Indonesian activists call for military withdrawal

Issue 

By Max Lane On November 12, public protest commemorations of the 1991 massacre in Dili were organised for the first time in Jakarta despite threats from General Hartono, the army chief of staff. About 90 people attended a commemoration organised by Indonesian People in Solidarity with the Maubere People (SPRIM) on the University of Indonesia campus. Also at the commemoration was the chairperson of the Peoples Democratic Union (PRD) and Haji Princen, director of the Institute for the Defence of Human Rights. Under the banner, full independence for East Timor, SPRIM and PRD both called for the immediate end of all warfare, the withdrawal of all Indonesian military forces, including police, from East Timor and the right for the East Timorese for self-determination. In accord with the appeal by the Asia Pacific Coalition on East Timor, the commemoration included a candle lighting ceremony in memory of the 300 people who died at the Santa Cruz ceremony in 1991. SPRIM, coordinator, Wilson, began the ceremony with all other participants also joining in lighting candles. A highlight of the ceremony was the graphic description of Dili massacre by a Maubere youth who had been wounded there. During the speeches, plain clothes intelligence agents approached the gathering and demanded copies of all the statements and speeches. Statements were read out by Haji Princen, Dita Sari, President of the Indonesian Centre for Working Class Struggle (PPBI), Petrus, secretary-general of Students in Solidarity with Democracy in Indonesia (SMID) and a representative of the National Peasants Union. The well-known dissident poet and dramatist, Wiji Thukul, read anti-militarist poems and a statement on behalf of artist members of SPRIM. After a presentation of recent SPRIM publications to an East Timorese representative, the commemoration ended with people marching out of the campus singing "We Shall Overcome" and "For You, the People". Later, 30 student members and supporters of PIJAR (Centre for Democratic Action and Reform) held a 30-minute candle lighting ceremony in central Jakarta. They too demanded that the Indonesian military withdraw from East Timor and that the conflict be resolved under United Nations' auspices. The ceremony ended with the singing of "For You, My Country".

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