Indonesian political prisoner speaks out

August 6, 1998


Indonesian political prisoner speaks out

JAKARTA — The following interview with a People's Democratic Party (PRD) leader, ANOM, was conducted by JANET PARKER on July 19. The questions and answers were smuggled in and out of Cipinang Prison. Anom has been imprisoned since September 1996.

Question: Why has the government released political figures like Sri Bintang Pamungkas and Muchtar Pakpahan, but not members of the PRD or the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), or East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao?

The government does not release political prisoners on the basis of respect for human rights. The basis for release is the need to make a show of respect for human rights. They will not release those considered a potential threat to the still intact structure of the New Order regime.

The government considers the PRD and PKI not only as political opponents, but as an ideological enemy. The government will not release those who advocate revolutionary change to capitalist social structures.

Habibie's government does not have any interest in giving full political freedom to the people. We are absolutely sure the military is behind this political discrimination.

This institution still holds the decisive power in Indonesian politics. And Habibie still needs the military's support to cope with the opposition's challenge to his right to rule and to prevent the ongoing reform changing into revolution.

Question: How do you view the political situation after Suharto, and what is the PRD's approach to it?

The situation will be dominated by two political factors. On one side, there is a radical and revolutionary dynamic generated by people's action.

Using their committees, people are grabbing political freedom and meeting face to face the repressive power of the military. They move to repossess productive means that have been monopolised all this time by Suharto and his cronies. They are also demanding the resignation of corrupt local authorities.

On the other side, there is a process to limit reform to "constitutional reform". The special assembly scheduled for November is designed to legitimise Habibie without charging Suharto as politically responsible for the crisis. This special assembly functions as a stumbling block to the social transformation.

The PRD prefers the first dynamic as the resistance strategy to transform society as a whole.

Question: Can the IMF play a decisive role in solving the economic crisis?

The government's decision to apply for IMF funds to solve the economic crisis has basically thrown Indonesian politics under the domination of foreign capitalists.

IMF is an institution that represents the interests of imperialism. That means that every donation the IMF gives to any country always carries certain objectives. IMF funds are not charity.

Just look at the conditions in exchange for the $40 billion package for Indonesia. Those conditions have given us a clear picture that the interests of the big capitalist countries will penetrate and dominate Indonesia's economy.

The big foreign capitalists will take over control of national economic assets from the national bourgeoisie. Foreign capital will be fully active. State-controlled companies will be privatised by foreign entrepreneurs. Indonesia's repressive economic structure will also change hands, from national bourgeoisie to international ones.

The conditions requested by the IMF, such as the restructuring of companies, have sparked mass dismissals from factories. Also, the rule to end subsidies has lowered the purchasing power of Indonesian people; they can't afford their most basic needs.

The Indonesian budget problem doesn't need to be solved by asking for IMF help. In the short term, one of the alternative solutions is to confiscate Suharto's fortune, and that goes for his cronies also. This can yield a much bigger amount than the IMF can offer.

The aim should not be just to return Indonesia to last year's economic prowess. What is much more important is to change the economic structure as a whole.

Firstly, we must overthrow the old political and social structure, confiscating Suharto's fortune, then charge him for all his crimes. Only people's power can do this.

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