Western imperialism. As always, it will be Asia’s poor who will be forced to pay.

Patet Lao HQ Cave in Laos

After I descended from the largest cave in the vicinity of Tham Pha Thok, Laos, I decided to text my good Vietnamese friend in Hanoi. I wanted to compare the suffering of Laotian and Vietnamese people.

The cave used to be “home” to Pathet Lao. During the Second Indochina War it actually served as the headquarters. Now it looked thoroughly haunted, like a skull covered by moss and by tropical vegetation.

The US air force used to intensively bomb the entire area and there are still deep craters all around, obscured by the trees and bushes.

The US bombed the entirety of Laos, which has been given a bitter nickname: “The most bombed country on earth”.

It is really hard to imagine, in a sober state, what the US, Australia and their Thai allies did to the sparsely populated, rural, gentle Laos.

John Bacher, a historian and a Metro Toronto archivist once wrote about “The Secret War”: “More bombs were dropped on Laos between 1965 and 1973 than the U.S. dropped on Japan and Germany during WWII. More than 350,000 people were killed. The war in Laos was a secret only from the American people and Congress. It anticipated the sordid ties between drug trafficking and repressive regimes that have been seen later in the Noriega affair.”

In this biggest covert operation in the U.S. history, the main goal was to “prevent pro-Vietnamese forces from gaining control” over the area. The entire operation seemed more like a game that some overgrown, sadistic boys were allowed to play: Bombing an entire nation into the Stone Age for more than a decade. But essentially this “game” was nothing else than one of the most brutal genocides in the history of the 20th century.

Naturally, almost no one in the West or in Southeast Asia knows anything about this.

Laos - Plain of Jars - 2 copy

I texted my friend: “What I witnessed a few years ago working at the Plain of Jars was, of course, much more terrible than what I just saw around Tham Pha Thok, but even here, the horror of the US actions was crushing.” I also sent her a link to my earlier reports covering the Plain of Jars.

A few minutes later, she replied: “If you didn’t tell me… I would have never known about this secret war. As far as we knew, there was never a war in Laos. Pity for Lao people!”

I asked my other friends in Vietnam, and then in Indonesia. Nobody knew anything about the bombing of Laos.

The “Secret War” remains top-secret, even now, even right here, in the heart of the Asia Pacific region, or more precisely, especially here.

When Noam Chomsky and I were discussing the state of the world in what eventually became our book “On Western Terrorism – From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare”, Noam mentioned his visit to the war-torn Laos. He clearly remembered Air America pilots, as well as those hordes of Western journalists who were based in Vientiane but too busy to not see and to not ask any relevant questions.

***

“In the Philippines, the great majority of people is now convinced that the US actually ‘liberated’ our country from the Japanese”, my left-wing journalist friends once told me.

Dr. Teresa S. Encarnación Tadem, Professor of Political Science of University of the Philippines Diliman, explained to me last year, face to face, in Manila: “There is a saying here: “Philippines love Americans more than Americans love themselves.”

I asked: “How is it possible? The Philippines were colonized and occupied by the United States. Some terrible massacres took place… The country was never really free. How come that this ‘love’ towards the US is now prevalent?”

“It is because of extremely intensive North American propaganda machine”, clarified Teresa’s husband, Dr. Eduardo Climaco Tadem, Professor of Asian Studies of University of the Philippines Diliman. “It has been depicting the US colonial period as some sort of benevolent colonialism, contrasting it with the previous Spanish colonialism, which was portrayed as ‘more brutal’. Atrocities during the American-Philippine War (1898 – 1902) are not discussed. These atrocities saw 1 million Philippine people killed. At that period it was almost 10% of our population… the genocide, torture… Philippines are known as “the first Vietnam”… all this has been conveniently forgotten by the media, absent in the history books. And then, of course, the images that are spread by Hollywood and by the American pop culture: heroic and benevolent US military saving battered countries and helping the poor…”

Basically, entirely reversing the reality.

The education system is very important”, added Teresa Tadem. “The education system manufactures consensus, and that in turn creates support for the United States… even our university – University of the Philippines – was established by the Americans. You can see it reflected in the curriculum – for instance the political science courses… they all have roots in the Cold War and its mentality.”

Almost all children of the Asian “elites” get “educated” in the West, or at least in so-called “international schools” in their home countries, where the imperialist curriculum is implemented. Or in the private, most likely religious/Christian schools… Such “education” borrows heavily from the pro-Western and pro-business indoctrination concepts.

And once conditioned, children of the “elites” get busy brainwashing the rest of the citizens. The result is predictable: capitalism, Western imperialism, and even colonialism become untouchable, respected and admired. Nations and individuals who murdered millions are labeled as carriers of progress, democracy and freedom. It is “prestigious” to mingle with such people, as it is highly desirable to “follow their example”. The history dies. It gets replaced by some primitive, Hollywood and Disney-style fairytales.

monument to American War in Hanoi

In Hanoi, an iconic photograph of a woman pulling at a wing of downed US military plane is engraved into a powerful monument. It is a great, commanding piece of art.

