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Jubilee Statements

Monitoring the impacts of government and corporate behaviour in communities overseas.

Suharto dead but his crimes live on for Indonesians

Release Date: 11-Feb-2008

Suharto dead but his crimes will live on for the people of Indonesia.  Australia must take responsibility for any role it had in supporting the former dictator.

In his 31 years as ruler of Indonesia, Suharto and his cronies embezzled an alleged USD15 - 31bn through corrupt dealings, kickbacks and spurious ‘charity projects’ and trusts.

Significant amounts of these stolen funds were taken from development loans provided by countries like Australia.

Indonesia is Australia’s largest borrower and closest neighbour. Over three decades of undemocratic military rule by Suharto, Australian extended millions in export credit finance to the regime.

We call for a full parliamentary audit of Australia’s past lending to Indonesia. It is imperative to determine whether funds that are still being repaid by Indonesia to Australia were part of the amounts stolen by former dictator Suharto. Jubilee Australia contends that loans not used to benefit the Indonesian people should be classified as illegitimate and cancelled immediately.

Suharto’s death represents a chance for Indonesia to move forward politically and ideologically from a dark past.  Until now, the people of Indonesia have not been given the chance to seek answers or recompense for the economic and social crimes that were a result of Suharto’s corruption.

Corruption is still a concern for Indonesian citizens today and is subject to strong civil society action. But this should in no way exonerate Australia. On the contrary, in the global flight against corruption, it is critical that Australia take responsibility for its role in supplying funds to a known dictator.