Goodbye and good riddance to former Indonesian president Suharto, who seized power from the dictator Sukarno before embarking on his own career of repression. Another dead dictator for whom one almost wishes the idea of hell had some meaning. Chris Rossdale for one is enraged at the soft-soaping done by the official obituaries such as this obscene apologia from the BBC of a man in the top twenty of the last century's murderers. Says Chris:
You wouldn’t expect an article on Hitler, or Stalin, or Saddam Hussein, to start off by talking about his good economic record, and then mention ‘human rights abuses’. It would start by rightly condemning them as mass murderers. Suharto is a mass murderer, who killed somewhere between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people. The fact that he did most of this with Western support is to our shame, that it is not regarded as one of the worst atrocities of the post WW2 era is embarrassing.
Australian John Quiggin agrees, and sees signs of hope in post-Suharto Indonesia:
I don’t imagine many readers will be shedding tears at the death of former Indonesian dictator Suharto, and certainly I won’t be. The bloody massacres in which he rode to power amid the collapse of the Sukarno regime, and the brutal invasion and occupation of East Timor, not to mention his spectacular corruption, mark him down among the worst political criminals of a terrible century, and have coloured Australian attitudes to Indonesia in the decade since his fall from power.
Now that he’s gone, I hope Australians will begin to recognise the immense progress Indonesia has made against daunting odds...
Read on to see if you agree.