LETTER: Arms trade turns blind eye

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The Independent Online
YOUR disturbing report on Major-General Mohammed Yosfiah ("UK welcomed officer despite link to murder of Britons", 5 November) is a timely reminder of Britain's complicity in Indonesian genocide in East Timor and its support for General Suharto's regime.

Since the mid-1960s, when the Indonesian army orchestrated the killings of over half a million "Communists" and sentencedthousands to a living death in the gulags of eastern Indonesia, Britain has become Jakarta's principal arms supplier. Is it any wonder that neither the Ministry of Defence nor the Foreign Office inquire into the background of the Indonesian officers they welcome into our military academies?

These have included General Yosfiah's superior officer, General Adolf Sahala Rajagukguk, a graduate of the British Army Staff College (1972- 73), who was East Timor Military Commander in the early 1980s. There was Major General Mochammad Hindarto, a beneficiary of the British government's Indonesian police training scheme, who came to Britain in 1986 before being appointed police chief of the eastern Indonesian region covering East Timor (1992-93) during the height of the purges which followed the 12 November 1991 Santa Cruz massacre, when 271 Timorese were killed, 382 were wounded and 250 declared "missing".

The fact that, 20 years after the murder of the five Western journalists at Balibo by General (then Captain) Yosfiah's special forces, Indonesian officers are boasting about their exploits, is indication enough that they take for granted the indulgence of their Western patrons, not least the British.

Dr Peter Carey

Trinity College