Protesters arrested in Indonesia


By Max Lane

In the last week at least 20 people have either been jailed, detained or interrogated in connection with the circulation of a calendar in Central Java.

The calendar, in the form of a wall poster, illustrates the struggles of peasant farmers who have been forced from their land and the violent reaction of the military authorities.

The calendar was sponsored by organisations including INFIGHT (Indonesian Front for the Defence of Human Rights), SKEPHI (the national forest conservation network), the Centre for Human Rights Information and Studies, the Student Movement Committee for the Indonesian People, the Institute for the Defence of Human Rights, the Yogyakarta Women's Discussion Forum, Bandung Legal Aid Institute, Indonesian Women's Awakening Group, and the Institute for the Study of Social Rights.

As well as depicting the struggles of the peasants, the poster also reveals the role of institutions such as the World Bank and the governments of Indonesia's Western creditors.

Perhaps most upsetting to the authorities are cutting caricatures of figures remarkably like leading national political leaders and their wives lording it over the ordinary people.

Responding to the arrests and harassment, INFIGHT asked why this socially conscious calendar was being attacked by the authorities when so many calendars demeaning to women are allowed to circulate without hindrance.

Similar views were expressed by SKEPHI and the Yogyakarta Women's Forum Group.

Meanwhile, in Bali on March 12, 40 students, including six from East Timor, were taken away by the military following a demonstration against aspects of the local university's financial administration.

The demonstrators were not cowed by the fact that the campus was ringed by police and army personnel. The army eventually moved in and as of the morning of March 14, 40 students were still in jail.