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Indonesian thugs threaten left party

By Alan Maass | March 9, 2007 | Page 2

A LEFT-wing party in Indonesia was appealing for international solidarity after its regional conference was besieged by a right-wing militia as Socialist Worker went to press.

According to a report from a member of the National Liberation Party of Unity, or PAPERNAS, that was circulated by Australian socialists, some 100 militia members broke into a party conference in East Java, leading to fighting with conference participants. Dita Sari, probably Indonesia's best-known radical leader and PAPERNAS's candidate in the next presidential election, was at the meeting and personally appealed for support.

Conference organizers say they followed all the complicated procedures required to hold the conference, so it should have been protected by police. But in a repeat of previous confrontations, the police stood aside while the right-wingers menaced attendees.

The Indonesian Anti-Communist Front (FAKI) turned up at PAPERNAS's founding conference in January and demanded that the meeting disperse. The congress kept to its schedule, electing a leadership and preparing for a year of "all-out campaigning"--but under constant threat of attack by FAKI members armed with knives and other weapons. The atmosphere of stress was so grave that one participant who was pregnant suffered a miscarriage.

What you can do

PAPERNAS members are asking for messages of protest to be faxed to the East Java police headquarters at 011-62-217218141 and text or phone messages to Chief of Police Gen. Sutanto at 011-62-818315703. Send copies of messages to: [email protected].

 

PAPERNAS unites a number of the left-wing forces involved in the uprising that toppled the dictator Gen. Suharto in 1998--chief among them, the People's Democratic Party, which Sari is chairperson of.

This new effort at unity on the left has brought together activists in about 100 cities and towns around a program of nationalizing Indonesia's oil and gas industry, and cancellation of the foreign debt.

Though the party has not yet met strict, undemocratic requirements to take part in elections, Indonesia's right wing--with its historic ties to the military--has clearly taken notice of a new threat to its dominance. When PAPERNAS meetings have not been menaced by FAKI thugs, attendees face the threat of police repression.

As a statement from PAPERNAS leaders issued during the siege reads: "We call on all members and supporters of Papernas from the national level down to the grassroots not to retreat, but rather to continue political work with the people with even more spirit. This situation demonstrates that the political choice that we have taken has generated a reaction from those who are against the ideals of sovereignty for the people and the nation of Indonesia to become a reality.

"We would also like to convey a request for solidarity form our sisters and brothers in Indonesia and overseas that also defend democracy and the same ideals, to lodge protest over this incident with the Indonesian government and the national police."

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