Tens of Thousands Protest in Indonesia

Indonesia protest

Workers demand a higher minimum wage and an end to outsourcing as unrest in southeast Asia’s largest economy amplifies.

Al Jazeera, November 22, 2012


Tens of thousands of workers have gathered outside
the presidential palace in Jakarta in Indonesia,
demanding higher wages, better working conditions
and that more economic growth trickle down to the
working class.

The demonstrations on Thursday come a day after a
governor in the capital Jakarta agreed to raise the
minimum wage by 44 per cent but protesters said
they wanted government to provide better health
care and pensions and wanted to ensure that the
courts do not over turn their decision. Continue reading

Indonesia: Ex-political prisoners stage plays to survive stigmatization

[Though this description of the 1965 events and massacre are re-packaged, and carefully cleansed of the CIA role; and the scale of the mass murder was much greater, this article from the Indonesian press does raise the largely unrecognized impact on a million political prisoners from that time, seen through the experience of elderly survivors. — Frontlines ed.]

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Saturday, 06/30/2012

The commemoration of the abortive coup blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) is still a few months away, but former political prisoners always remember Sept. 30, 1965, as the day that changed their lives. Following the attempt, which claimed the lives of six Army generals, the Indonesian Military, with the help of mass organizations, prosecuted anyone thought to have links with the PKI. The precise number of fatalities has been disputed, but some put the number as high as 500,000. Those who survived the massacre lived with the stigma of communism and lost their civil rights. One of them, Nani Nuraini, is now 71 years old.

“Even though we are now aged and frail, we still keep smiling and fighting,” said Nani, who claims she has just been fighting for her rights. At the Central Jakarta District Court in 2008, she won the right to a lifetime identity card just like any other elderly citizen. In April, however, the same court rejected her request for rehabilitation.

She was arrested in 1968 and sent without trial to Bukitduri Women’s Penitentiary in South Jakarta for seven years, simply because, at a young age, she had performed as a presidential palace dancer at the party’s anniversary gathering in June 1965. Nani has lived with the stigma of being an ex-political prisoner and communist sympathizer ever since. Continue reading

Inter-imperialist rivalry in Asia heats up between US and China

Obama and Hu Jintao make nice for public consumption


[This article provides a useful overview of the current state of economic, political and military contention between the US and China in Asia. However, it does not not identify China as an imperialist power in its own right, and it one-sidely portrays the US imperialists as “encircling” China. This makes it impossible to understand the capitalist/imperialist nature of China’s growing economic investments in Asia, as well as China’s development of military ties with Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This not a “defensive” reaction to pressure from US imperialism, but is a calculated strategy of a newly emerged imperialist power that is trying to break into the US’ traditional spheres of influence in Asia, and elsewhere in the world.–Frontlines ed]

World Socialist Web Site, 13 November 2010

US diplomatic offensive tightens strategic encirclement of China

Washington’s aggressive diplomatic campaign in Asia over the past two weeks has amounted, in the words of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to “a full court press” against China, with the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean emerging as potential future theatres of war.

President Barack Obama’s visits to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, and Clinton’s trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, sought to either strengthen existing alliances or create new partnerships for a US-led strategic encirclement of China.

Obama fervently courted India, China’s regional nuclear-armed rival. He urged New Delhi to become a “world power” and backed its bid to become a UN Security Council permanent member. Clinton twice reiterated that Washington could invoke the US-Japan Security Treaty to militarily support Japan against China in the conflict over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. Vietnam announced it was ready to hire out its strategic Cam Ranh Bay port in the South China Sea “to naval ships from all countries”—with Washington the most likely client. Canberra agreed to provide greater US access to its military facilities, especially those in northern Australia. Continue reading

Indonesian students stage protests against Obama’s visit

November 08, 2010

Prior to the visit of U.S. President Barrack Obama to Indonesia, a number of student groups staged demonstrations to protest the visit. 

A group joined by dozens of University of Indonesia (UI) students staged a protest on Monday in the campus premises, opposing Obama’s visit.

The protesters who burned down the United States’ flag called on the government to uphold the country’s dignity, stop bowing to U.S. government foreign policies, the detik.com reported.

“Indonesian government seems like dead already. It always bows to U.S. policies,” one of the student shouted during the protest that was held near the station of trains serving transport for the students to Jakarta’s downtown areas.

The protesters also demanded the government to review the contract of U.S. firm’s exploitation in gold mineral resources mining located in Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua that they said unfair for Indonesia.

UI campus is listed to be one of President Obama’s places to be visited during his two-day visit in Indonesia.

Another group joined by hundreds of students, called themselves as Student Movement for Freedom (Gema Pembebasan), staged a protest in front of U.S. embassy in Jakarta on Friday last week.

