Indonesian resistance continues despite crackdown

October 16, 1996

On October 9, the Suharto dictatorship began the trials of 60 people arrested during rioting in Jakarta on July 27. At least another 60 are due to be put on trial shortly, along with 24 leaders and members of the People's Democratic Party (PRD) and union leader Muchtar Pakpahan.

Also on trial, in Bandung, is a student activist from ALDERA (People's Democratic Alliance) charged with striking a police officer.

The dictatorship continues to focus its attack on the PRD. During the last two weeks, a mini-series has been broadcast on all TV stations depicting "left-wing" students manipulating workers and more innocent students into anti-government activity. The students are depicted as being themselves manipulated by shadowy communist figures.

Billboards have been erected around the country warning the population of the danger of "latent communism". The PRD has been added to the list of the "enemies of the nation" in primary and high school curriculums.

PRD leaders Budiman Sujatmiko, Dita Sari and 22 others remain unable to study the legal documentation related to the charges against them. Their lawyers are forbidden to leave any documents with the prisoners.

PRD leader J. Kurniawan has been moved to hospital as a result of torture. PRD executive member and former SMID chair Munif Laredo was released, dumped outside the small West Javanese town of Sukabumi. Laredo was detained several weeks ago; it appears he was not held at the attorney general's remand centre with Budiman and the others but kept at Military Intelligence headquarters for illegal interrogation.

On October 1, SMID organised an open forum at the Santa Dharma Teachers College in Yogyakarta. PRD Central Java chairperson Ismael explained that the forum was held to demand the re-establishment of student representative councils, which are banned, further funding for the education sector and the lowering of tertiary education fees.

Ismael confirmed that the PRD's mass organisation had resumed their normal organising activities after a period of consolidation following the crackdown. "We have to show the people that we are not afraid, even if we have to face the prospect of death." The PRD has started circulating new publications to counter the regime's propaganda.

In the big port city of Makassar on Sulawesi, on October 3 a new political party was formed, called Pro-Democracy Student Party (PMPD). PMPD spokesperson Parno said that the PMPD would base itself on acceptance of the current Constitution and the Panca Sila state ideology, and would focus on the central demand for the repeal of the five 1985 laws which limit recognised political parties to three, ban politics in the villages, guarantee the army 100 parliamentary seats and give the government ultimate control over social and cultural organisations.

Spontaneous strikes have continued in Java's industrial areas. At the Mercuprima Textile factory in Tangerang outside Jakarta, 1400 workers have been on strike on and off since September 17, demanding the payment of their agreed bonuses as well as health and safety insurance. Thousands of primary school teachers have carried out protests against deductions from their salary by the Department of Education.