Generals fear `latent danger' of communism threat
Indonesia: The armed forces crack down on dissidents and lay blame for the weekend's unrest on a threat to the New Order
Thursday 01 August 1996
The spectre of communist insurgency in south-east Asia, an increasingly remote threat over the last few years, is alive and well in the minds of Indonesia's generals. Four days after pro-democracy demonstrators rioted and burned buildings in Jakarta, the Indonesian armed forces (Abri) yesterday blamed the disturbances on revolutionary forces of the "old order who want to overthrow the New Order". Soldiers on the streets have been ordered to shoot troublemakers on sight, and at least three activists have been arrested or called in for questioning, in what appears to be a general crackdown on peaceful dissidents.
To diplomats and non-government observers events had until recently seemed fairly straightforward. An increasing number of Indonesians are tiring of the authoritarian 30-year regime of President Suharto. Their frustrations came into focus last month when Megawati Sukarnoputri, the popular leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), one of just two opposition parties tolerated by the government, was peremptorily ousted in favour of a more compliant candidate. Supporters of Mrs Megawati occupied the PDI headquarters and when they were violently evicted last Saturday morning, popular anger overflowed in riots which left at least four dead, hundreds injured or arrested, and a dozen buildings in central Jakarta vandalised.
Since the weekend, however, the Suharto government, and particularly the powerfulAbri, have attempted to place blame for the unrest everywhere but at their own front door. At first, the official line was that the dispute over Mrs Megawati's leadership was an internal matter for the PDI. When 10,000 people took to the streets over the weekend, this became a difficult line to argue. Yesterday, Abri came up with a new scapegoat - a small and relatively obscure organisation called the People's Democratic Party (PRD).
The PRD was founded this month, and its platform, so far as it has developed one, appears mild. At a rare news conference yesterday, Lt-Gen Hamid, Abri's chief of socio-political affairs, read extracts from a document allegedly published by the PRD. It speaks of social democracy and of establishing several political parties, that "actively involve and lead mass movements to achieve democratic society in Indonesia".
"We want change, and we want protest," said Lt-Gen Hamid. "But these aims do not agree with the values we follow in Indonesia. This organisation is similar to the former communist party, part of the old order which wants to overthrow the New Order."
"It's the classic tactic - conjure up this communist threat, and use it as an excuse for a crackdown," said one diplomat who was present at the press conference. "That document they produced was cooked up by the military: they forge them here, on the premises."
On Tuesday Lt-Gen Hamid appeared on national television presenting a bizarre diagram illustrating links between the PRD, Mrs Megawati's PDI, and foreign organisations including Amnesty International and the Australian Labor Party. It also named several individual activists, and Amnesty later issued a statement expressing "serious concern that all these activists are at risk of arrest or intimidation".
Accusations of communist sympathies are a serious business in Indonesia. After an alleged left-wing coup attempt in 1965, some half a million people died in anti-communist pogroms, and the maximum penalty for "subversion" is death. In the eyes of the military at least, the taint of communism transcends the generations: top of the government's current wanted list is Budiman Sudjiatmiko, the chairman of the PRD; among the complaints against him, Lt-Gen Hamid cited the fact that his father was an active member of the communist party.
Newcastle manager taunted again as his side loses to Stoke
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before a character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding: The famous congratulate actor and human rights lawyer after Venice nuptials
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£40 per day + Travel Scheme : Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: Our client ...
NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...