They opposed the visit of the leader of the country they regarded “a new colonialist”.

Source: Xinhua

Democracy Now: US ties to special death squads in Indonesia

With Obama in Jakarta, secret documents show US-backed Indonesian Special Forces Unit targets Papuan churches, civilians

President Obama arrived in Indonesia today on the second stop of a ten-day trip to Asia. It’s Obama’s first state visit to Indonesia after having lived there for four years as a child.

We go to Jakarta to speak with investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn, who has just released secret documents from Kopassus—the feared Indonesian special forces—which has been responsible for human rights abuses since the 1950s.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration lifted a 12-year funding ban for the training of Kopassus. While Obama talks about human rights, the documents indicate that Kopassus targets churches and civilians and includes a Kopassus enemies list topped by a local Baptist minister in West Papua. Nairn will continue to release documents on his website AllanNairn.com. Continue reading

US-Chinese rivalry looms over Hillary Clinton’s visit to Vietnam

[The two articles that follow (promoting American interests) paint a detailed picture of the growing rivalry in Southeast Asia between US imperialism and China, which has emerged as an imperialist power in its own right.  While Vietnam like China is a thoroughly capitalist country with a one-party state that masquerades as “communist”, and has been propped up by billions of dollars in foreign investment in all areas of its economy, it is worried about its big northern neighbor.  Now the Vietnamese government is being courted aggressively by the US in order to counter China’s growing economic and military power. This will be a bitter experience for many Vietnamese who experienced the US war that killed upwards of 2 million soldiers and civilians and ravaged their country from 1965-75.  A US-Vietnam alliance may sail into some rough waters in the years ahead.-ed]

US Secretary of State Clinton appearing in Hanoi with Vietnamese general


China’s rise prompts Vietnam to strengthen ties to other nations

Washington Post, October 30, 2010

HANOI – Three weeks ago, an exhibition opened at the Vietnam Military History Museum. On one side of a long hall, the mementos of Vietnam’s 25 years of war against the United States and France – letters of surrender, quotations from Ho Chi Minh, hand grenades and AK-47 rifles – lined the walls. Nothing new there.

But on the other side, the History Museum was actually making history. Along those walls hung daggers, paintings and quotations from Vietnam’s struggle with another rival: imperial China.  Battles dating to 1077, 1258 and the 14th and 18th centuries were featured in intricate detail.

Putting China on a par with “Western aggressors” marks a psychological breakthrough for Vietnam’s military and is troubling news for Beijing. For years, China has tried to forge a special relationship with Vietnam’s Communist government. But China’s rise – and its increasingly aggressive posture toward Vietnam – has alarmed the leadership of this country of 90 million, prompting it to look differently at its neighbor.

Beijing risks losing its status here of a fraternal Communist partner and being relegated to its longtime place as the empire on Vietnam’s northern border that has shaped and bedeviled this country for centuries. That change of perception has led Vietnam to embark on an extraordinary undertaking to befriend the world as a hedge against China. And prominent among its new intimates is the United States, which is equally eager for partners to help it cope with Beijing. Continue reading

Indonesia: Thousands of Adidas workers strike, put up tents in front of factory

Indonesian employees of PT. Panarub Industry, which produce Adidas shoes, during a protest in Jakarta in 2008

Peaceful action of thousands of workers of Panarub Industry was attacked and dispersed by police forces of the city of Tangerang; dozens of workers suffered injuries

This afternoon around 16:30 (2 September 2010), thousands of workers of Panarub Industry who were demonstrating peacefully in front of the factory, were suddenly attacked and dispersed by police forces, using tear gas, firing warning shots and trampling down the demonstrators. As result, dozens of workers were injured, some were taken to the nearest clinic and others were evacuated to other places.

The leadership of SBGTS-GSBI Panarub Industry said that the police were acting brutally without issuing any warning or inviting first the workers to a dialogue. The police, from within the factory, suddenly opened the main gate and directly attacked, insulted and pushed the workers who were on strike. The police also ordered the workers who were inside the factory not to join the strikers. Continue reading

Popular Struggles in Thailand Unnerve Foreign Investors

Politics redraws the investment map in South East Asia

A security guard secures the Stock Exchange of Thailand that was partially burnt during recent clashes in Bangkok

Andrew Marshall, Reuters Asia Political Risk Correspondent – Analysis

SINGAPORE, Fri, May 21 2010

(Reuters) – The investment landscape of Southeast Asia is being transformed. And one key factor above all is driving the tectonic shifts in market perceptions — politics.

Thailand, the archetypal Asian tiger that has long been a favored destination for global conglomerates and emerging markets investors, is increasingly being viewed as the region’s basket case, as chronic political conflict batters its image.

