Indonesian young people lead the way

Issue 

Among those called up on August 12 for interrogation in the regime's campaign against the PRD was Pramoedya Ananta Toer (72), Indonesia's great novelist, himself a prisoner of Suharto for 14 years. Pramoedya accepted a human rights award from the PRD on July 22.

Pramoedya told foreign press that he had told his interrogators he considered the riots to be the work of the government. "In 1965 my house was attacked by rock-throwing gangs and my library of 15 years of documents destroyed. The police later arrived. But they arrested me, not those who attacked my house. Just like today."

On August 14, General Syarwal Hamid arrogantly claimed that nobody as young as Budiman, 27, could be the mastermind of everything the PRD has achieved. "There must be an intellectual force behind them", he said.

Pramoedya, on the other hand, explained to his interrogators that in Indonesia young people always led the way. " Every time the people have wanted big change in Indonesia, it has been pioneered by the youth. In the 1920s, when they began the struggle against colonialism, it was young people. Then in 1945. And now — because the people want change again."

In 1945, youth leaders actually kidnapped the hesitating older nationalist leaders, Sukarno and Hatta, to pressure them into making a declaration of independence.

Pramoedya has become internationally renowned for his revolutionary novels exposing the dynamics of colonialism in Indonesia. The four pioneering novels, which have been translated into 43 languages since 1982, are This Earth of Mankind, Child of All Nations, Footsteps and House of Glass. They are published by Penguin books and can be purchased at Resistance bookshops.