Indonesian student leader in Australia

April 8, 1998

By Sue Bull

CANBERRA — On April 3, representatives from ACT universities and the National Tertiary Education and Industry Union joined Sutarji, a student leader from Indonesia recently arrived in Australia, to condemn the arrest and disappearance of Indonesian democracy activists. The Australian Education Union sent a solidarity message.

Sutarji, a representative of the banned People's Democratic Party, spoke of the fears of many in Indonesia that the recent crackdown may mark a return to the repression of 1965. He said people were afraid, but still resisting.

He explained how politically conscious activists are trying to focus the protests on Suharto and building unity against his corrupt system, and away from Chinese shop owners.

Sutarji called on the Howard government to plead for the release of Indonesia's political prisoners rather than give aid to the corrupt regime. Harry Greenwell, president of the ANU Students' Association, and Peter Davidson, industrial organiser with the NTEU, echoed Sutarji's call.

Greenwell said Australian students need to support Indonesian students and "adopt" individual prisoners. He said the Australian government must cease military ties with Indonesia.

David Gosling from Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor explained that more international pressure will reduce the possibility of the death penalty being imposed on political prisoners.

A national demonstration will be held outside Parliament House on April 24. Phone (02) 6247 2424 for details.

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