Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2960

Who’s afraid of Gareth Evans?

By Gomin Dayasri

Gareth Evans,the former Foreign minister of Australia has received coverage in Sri Lanka after he threatened international intervention should the Security Forces move to disarm Prabhakaran.

A man with an international reputation, Gareth Evans, played a significant role in the affairs of Indonesia and Cambodia in the Asian context.

Gareth Evans as the head of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group down played the threats of the another potent terrorist organization operating in Indonesia, Jemaah Islamiyah. In a lecture to a university audience he stated

“As to the specific risk posed by terrorist groups operating in and from Indonesia…[the International] Crisis Group’s perception is that the Jemmah Islamiyah regional division that covered Australia has been effectively smashed by Indonesian police and intelligence operations (well supported by Australian agencies) and that JI no longer poses a serious threat in Indonesia or elsewhere”.(source: Review of International Social Questions- RISQ>)

Three days later three allegedly JI or its splinter group operatives exploded three bombs in Bali strapped to their chest in restaurants frequented by tourists, killing 23 and wounding 125 including Australians in October 2005

Gareth Evans made this pronouncement notwithstanding US Embassy in Jakarta having issued a valid terror alert and the President of Indonesia having warned of a probable terrorist attack in September or October 2005.

Evans supported the administration President Suharto of Indonesia who had a record of invading East Timor and in ethnic cleansing and wiping out 200000 East Timorese.

It was Evans contention “the human rights situation {in East Timor} has in our judgment conspicuously improved, presently under the present military arrangement.

Nine months later the Indonesian military massacred large number of people in the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili. Evans dismissed the missing as -“they might have simply gone bush”. {Sydney Morning Herald December 28,30 1991}

The celebrated independent journalist John Pilger in his book “Hidden Agendas” states Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans in his book “Cooperating for Peace” makes no reference to the genocide in East Timor though written after the Indonesian massacre of East Timorese in Dili in 1991.This was described by Evans as ‘an aberration, not an act of state policy”{Mark Aarons and Robert Domm !992- East Timor,A Western Made Tragedy}

It is necessary to note that Prime Minister Keating and Foreign Minister Evans had attacked the credibility of John Pilger.

When President Suharto appointed a special commission of inquiry Evans congratulated the Jakarta regime for such a positive and helpful reaction and expressed the view that he was reasonably happy with the Commissions findings which was strenuously challenged by Amnesty.

According to Pilger, on Evans recommendation, Ali Atatas Jakarta’s Foreign Minister and the principal apologist for the massacre was awarded the Order of Australia, the highest honor of the country.

Suharto Rule in Indonesia, was supported by Evans, now legendry for atrocities and human rights violations.

The Foreign Ministers Gareth Evans (Australia) and Al Alatas (Indonesia) celebrated the signing of the Timor Gap Treaty with a champagne diet on board a plane as captured in the film, Death of a Nation (Distant Voices - John Pilger); which allowed and International oil companies to exploit the sea bed off East Timor yielding possibly 7 billion barrels of oil. In the words of Gareth Evans “zillions of dollars”. Indonesia News Feb 1991.

In fact within two months of the massacre the joint Australian –Indonesian Board overseeing the exploitation of the Timor Gap awarded 11 contracts to Australian oil and gas companies. When protestors placed crosses opposite the Indonesian Embassy in Australia, Gareth Evans had them removed. When a federal court ordered them restored as Evans had acted in excess of his powers per the regulations, he caused to have the regulations changed.

John Pilger in his book Distant Voices refers to the UN peace plan for Cambodia and the dominant role played by Gareth Evans. According to Pilger it gave Pol Pot and the dreaded Khemer Rouge immunity from prosecution for the acts of genocide inflicted on the Cambodian people.

Source material; John Pilger- Hidden Agendas and Distant Voices

Gomin Dayasri is a leading Sri Lankan lawyer

- Asian Tribune -

Share this