US offers condolences on Suharto death

By BEN STOCKING, Associated Press Writer
45 minutes ago

JAKARTA, Indonesia - The U.S. offered its "sincere condolences" on
Sunday on the death of Suharto, a Cold War ally whose 32 years of
brutal rule saw up to a million political opponents killed.

Cameron Hume, the U.S. ambassador in Jakarta, said Suharto was a
close ally who led his country through a period of "remarkable"

"Though there may be some controversy over his legacy, President
Suharto was a historic figure who left a lasting imprint on
Indonesia and the region," Hume said.

Others were less forgiving.

"General Suharto has died in bed and not in jail, escaping justice
for his numerous crimes in East Timor and throughout the Indonesian
archipelago," said the rights group East Timor Action Network.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen of the Netherlands, which colonized
Indonesia for several centuries, called Suharto an "important
political figure" whose rule marked "a period of relative stability"
in Indonesia.

From 1964 to 1965, when Suharto rose to power, between 300,000 and
800,000 alleged communist sympathizers were killed and 300,000 died
in the independence-minded regions of Papau, East Timor and Aceh.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called Suharto an "influential
leader" who presided over the world's fourth most populous country,
and its largest Islamic nation, during critical times.

"Until the catastrophic Asian financial crisis of 1997, he oversaw a
period of significant economic growth and modernization at a time
when Indonesia faced fundamental political, social and economic
challenges," Rudd said.

"The former president was also a controversial figure in respect of
human rights and East Timor and many have disagreed with his
approach," he added.

More than 180,000 people died in East Timor during Indonesia's 1974-
1999 occupation under Suharto.


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