(The following article was published in "The Guardian", newspaper
of the Socialist Party of Australia in its issue of Wednesday,
June 26th, 1996. Contact address: 65 Campbell Street, Surry Hills.
Sydney. 2010 Australia. Fax: 612 281 5795. Email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subscription rates on request)
"The whole people are very angry. You can ask them all. Ask them all! All are angry because they are very rough. They are rough to us, without mercy. These young people are for democracy. They are very poor people."
These are the words of an Indonesian interviewed on the streets of Jakarta by a BBC reporter last week-end when the Indonesian military violently overran the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) occupied by the supporters of the Party's chairperson, Megawati Sukarnoputri.
The BBC reporter, Jonathan Head went on:
"Indonesians are very hungry for change now. They've had the same government for thirty years. There are a lot of issues that are very annoying to them, issues like government corruption, the gap between rich and poor as the country develops, and Megawati has become a symbol of their hopes for change.
"This became a threat to the government so they found a way to unseat her. The government still regulates all the parties. Her leadership wasn't good enough (for the government, so) they got her out. But the people around her simply haven't tolerated that. They occupied the headquarters and refused to move."
Jonathan Head continued: "You hear a lot of young people around who've simply joined it and they are taking out their frustrations. When I saw people earlier today, they were really angry. They were saying to the army: 'Look, you are our army, you should be on our side. You shouldn't be breaking into the headqyuarters of the Democratic Party run by a very popular woman and storming it in this way.'"
The BBC commentary graphically catches the truth of the popular outpourings of the Indonesia people against the Suharto military dictatorship that came to power in a bloody coup in 1965 in which an estimated half a million people were massacred.
The Suharto dictatorship has continued its bloody rampage against the people of East Timor, West Papua, against striking workers and, now, against the emerging opposition represented by the Magawati led PDI.
Another eye-witness reports: "Tens of thousands of people are out on the streets, protesting against the assault on the PDI office" and that the houses of PDI leaders have been surrounded (by the police and army) to prevent them from leaving their homes and making contact with the masses of people on the streets.
Ever since the Suharto regime moved to unseat Megawati as leader of the PDI by organising a puppet break-away conference, Megawati and other PDI leaders have been holding public forums outside their office, similar to those held by Aung Sun Suu Kyi in Rangoon, Burma.
The difference is, however, that the Australian government and the mass media, in another exercise in hypocrisy, have not reported a word of these public meetings. Both the government and the media support the bloody Suharto dictatorship rather than the rising democracy movement in Indonesia.
Megawati is the daughter of Indonesia's former President Sukarno, who became a national hero for his role in the struggle to liberate Indonesia from Dutch colonialism. President Sukarno was deposed by the dictator Suharto following the 1965 coup.
While the Indonesian government has reported "officially" that only two people were killed in the army assualt the Sydney Morning Herald reported 48 dead and hundreds wounded and arrested.
The Indonesian government has attempted to impose a news blackout in Indonesia itself. Media Indonesia printed a front-page announcement calling on all Indonesian news organisations not to report the activities of the PDI.
The secretary of the Alliance of Independent Journalists says that the blackout is the result of government pressure on local news organisations.
Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has failed to support the Indonesian democratic movement although loud in support of Aung Sun Suu Kyi in Burma. Only six months ago, former Prime Minister Keating made a pact with the neo-fascist Indonesian government. The agreement has been supported by the Coalition government. It is primarily a military pact and the Australian government has continued to supply arms to Indonesia and train the military forces reponsible for the oppression in East Timor, West Papua, and now against their own people.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Downer has recently attempted to close the case of the five Australian journalists killed by the Indonesian military when the invasion of East Timor took place in 1975.
His weak stand follows the refusal of the Indonesian government to make any further inquiries into the circumstances of their deaths.
The Indonesian Human Rights Campaign has called for protests to be sent to the Indonesian government against their suppression of the public forums being held by the PDI and now, the storming of the office of the PDI. These actions are violations of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 38 of Indonesia's Constitution which recognise the right to freedom of expression.
Send protests to:
General Faisal Tanjung, Commander-in-chief Indonesian Armed Forces.
Fax: 0011-62-21-364 926.
Major-General Hamami Nata, Chief of Police for Jakarta.
Fax: 0011-62-21-570 9261.
Phone: (02) 212.6855
65 Campbell Street
Surry Hills. 2010
Fax: (02) 281.5795
Phone: (02) 212.6855