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Toward a radical middle

a time for fear
Friday, February 13, 2004  
Tim Sebastian, BBC World HARDtalk: You are trying to give the Indonesians a better image?
It would be hard to give Indonesia a better image

Bob Dole: No it's easy. Indonesia is in a transition to
democracy and President Megawatti is doing a great

TS: They can't get control of their army and
stop it massacring people in Aceh province. That would
help their image.

BD: You've got that journalist's limited view of the
country. Here this the 4th largest country in the
world. The greatest population of Muslims; 90% Muslim.
17,000 islands; 7000 inhabited. And we pick out one
little place where they are making progress. They're
in a transition to democracy. We ought to be standing
up and applauding Indonesia.

TS: They are massacring people. You know that
as well as I do, in Aceh province.

BD: When?

TS: Over the last year, the last two years.

BD: No, I don't think so.

TS: Look at the figures.

BD: It is being investigated. There are a lot of ...
Again, Let's look at the big picture. I think there
are things going on in every country that we don't
like. There are things going on in America that we
don't like.

TS: So we should chat about it

BD: We ought to let people know about it and maybe
we can change it. But don't sink the whole country
because of a problem in one little place. If they
don't deal with it, if they don't try to deal with it
then you go after the people. But when they are trying
to deal with it. It's a very complex country.

TS: Human beings should be treated as human
beings whether it is a little place or a big place.

BD: That has been my view ever since I was born and
raised and grew up living in a basement. I've been in
the bottom so really know where the people are who
really need the help.

Sweden has been, until recently, the most popular destination for exiled GAM leaders, but after former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas visited Stockholm in June last year their status has become less secure. Now they all want to move to Norway. In fact, over 200 political refugees from Aceh have already moved there in the last 3 years, but 50 top GAM operatives currently remain in Sweden.

Aceh's brutal little war continues. The UK has gone lax on its restrictions regarding Indonesian use of Hawks and Scorpions, which we sold to them on condition that they would not be used for internal suppression, which is exactly what they are being used for.

6:36 PM

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