Australian socialists demand: 'End support for Indonesian dictatorship!'



Australian socialists demand: 'End support for Indonesian dictatorship!'

The following is abridged from a statement issued on May 16 by the Democratic Socialist Party.


1. The Suharto regime did imperialism's dirty work for 33 years. Now that the regime's ability to deliver “stability” and guarantee unhindered exploitation of Indonesia's people and natural resources is in increasing doubt, the imperialist governments are scrambling to ensure that any change of government that might occur does not prejudice their interests.

2. Even the Australian government is beginning to hint that it would support a new government, as long as that government guaranteed capitalist stability and the right of imperialist corporations to continue their exploitation of Indonesia.

On May 15, PM John Howard declared that Australia's relationship with Indonesia was “important beyond the tenure in office of any particular individuals”. Labor opposition leader Kim Beazley is also trying to shift his stand, urging the Suharto government to speed up its leadership transition plans.

What hypocrisy! Australian governments, Liberal-National and Labor have been thoroughly complicit in propping up the bloody Suharto dictatorship.

3. Australian corporations have long pinned more of their greedy hopes for future investment in, and trade with Indonesia and south-east Asia on close business, diplomatic and military collaboration with the Suharto regime.

Australia's position as a small imperialist power has motivated it to seek to gain an advantage over its international competitors through its special relationship with Jakarta. This is why Australian governments — Liberal-National and Labor — went along with:

  • the massacre of up to 2 million leftists and alleged leftists in Indonesia in 1965-66;
  • the bloody repression of the West Papuan and Acehnese people;
  • the brutal invasion of East Timor, resulting in 200,000 deaths; and
  • the most severe repression against anyone who voiced the slightest dissent in Indonesia over the last three decades.
All this was claimed to be in Australia's “national interest”.

4. Now that Suharto's rule is being seriously challenged by a growing popular movement for democracy, Australian imperialism is beginning to consider shifting from its blanket support for Suharto. Writing in the Financial Review of May 16-17, Peter Hartcher explained bluntly:

“Australia supported the Suharto regime ... because the regime could guarantee stability. For that reason alone, Australia was able to justify a policy that eschewed all morality for the sake of grand strategy ... But some time in the last six months Suharto crossed an invisible threshold ... the regime became a guarantee of instability.”

5. While the Howard government has begun to shift its rhetoric subtly in recent days, it hasn't made one concrete step towards ending its financial, military and diplomatic aid to the regime.

That's why the DSP has joined a growing number of Australian groups and individuals in calling for an immediate withdrawal of this support for the dictatorship. The first duty of progressive forces in Australia is to fight their own imperialist government and hinder its ability to interfere in the growing struggle for democracy in Indonesia.

6. The Sydney Morning Herald editorialised on May 15 in favour of a new Indonesian government of “national unity”, comprising prominent Indonesian opposition leaders, Megawati and Amien Rais, military chief General Wiranto and elements of the present Suharto cabinet.

Such a government would be a sham. It would be the Suharto dictatorship without Suharto as its formal head. The participating opposition figures would be mere window dressing, captives of the military regime and the corrupt Suharto crony network that dominates the domestically owned section of the Indonesian economy.

In Australia, many of the academics and other experts who made their living advising Australian governments on how to cosy up to Suharto are now shamelessly hailing the possibility of some sort of alliance between the opposition and the Indonesian military.

7. The DSP supports the call by the People's Democratic Party (PRD), the most resolute and far-sighted of the new Indonesian opposition organisations, and other militant activists in the Indonesian opposition, for no collaboration with the military.

8. The DSP also supports the PRD's call for the formation of an independent people's council to replace Suharto's undemocratic parliament and the rigged People's Consultative Assembly.

9. The DSP also supports the PRD's call for Suharto to be arrested by the Indonesian people and his economic assets, and those of his cronies, nationalised. The proceeds from this nationalisation could be used to address the economic crisis in favour of the majority of Indonesians.

10. The DSP also joins the PRD in rejecting the IMF restructuring program forced on Indonesia in the context of the Asian economic crisis. The IMF is a tool of the imperialist powers and a mortal enemy of the Indonesian people, and workers and small farmers around the world. The IMF chiefly seeks to rescue imperialist loans and direct investments in Asia. The IMF program seeks to shift the burden of the crisis, which is a crisis of the world capitalist system, on to the backs of the Indonesian masses.

11. The DSP pledges to step up its support for the Indonesian masses in revolt, building solidarity in Australia and internationally, and collecting material assistance for this people's movement.

12. The DSP calls on the trade unions, the student movement, churches, other civil and human rights organisations, and all supporters of democracy to come behind a campaign to:

  • force the Australian government to end all its support for the New Order dictatorship;
  • pressure the Indonesian government to release all political prisoners, abolish all repressive laws and end the involvement of the military in civil affairs, as a precondition to holding fair and free elections for a new government.