Dita Sari, who is head of the advisory council of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) and also a member of the advisory council of Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggles, spoke to Green Left Weekly during the Latin America and Asia Pacific International Solidarity (LAAPIS) forum, held in Melbourne from October 11-14, about the struggles of Indonesian workers.
Indonesian activists in the National Liberation Party of Unity (PAPERNAS) continue to face government-sponsored thuggery and have appealed for support from Australian activists to help them defend their democratic rights.
In the lead-up to Indonesia’s 2009 elections, a new left party has been formed. The National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) was founded on the basis of three main demands: the cancellation of Indonesia’s foreign debt, the nationalisation of the minerals sector, including oil and gas, and national industrialisation.
Coinciding with the release of a report by Human Rights Watch exposing endemic human rights abuses in West Papua and the refusal to allow a member of the US Congress to visit the province, protests featuring the Morning Star flag were held.
Activists from the Indonesian National Student League for Democracy (LMND) and the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) in the East Kalimantan city of Balikpapan have been the targets of harassment by the local government officials, police and the military (TNI).
Farmers in East Nusa Tenggara have lost 25-40% of their income due to irregular rainfall. Fishers in the Maluku islands are experiencing poor catches as they lose their ability to predict sea climate and fish movements. Climate change has arrived in Indonesia, and it is hitting the country’s poorest first and hardest, according to a survey by Oxfam. Oxfam said that in recent years the rainy season has been either late or so unpredictable farmers did not know when to start planting, resulting in failed harvests and a drastic drop in income, and widespread hunger and malnutrition, especially among children.
Green Left Weekly’s Vannessa Hearman spoke to Agus Jabo, chairperson of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas), in Jakarta about the new party’s campaign plans and its defence against ongoing attacks from right-wing organisations.
As several hundred people gathered in front of the Australian embassy in Jakarta on May 30 screaming “Fuck you Australia” and the mainstream media denounced Australia as “arrogant”, after Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso was asked to testify at the NSW coronial inquiry into the 1975 Balibo killings in East Timor, rights groups expressed a somewhat different view. At a joint press conference in Jakarta on May 31, Indonesia’s NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy (Koalisi LSM) said that Sutiyoso should have been arrested for refusing the summons. According to deputy NSW state coroner Dorelle Pinch, Sutiyoso was allegedly part of Team Susi, one of the Indonesian military units in Balibo when the five Australian-based journalists were murdered. United Nations police, who in 2000 began a formal investigation into the killings, believe that Sutiyoso was one of several officers involved in the attack and other clandestine operations against Portuguese East Timor in 1975. In October of that year, Sutiyoso led an assault on the sleepy coastal town of Batugade in Timor, the first time that Jakarta had occupied and held a foreign town and the precursor to the full-scale invasion two months later.
In the early hours of March 13, the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) regional office in Palu, Central Sulawesi, was attacked by around 30 men. Three Papernas members were hospitalised.
On April 29, the Indonesian National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) again suffered intimidation and disruption of a planned meeting in Sukoharjo, on the outskirts of Solo in Central Java. Members of the Islamic Community Militia prevented the meeting from going ahead by blockading surrounding roads and occupying the venue of the meeting. The district chief of Sukoharjo, Bambang Riyanto, asked Papernas to cancel its meeting, even though the party had obtained the necessary permits.
Tens of thousands of Indonesian workers commemorated May Day across the country demanding an end to contract labour and outsourcing, and for May 1 to be declared a national holiday.
Indonesian police have named two new suspects in the murder of human rights activist Munir, who died of arsenic poisoning on a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on September 7, 2004.
On March 28 and 29, a series of rightist mobilisations took place in Jakarta, including a 500-strong mobilisation aimed at disrupting a march and rally organised by the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas). The Papernas rally was protesting foreign domination of the Indonesian minerals sector and demanding its nationalisation. The right-wing thugs were armed with scythes, knives and canes. This was the fourth time in the last six months that Papernas has been targeted.
Suciwati, the widow of Munir, the prominent Indonesian human rights activist killed by arsenic poisoning aboard a plane in 2004, visited Australia in February to call on the Australian government to help pressure Jakarta to resolve the case. Accompanying her was Usman Hamid, the executive director of Kontras — the Indonesian Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence — an organisation set up by Munir.
On March 4, hundreds of armed right-wing militia, calling themselves the Indonesian Anti-Communist Front (FAKI), attacked the East Java regional conference of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) at Hotel Selekta in Batu City. The same militia group attacked Papernas’s founding national conference in January.
Dita Sari is arguably the most well-known progressive activist in Indonesia today. A former trade union leader and political prisoner under the Suharto regime, she is now the chairperson of the People’s Democratic Party (PRD), which is the leading force in the new, broader National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas). Sari was interviewed in Jakarta by Green Left Weekly’s Peter Boyle after the founding conference of Papernas in January, which selected her as its candidate for the 2009 presidential elections.


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