Lars Akerhaug, Norway
At the same time as the tsunami has ravaged societies and whole nations, the imperialist powers are utilizing the situation to spread their arms over south and south-east Asia. Warmonger Colin Powel sees this situation as a moment to "win the Muslim world". As soon as possible the US empire marched its forces to be deployed in the Indian ocean, where it already has bases and troops to support despotic and cruel governments like the Indonesian terrorist regime and the Arroyo regime of the Philippines (responsible of numerous massacres on workers, peasants and political activists only the recent years).
In Aceh the plans for US dominance comes in the shape of supporting a band of "Islamists", government bands sent to the province of Aceh to suppress its citizens.
One of these groups, the thuggish so-called "Islamic" Defenders Front, is made up of street thugs and minor criminals, was established as a militia by TNI generals on 17 August 1998 to act as a vanguard against Indonesia`s pro-democracy activists, and is clearly in Aceh on their behalf. The parallels to how the US and Filipino government placed the Abu Sayyaf guerilla on the Philippines to fight progressive national-democratic movements and later used this as a pretext to base troops on the islands under the umbrella of "war on terrorism" is striking.
At this point of time, the so-called "international community" keeps a wall of silence on these matters. The US has done nothing to stop the harassments and hindering of journalists and international observers.
It has done nothing to stop the Indonesian army from carrying on their brutalities; it remains silent even over the fact that the GAM has instructed its popular forces not to fire against enemy troops unless fired upon. Western governments do not even run to hide their arms trade with the despotic regime of Indonesia.
Also at the same time, it is clear how imperialist forces, both the US empire and smaller actors like Japan and India will attempt to take advantage of the situation to wipe away local and home-grown industry, and to replace the tourist zones with even more multi-corporate business. Also in Sri Lanka we see attempts to replace local fishermen´s infrastructure with big business.
Imperialism cannot be granted an opportunity to restructure the tsunami stricken areas with its own image of how the world should be. The task of providing solidarity with the ravaged patriotic masses of South and East Asia should be adopted as an immediate task for all progressives.
Int`l officer, Red Electoral Alliance, Norway
(writing in my personal capacity)