Don’t use the Bali bombing to undermine democracy

PRD – October 17, 2002
Police officer guard Kuta Beach Bali (Johannes P. Christo)
Police officer guard Kuta Beach Bali (Johannes P. Christo)

The bombing in Legian, Bali, which killed 183 people and wounded hundreds of others has already impacted on a number of groups.

Reactions have been confused and mixed – anger, grief, accusations and the enactment of a law (or government regulation) which is clearly anti-democratic. However the main reaction is obvious, irrationally taking advantage of the situation for those interests which are anti-democratic. Rather than attempting to open up the case to society in a clear and transparent manner, there are just accusations and counter-accusations to obscure the trail of the political crime by those parties who should be most responsible for this incident.

Putting aside who exactly detonated the bomb and their motives, there are at lease three groups which are most responsible in creating an atmosphere which sowed the seeds for the use of such a vile method to grow and develop.

Firstly, the global elite and their imperialist ambitions spreading the power of global capital with the knowledge that it will not bring prosperity or peace as they promised it would under the New World Order after the collapse of the Berlin wall and the Soviet Union. Instead their foreign policies, which are a part of the competition of international capital, have caused wars, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the formation of groups who attack civilians with bombs, suicide bombs, poison gas and so forth.

The imperialists have created a “Frankenstein monster” which includes terrorist groups which were previously key instruments in the Cold War. If it is proven that the international organisation al Qaeda (also Osama bin Laden) exists [in Indonesia], and it is proven that this network has been carrying out acts of terror since 1992 (including the September 11 tragedy), then it is in fact the US government which is most responsible for creating this “Frankenstein monster” since during the Afghanistan war this group was supported and funded by the US government.

Similarly, the threat of war which is blanketing the underdeveloped world cannot be separated from the context of this incident. In the context of imperialism pushing its agenda, the flag of “globalisation”, we cannot just ignore the social and political processes which underlie the human tragedy in Legian.

Frustration and anger are the result of neoliberal policies, the deployment of US troops in a number of parts of the world and political support for anti-democratic regimes since the 1960s through to the 1990s; this has reaped the harvest of “terrorism”. Conditions that are beyond the pale of humanity which are experienced by the Palestine nation give birth to the perpetrators of suicide bombings.

Secondly, the political elite of the Third World have become the accomplices of imperialism. For the sake of protecting the interests of imperialism and maintaining their power from the “disruption” of resistance by oppressed people, they have organised a reactionary coalition. Still fresh in our memories is the use of Muslim vigilantes (Pamswakarsa) to safeguard the special session of the parliament in 1998, or the presence of military and police officers during the celebrations at the establishment of the Islamic Defenders Front in 1999 and the Semanggi II incident [when 10 students were shot dead during a demonstration in Jakarta]. This makes it clear to us that during the rule of the New Order regime, the state legitimised and sponsored the use of violence against civil groups through para-military organisations. Moreover, after President Suharto fell, the use of thugs in social and political conflicts increased in anticipation of the strong anti-militarist sentiment in society. There has still never been any transparent process by the state with regard to these political processes.

With regard to the issue of civilian bombings in particular, since 1997 such bombings of civilian targets have occurred in Indonesia: the BCA bombing, the Christmas and New Year bombings in 2000, the bombing of Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle members during the People’s Consultative Assembly session in 1999, the bombing of striking workers, the grenade attack in Slipi in Jakarta in 2001 and a number of other incidents which are clearly designed to terrorise civilians which have yet to be properly explained to the public. Rather, the impression is that there are efforts to cover up the trail of these incidents followed by a process of scapegoating merely to provide a momentary respite. However bombs continue to explode and kill civilians.

Thirdly, there are political groups which are conducting racist campaigns and blasphemy on the basis of religious differences, which is followed by instigating wars between religious and ethnic groups. In the case of Indonesian conflicts in the Maluku islands, Poso [in Central Sulawesi], Pontianak [in Kalimantan] and other regions of religious/ethnic conflict, it is absolutely clear that they have been worsened by the presence of these groups. They prejudice people’s thinking and close the possibility of a peaceful resolution to these conflicts which in reality are a manifestation of local elite conflicts. Moreover, the para-military organisation of these groups actually escalates the armed conflicts. It is no longer any secret that the firearms and bombs (the assembly and industrial production of armaments) are used by them as a tool.

These groups view the present global crisis as a result of conflicts between religions, between the “West” and the “East” or more particularly between “Islam” and the “West”. The narrowness of their thinking has never been able to explain why, in anti-war demonstrations [against a war on Iraq] in the developed countries there are Jewish groups which join hands with Palestinian groups. They can never explain why in the 1970s and 1980s, Islamic groups were oppressed by General Suharto who was a Muslim. They also show opportunism in quickly supporting the implementation of Islamic Law in Aceh while the majority of Achenese continue to be involved in calls to demonstrate issued by groups which support a referendum [for self-determination] for the people of Aceh.

It is this view or narrow analysis that they use in their campaigns and organising which creates hundreds of “terrorists”, who are often xenophobic and discriminatory. These kinds of groups are the ones who encourage suicide bombings and who are clearly destroying the potential for solidarity by the Jewish people toward the suffering of the Palestine nation, and legitimise the attacks against Palestinian settlements which are followed by the slaughter [of civilians]. It is this type of view which resulted in the cold blooded murder of thousands of people at the World Trade Centre building and the death of hundreds of civilian passengers of the aircraft which they hijacked.

These groups who are responsible [for what happened] now accuse each other over the slaughter which occurred in Legian. It is absolutely clear that this kind of violence will not stop in the future, so we will see as a result of the promulgation of the Anti-Terrorism decree arbitrary arrests and suicide bomb threats as a reaction to this.

In the context of this kind of situation, the People’s Democratic Party:

1. Condemns in the strongest possible terms the bombing of civilians on any grounds whatsoever. These kind of incidents will only create fear, uncertainty and damage the process of democratisation which is being struggled for at the moment in Indonesia.

2. Reject in the strongest possible terms the Anti-Terrorism Decree and the establishment of a National Security Council which will only strengthen the anti-democratic forces within society and the military. The Indonesian government already has too many laws that limit civil rights, the resolution of this bombing is really only a problem of the government’s political will to make transparent the results of the investigation by existing civilian groups or government institutions.

3. Fully support an investigation into the bombing which prioritises the initiatives of civilian components (an Independent International Investigation Committee) and calls on the government release all secret state documents which are related to the bombing of civilians.

Jakarta, October 17, 2002

Central Leadership Committee of the PRD
Haris Rusly, Chairperson
Natalia Scholstika Ch, Secretary General

[Translated by James Balowski.]