My friend George Burchett, a renowned Australian artist who was born in Hanoi and who now lives in this city again, is accompanying me.

The father of George, Wilfred Burchett, was arguably the greatest English language journalist of the 20th Century. Asia was Wilfred’s home. And Asia was where he created his monumental body of work, addressing some of the most outrageous acts of brutality committed by the West: his testimonies ranged from the first-hand account of the Hiroshima A-bombing, to the mass murder of countless civilians during the “Korean War”. Wilfred Burchett also covered Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, to name just a few unfortunate places totally devastated by the United States and its allies.

Now his books are published and re-printed by prestigious publishing houses all over the world, but paradoxically, they do not live in sub-consciousness of the young people of Asia.

The Vietnamese people, especially the young ones, know very little about the horrific acts committed by the West in their neighboring countries. At most they know about the crimes committed by France and the US in their own country – in Vietnam, nothing or almost nothing about the victims of the West-sponsored monsters like Marcos and Suharto. Nothing about Cambodia – nothing about who was really responsible for those 2 millions of lost lives.

The “Secret Wars” remain secret.

George Burchett in Hanoi

With George Burchett I admired great revolutionary and socialist art at the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts. Countless horrible acts, committed by the West, are depicted in great detail here, as well as the determined resistance struggle fought against US colonialism by the great, heroic Vietnamese people.

But there was an eerie feeling inside the museum – it was almost empty! Besides us, there were only a few other visitors, all foreign tourists: the great halls of this stunning art institution were almost empty.

heroic Vietnamese women destroying US tank

Indonesians don’t know, because they were made stupid!” Shouts my dear old friend Djokopekik, at his art studio in Yogyokarta, He is arguably the greatest socialist realist artist of Southeast Asia. On his canvases, brutal soldiers are kicking the backsides of the poor people, while an enormous crocodile (a symbol of corruption) attacks, snaps at, and eats everyone in sight. Djokopekik is open, and brutally honest: “It was their plan; great goal of the regime to brainwash the people. Indonesians know nothing about their own history or about the rest of Southeast Asia!”

Before he died, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the most influential writer of Southeast Asia, told me: “They cannot think, anymore… and they cannot write. I cannot read more than 5 pages of any contemporary Indonesian writer… the quality is shameful…” In the book that we (Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Rossie Indira and I) wrote together – “Exile” -, he lamented that Indonesian people do not know anything about history, or about the world.

Had they known, they would most definitely raise and overthrow this disgraceful regime that is governing their archipelago until these days.

2 to 3 million Indonesian people died after the 1965 military coup, triggered and supported by the West and by the religious clergy, mainly by Protestant implants from Europe. The majority of people in this desperate archipelago are now fully conditioned by the Western propaganda, unable to even detect their own misery. They are still blaming the victims (mainly Communists, intellectuals and “atheists”) for the events that took place exactly 50 years ago, events that broke the spine of this once proud and progressive nation.

Indonesians almost fully believe the right wing, fascist fairytales, fabricated by the West and disseminated through the local mass media channels controlled by whoring local “elites”… It is no wonder: for 50 nasty years they have been “intellectually” and “culturally” conditioned by the lowest grade Hollywood meditations, by Western pop music and by Disney.

They know nothing about their own region.

They know nothing about their own crimes. They are ignorant about the genocides they have been committing. More than half of their politicians are actually war criminals, responsible for over 30% of killed men, women and children during the US/UK/Australia-backed occupation of East Timor (now an independent country), for the 1965 monstrous bloodletting and for the on-going genocide, which Indonesia conducts in Papua.

Information about all these horrors is available on line. There are thousands of sites carrying detailed and damning evidence. Yet, cowardly and opportunistically, the Indonesian “educated” populace is opting for “not knowing”.

Of course, the West and its companies are greatly benefiting from the plunder of Papua.

Therefore, the genocide is committed, all covered with secrecy.

And ask in Vietnam, in Burma, even in Malaysia, what do people know about East Timor and Papua? The answer will be nothing, or almost nothing.

Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines – they may be located in the same part of the world, but they could be as well based on several different planets. That was the plan: the old divide-and-rule British concept.

In Manila, the capital of the Philippines, a family that was insisting that Indonesia is actually located in Europe once confronted me. The family was equally ignorant of the crimes committed by the pro-Western regime of Marcos.

***

The western media promotes Thailand as the “land of smiles”, yet it is an extremely frustrated and brutal place, where the murder rate is even(on per capita basis) higher than that in the United States.

Thailand has been fully controlled by the West since the end of the WWII. Consequently, its leadership (the throne, the elites and the military)have allowed some of the most gruesome crimes against humanity to take place on its territory. To mention just a few: the mass murder of the Thai left wing insurgents and sympathizers (some were burned alive in oil barrels), the murdering of thousands of Cambodian refugees, the killing and raping of student protesters in Bangkok and elsewhere… And the most terrible of them: the little known Thai participation in the Vietnam invasion during the “American War”…the intensive use of Thai pilots during the bombing sorties against Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as handing several military airports (including Pattaya) to the Western air forces. Not to speak about pimping of Thai girls and boys (many of them minors) to the Western military men.