Meanwhile, as protesters paralyzed central Bangkok in a long standoff that exploded into gun battles and arson attacks in the heart of the business district, the Philippines was surprising everyone with the smooth election of a market-friendly president.  “A strong president, restart of infrastructure spending, and a traditional relief rally should provide fuel for the markets,” J.P. Morgan said in a research note after the election.

Indonesia has already experienced a profound shift in how it is viewed by fund managers and multinationals.  A decade ago it was regarded as among the world’s riskiest countries, riven by sectarian and ethnic violence, and crippled by corruption. Even 18 months ago, in the global panic after Lehman Brothers collapsed, investors desperate to lower their risk exposure dumped the rupiah and local stocks.

Continue reading

Shift in US Counter-Insurgency Doctrine


This article was published by A World to Win News Service. The original title is “The Shelving of a Reactionary Military Doctrine.”

11 May 2009. There are increasing signs of a relatively major shift in U.S. military strategy, especially in regard to counterinsurgency.

The clearest is U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates’ recent announcement of the features of a new Pentagon budget that includes cuts in spending on heavy and high tech weapons. While visiting troops in Afghanistan, Gates explained that while half his proposed budget would remain committed to preparing for conventional war against another major power, 40 percent would be weapons that can be used on both conventional and counter-insurgency conflicts, and 10 percent to specialized weapons and other tools useful in counter-insurgency alone. (International Herald Tribune, 11 May 2009)

Gates’ proposed budget emphasizes smaller-scale and more agile weapons and equipment and a reduction in spending for missiles, military satellites, navy vessels and similar items. Particularly noteworthy were  “Gates’ proposed cutbacks in the F-22, the advanced stealth fighter jet that critics call a relic of the cold war, as well as his trimming of the Army’s $160 billion modernization project, called the Future Combat Systems.” (The New York Times, 7 April 2009)

This shift is more significant than just the kind of adjustments to be expected with a change of presidents and other top officials. It is also more than a change in military spending or even of strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan alone. It reflects a change in the kind of wars that the U.S. imperialists expect to wage in the near future and at the same time a summation of the experience of the last few decades. It amounts to a rethinking and reorientation of the American military line. Continue reading

Business is Good for Indonesian Orphanages

Indonesian parents facing poverty give up children


JAKARTA, Indonesia – Thirteen-year-old Yulianto has spent half his life in an orphanage, but not because his parents are dead.  His mom and dad, he quietly explained as he stared at the ground, were too poor to feed him and put him through school. And he longs to leave Parapattan Orphanage in central Jakarta and return to them. “I just want to be with my parents, even if it means I cannot get an education,” he said.

Across Indonesia, there are thousands of children like Yulianto. A major survey of the nation’s child care institutions this month found orphanages flooded with children separated from their parents not by death, but because of poverty.

Staff at four Jakarta orphanages and a child protection worker say they expect more of these children as soaring fuel and food prices put greater pressure on already strained families.

“They were already facing problems and the increase in fuel and food prices will certainly make it more difficult,” said Florence Martin, a Save the Children child protection adviser in Jakarta.

Indonesia has up to 500,000 children – or 0.6 percent of the country’s roughly 85 million children – living in institutions, one of the highest rates in the world, the report said. Of those, 90 percent still have one or more parent alive. Continue reading

Media Manipulation and the Anti-Communist Pogrom of 1965-66

From http://kasamaproject.org

Originally published by Monthly Review. We have posted a previous piece by the MLMRSG on this U.S.-organized atrocity. This history is especially important now when the revolutionary forces in Nepal are more and more directly confronting a Nepal Army that is suspected of considering a U.S.-and-Indian-encouraged coup d’etat.

by Nathaniel Mehr

The Indonesian killings of 1965-66 provide a valuable case study for anyone seeking to understand the techniques with which governments and non-governmental actors manipulate information sources in pursuit of pragmatic and ideological goals.

When the Indonesian army’s strategic reserve crushed an internal army mutiny on 1st October 1965, the reserve’s leader, General Suharto, seized the opportunity to link the mutiny — which had claimed the lives of six leading Generals — to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).  At this point, the PKI was the largest communist party outside the officially communist nations, posing a credible threat to the Indonesian army’s long-standing primacy in Indonesian public life.  Capitalising on reports that the upper echelons of the PKI had endorsed the abortive mutiny, the Indonesian army effected a mobilisation of anti-communist opinion with the single aim of exterminating the PKI once and for all.

The campaign, which did not discriminate between party cadres and the party’s mass membership, culminated in the violent deaths of between 500,000 and a million people, the overwhelming majority of whom were rural peasants who had joined the PKI because of the party’s progressive position on land reform issues.  The massacre removed the PKI as a viable political force in Indonesia, paving the way for Suharto to seize power and install a 32-year dictatorship that became notorious for corruption and human rights abuses. Continue reading