Ternate – The group 20 Years of Reformasi, Win Freedom, Equality and Prosperity Committee (Komitmen) held a campaign action commemorating 20 years of reformasi in front of the Gamalama Market in the North Maluku city of Ternate on Monday May 21.
Despite being held in the middle of the Ramadan, it did not diminish their spirit with the group claiming that the holy fasting month does not mean not fighting but in fact should be the crown of struggle against the anti-people regime.
The month of May is a month of resistance when in Indonesia’s history hundreds of thousands of millions of people spilled into the streets to bring down the New Order dictatorship of former president Suharto, a militaristic and repressive regime.
To this day, there has never been any justice for the gross human rights violations committed by the New Order regime.
“We have never forgotten the 1965-66 affair when millions of ordinary people were systematically slaughtered, thousands of people were put into forced labour camps, tortured, sexually abused and raped. And what has happened is that the current administration of President Joko Widodo has refused to address or let alone take responsibility for this historical stain”, said action coordinator Ajo in front of the Gamalama Market on Monday.
The 1965 affair was the entry point for all manner of state violence and became the basis for the legitimisation of state violence against the people. And none of this has, to this day, been resolved. Justice is trampled on even after 20 years of reformasi, referring to the process of political reform which began with the resignation of Suharto in 1998.
Today, 20 years of reformasi has not created more prosperity or justice for the ordinary people but has instead thrown them into a chasm of suffering and misery.
This is shown by the widespread agrarian conflicts all over the country, the mass dismissal of workers, the enactment of Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages, sexual harassment and violence against women, racism against the people of West Papua and the widespread criminalisation and abduction of activists.
On the other hand, while the New Order put civilian life under the rule of the military, the current regime is still reluctant to return the military to the barracks which is continuously intervening in civil rights as legitimised by Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) between the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (National Police) which result in muzzling democracy.
“We reject all legislation or Perppu [Regulations in lieu of Law] which provide space for the return of the military’s dual social and political function [dwi fungsi], and strongly condemn efforts to strengthen militarism in civilian life, because this threatens democracy for the Indonesian people and all of the activists fighting for democracy and the people’s welfare”, asserted Isra Muhlis, one of the participants at the demonstration.
In addition to slaughtering the people and the militarisation of civilian life, there has been widespread criminalisation of minority groups such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with the draft Criminal Code even proposing making consensual sex between adults a crime.
“[Alternative] sexual orientation is not something new, they exist because of the dynamics of culture, and because of this, aside from disagreeing with the attacks against them, we must also be wise by not accepting abuse, harassment and discrimination against them, particularly relinquishing their political rights continuing to be part of the discourse on our judicial system”, Ajo told the demonstrators.
Indeed, violence against humanity in the name of state security has never died away in concert with the penetration of capitalism for the accumulation of wealth and the government that legitimises it.
The group also demanded and called on the government to immediately resolve the numerous agrarian conflicts in Indonesia, one of which is taking place in 10 villages in the North Maluku sub-district of Galela, North Halmahera regency. They are demanding the revocation of the plantation and business permit of the company PT Kso Capitol Casagro and the unconditional return of 2,000 hectares of land to the farmers of Galela.
“After three years in power the Joko Widodo administration has been proven to have failed to bring prosperity to the people and has become a puppet of imperialism. And Prabowo [Subianto], who was the actor behind the abduction of activists [in 1997-98] and deployed troops to slaughter the people during the May 1998 [riots], has never been tried, and instead has been free to establish a [political] party and nominate himself as a presidential [candidate]. So both of them are the real enemies of the people, and we cannot depend upon either of them. It is time to build a political alternative, a solution for the people”, asserted Ajo.
“What is a political alternative? A political alternative is the way out for the people that does not depend on or submit to those in power and all of the other political parties which only offer illusions. A political alternative is a third road (alternative) which is independent and does not beg from those in power, is democratic and does not collaborate with the enemies of the people or with anti-democratic political forces”, Ajo continued.
Within the arena of politics itself, electoral politics are still dominated by the parties that represent the bourgeois, the majority of which are old elite parties. Today’s political constellation is largely directed towards the interests of capitalism and imperialism, so it is true that our pressing need and the solution to all of the Indonesian people’s problems is building an alternative political party, which is truly supports the interests of the people, not the interests of the bourgeois and capitalism. (Ajun)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Peringati Reformasi, Komitmen: Usut Tuntas Pelanggaran Ham di Indonesia, dan Bangun Politik Alternatif.]