***

The terror that the West has been spreading all over Southeast Asia seems to be forgotten, or at least for now.

Let’s move on!” I heard in Hanoi and in Luang Prabang.

But while the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian people are busy “forgiving” their tormentors the Empire has been murdering the people of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine, and all corners of Africa.

It was stated by many, and proven by some, particularly in South America, where almost all the demons have been successfully exercised, that there can be no decent future for this Planet without recognizing and understanding the past.

After “forgiving the West”, several nations of Southeast Asia were immediately forced into the confrontation with China and Russia.

When “forgiven”, the West does not just humbly accept the great generosity of its victims. Such behavior is not part of its culture. Instead, it sees kindness as weakness, and it immediately takes advantage of it.

By forgiving the West, by “forgetting” its crimes, Southeast Asia is actually doing absolutely nothing positive. It is only betraying its fellow victims, all over the world.

It is also, pragmatically and selfishly, hoping for some returns. But returns will never come! History has shown it on many occasions. The West wants everything. And it believes that it deserves everything. If not confronted, it plunders until the end, until there is nothing left – as it did in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Iraq or in Indonesia.

Laos Plain of Jars - village fence made of American bombs copy 2

Renowned Australian historian and Professor Emeritus at Nagasaki University in Japan, Geoffrey Gunn, wrote in this essay:

“The US wields hard power and soft power in equal portions or so it would appear. Moving in and out of East Asia over the last four decades I admit to being perplexed as to the selectivity of memories of the American record. Take Laos and Cambodia in the 1970s where, in each country respectively, the US dropped a greater tonnage of bombs than dumped on Japanese cities during World War II, and where unexploded ordinance still takes a daily toll. Not so long ago I asked a high-ranking regime official in Phnom Penh as to whether the Obama administration had issued an apology for this crime of crimes. “No way,” he said, but then he wasn’t shaking his fist either, just as the population appears to be numbed as to basic facts of their own history beyond some generalized sense of past horrors. In Laos in December 1975 where I happened to be when, full of rage at the US, revolutionaries took over; the airing of American crimes – once a propaganda staple – has been relegated to corners of museums. Ditto in Vietnam, slowly entering the US embrace as a strategic partner, and with no special American contrition as to the victims of bombing, chemical warfare and other crimes. In East Timor, sacrificed by US President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the Indonesian generals in the interest of strategic denial, and where some 30 percent of the population perished, America is forgiven or, at least, airbrushed out of official narratives. Visiting the US on a first state visit, China’s President Xi Jinping drums up big American business deals, a “new normal” in the world’s second largest economy and now US partner in the “war against terror,” as in Afghanistan. Well, fresh from teaching history in a Chinese university, I might add that history does matter in China but with Japan as an all too obvious point of reference.”

“China used to see the fight against Western imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism as the main rallying cry of its foreign policy”, sighs Geoff, as we watch the bay of his home city – Nagasaki. “Now it is only Japan whose crimes are remembered in Beijing.”

But back to Southeast Asia…

It is all forgotten and forgiven, and the reason “why” is clear, simple. It pays to forget! “Forgiveness” brings funding; it secures “scholarships” just one of the ways Western countries spread corruption in its client states and in the states they want to draw into their orbit.

The elites with their lavish houses, trips abroad, kids in foreign schools, are a very forgiving bunch!

But then you go to a countryside, where the majority of Southeast Asian people still live. And the story there is very different. The story there makes you shiver.

Before departing from Laos, I sat at an outdoor table in a village of Nam Bak, about 100 kilometers from Luang Prabang. Ms. Nang Oen told me her stories about the US carpet-bombing, and Mr. Un Kham showed me his wounds:

“Even here, in Nam Bak, we had many craters all over, but now they are covered by rice fields and houses. In 1968, my parents’ house was bombed… I think they dropped 500-pound bombs on it. Life was unbearable during the war. We had to sleep in the fields or in the caves. We had to move all the time. Many of us were starving, as we could not cultivate our fields.

I ask Ms. Nang Oen about the Americans. Did she forget, forgive?

“How do I feel about them? I actually can’t say anything. After all these years, I am still speechless. They killed everything here, including chicken. I know that they are doing the same even now, all over the world…”

She paused, looked at the horizon.

“Sometimes I remember what was done to us… Sometimes I forget”. She shrugs her shoulders. “But when I forget, it is only for a while. We did not receive any compensation, not even an apology. I cannot do anything about it. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I cry.”

I listened to her and I knew, after working for decades in this part of the world: for the people of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and East Timor, nothing is forgotten and nothing is forgiven. And it should never be!

author refuses to forget and forgive

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western Imperialism.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment