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January 2007

The Papernas Congress is over, a leadership has been elected and has had their first meeting making ready for a year of “all out” political campaigning. Some activists, however, a still paying the cost of fighting off the disruption launched by the group calling itself Front Anti-Kommunis Indonesia (FAKI). One women member, Andi Nurjaya, had to be hospitalized after the stress caused her to miscarriage. In the North Sumatran town of Medan, the local Papernas chairperson is in jail, was detained overnight after protesting the disruption of the Congress. In Malaysia, activists from the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) are still in detention after being taken in at a protest they were holding outside the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

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Avelino da Silva will stand for President in East Timor. I will post an interview with Avelino in a week or so. In the meantime, please check out earlier posts on East Timor and see my articles on the Socialist Party of East Timor in LINKS magazine.

The PRD, the initiating organisation of the recent Papernas Congress (see earlier posts) issued the following basic data on the outcome of the Papernas congress.

"Amidst the violent threat and repressive situation, the foundation congress of Indonesian united party, now officially called PAPERNAS (National Liberation Party of Unity), finally accomplished yesterday, 20th January 2007 at 13 PM in Kaliurang Yogjakarta. We decided to shorten the congress and discussed only the most important topics such as party principle; statue, and national leadership, some other topics such as party program and strategy tactic will be decided by the elected Central Leadership Board (DPP) of PAPERNAS since all the participants from 19 regions already had parallel discussion and made various recommendations. The elected General Chairperson was Agus Jabo Priyono (also the general secretary of PRD) , and the national secretary was Haris Sitorus (also the General Secretary's 2nd Deputy of PRD). Congress also decided three persons which were Dominggus Octavianus (the former chairperson of Preparatory Committee of PAPERNAS and the chairperson of FNPBI); Marlo Sitompul (the general chairperson of Urban Poor People Union/SRMK); and Wiwik Wijanarko (Organisation Dept of National Peasant Union/STN), to work together with the elected general chairperson and national secretary to elect the executive committee of the PAPERNAS.

The congress were participated by 320 full participants, 50 organizing committee, 5 foreign observers, and 3 domestic observers."

For other material on the Papernas congress click: PAPERNAS

(NOTE: a version of this article has also appeared in Green Left Weekly).

Around 200 pick-up trucks and cars comprised a long snake of a protest caravan making its way along Jakarta’s main thoroughfare, Jalan Thamrin, after a rally outside the Presidential Palace where various speakers called on the people to “withdraw the mandate” of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The occasion for the protest was the anniversary of the mass protests and riots against the Suharto government that took place on January 15, 1974. The protest was initiated by Hariman Siregar, the central leader of the 1974 protests, chairperson at the time of the University of Indonesia Students Council. Siregar was arrested at the time, put on trial and sentenced to eight years prison. He has remained a figure associated with the student and democratic movements, though sometimes also involved in alliances and maneuvers with figures close to the power centre. He was close to B.J. Habibie during the latter years of Suharto and was advisor briefly to former General Wiranto in the lead-up to the 2004 elections. (For a recent interview with Hariman Siregar click here.

Papernas Press Conference.JPG
Papernas press conference - see below. From Left to RIght: Ulil, PRD member; Lukman Hakim, PRD Central Council member and Secretary General of the KP-Papernas; Domingus Oktavianus, Chairperson of KP-Papernas, Central Council member of PRD and Agus Jabo, elected Chairperson of PAPERNAS at Congress, also Secretary-General of PRD.

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Almost nine years since the fall of the dictator Suharto, one word continues to dominate discussions of the widespread social discontent in Indonesia: “fragmentation”.
The mass movement that forced Suharto out of power, spearheaded by elements from the radical wing of the worker and student sectors, re-won mass action and political mobilisation as legitimate political activity after 33 years of enforced passivity under the policy of “floating mass”. As a consequence, since 1998 when Suharto was ousted, social protest in the form of strikes, demonstrations, rallies and public meetings have become a daily phenomenon in Indonesia. However, they remain small and ad hoc, mostly only taking place at the site of grievance, unaffiliated to any political bloc and not part of any national political movement. There are hundreds, or possibly even thousands, of local ad hoc protest groups operating at any one time.

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