By Greg Adamson
MELBOURNE — A campaign for the release of students imprisoned in Indonesia was one of several national campaigns launched at a conference held here over the weekend of September 21-22.
Around 70 people attended the first national conference of the Indonesian solidarity group Aksi. Aksi committee members from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide attended. Brisbane and Perth were also represented, although groups are yet to be established.
In addition to informational reports, workshop sessions, a cultural evening and slide shows, much of the weekend was devoted to planning action for the coming year. The following campaigns were initiated:
- Free the imprisoned students. Students are currently imprisoned in Jakarta and Yogyakarta for such crimes as participating in discussion groups and distributing books by banned writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Students imprisoned in Bandung have also just been released.
- Stop the destruction on Siberut. The island of Siberut off Sumatra is facing complete cultural and ecological devastation caused by logging, transmigration and palm oil plantations. If not stopped, this devastation will be complete in just a few months.
- Against destructive tourist development. In Bali, Lombok and elsewhere, communities are being driven from their land to make way for developments such as seaside resorts and golf courses. This campaign will publicise these events and encourage Australian tourists to visit Indonesia with their eyes open.
- Build links with Indonesian trade unions. In recent months tens of thousands of workers have taken industrial action against appalling working conditions which they suffer. Many of their employers are Australian companies, so the Australian trade union movement has an opportunity and obligation to give support to the diverse new and independent trade unions which are emerging.
- Admit West Papuan refugees. Indonesia continues to occupy West Papua (Irian Jaya). Today the area's original inhabitants are outnumbered by "transmigrants" from other Indonesian islands. The perspective of the government is to rapidly destroy the forests and exploit the mining resources and land. Those who take a stand against this continuing invasion are brutally suppressed, but the Australian government refuses to grant refugee status to those who
- Expose Australian business activities. Australian companies are among those involved in the worst aspects of what is happening in Indonesia today.
In addition, Aksi groups will continue to work closely with East Timorese solidarity groups and others in a campaign for a negotiated settlement to the crisis there. Individual committees also took responsibility for a range of other issues including opposition to destructive hydro-electric projects, and against a huge planned investment in nuclear power. The groups will continue to strengthen their collaboration and to publish a regular national bulletin.