Locke questions NZ attendance at funeral of military dictator

Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke has questioned why, when the Prime Minister decided not to sign a condolence book, New Zealand was officially represented at former Indonesian President Suharto’s funeral.

“The former President was one of the biggest mass murderers of our time,” said Mr Locke.

“At least 500,000 people were slaughtered when Suharto seized power in 1965. He was later responsible for the deaths of 200,000 people in East Timor and over 100,000 people in West Papua, Aceh and elsewhere in Indonesia.

“It was insulting to the memory of these victims that our Ambassador in Indonesia, Phillip Gibson, chose to attend Suharto’s funeral.

“By contrast, many ordinary Indonesians will support the Prime Minister’s refusal to sign the condolence book, as do I.

“President Suharto was also one of the world’s leading kleptocrats. He stole billions of dollars from the Indonesian people. When he died the government was trying to get a court order for the return of $US1.6 billion in stolen assets.

“One local NGO, Indonesian Corruption Watch, criticized President Yudhoyono for abandoning a Bali conference on international corruption to attend Suharto’s funeral.

Ambassador Gibson’s attendance at the funeral is reported at news.com.au: