20 years of reformasi: A reminder of the need to win what has yet to be achieved by reformasi – freedom, equality and prosperity.
Long live the workers! Long live the people!
May 1 is symbolic of our struggle against the tyranny of capital and employers who oppress the working class.
And today, we from KOMITMEN, the May 1 Committee for Freedom, Equality and Prosperity, along with the workers of the world are commemorating International Labour Day or May Day. A day which celebrates the past struggles of workers who fought to win their right to prosperity and an eight hour working day.
The momentum of May Day recollects workers in the United States city of Chicago who, two centuries ago, tirelessly fought and showed us that rights are not given but have to be won!
During the New Order dictatorship of former President Suharto, May Day was banned. Now however, the tide of worker resistance on May Day has become a national holiday, even for trade unions which in the past backed the New Order.
The attitude of the government (the political elite and state officials) and employers however is exactly the same. The government and employers consistently try to dampen the spirit of May Day by organising dance parties, carnivals, community services and entertainment events.
It is true that that on some day in the future we will celebrate May Day with parties, carnivals and entertainment as a national holiday marking the victory of workers. But this will only happen when workers are no longer oppressed, when we are no longer slaves of neo-colonialism. May Day 2018 is a day filled with the spirit of struggle for freedom, equality and prosperity!
May Day 2018 also coincides with 20 years of reformasi – the reform movement that began in May 1998 with the overthrow of Suharto. But 20 years after Suharto’s stepped down as the symbol of New Order power, the ideals of reformasi have still not been fully realised. Under the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, restrictions on democratic space have become ever more tangible.
This primarily originates from two sources: First, the economic and political policies of the Widodo regime which are fundamentally not very different from the Suharto regime, namely siding with the interests of capital.
Second, the consolidation of right-wing political movement and groups as an “opposition” which promotes reactionary politics based on ethnic, religious, racial and inter-group conflicts (SARA) and the spread of fake news which is engineered by the elite ruminants of the New Order regime, the military elite and pro-government groups, which have succeeded in poisoning the consciousness of the ordinary people who are dragged into their political mobilisations.
In reality these two groups – the elite remnants of the New Order regime and the fake reformists – are exactly the same and neither want to see the masses achieve political freedom or the right to full prosperity.
On this day, we as workers are still suffering from oppression and the deprivation of our right to a life that is free and prosperous.
Today, workers are still exploited and betrayed by the capitalist system which drains the blood and labour of workers. Workers’ labour is exploited and they are paid just enough to survive and continue to be exploited.
The logic of capitalism which is married to state power increasingly debases human dignity. Human beings are valued only in terms of their productivity. This results in all kinds of human decadence and the violation of human rights.
Healthcares services have indeed been provided by the regime but they are still very haphazard. The treatments given are the bare minimum and it is managed by insurance companies whose orientation is to profit not the best healthcare for all layers of Indonesian society.
How very hurtful it is to know that on the other hand the Widodo administration instead gives the freedom to greedy capitalists to pay workers arbitrarily thanks to Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages (PP 78/2015) which is totally undemocratic. This regulation is a reflection of how the state behaves under the control of capital.
Meanwhile thousands of migrant workers from Indonesia spread across various different countries largely do not enjoy normative rights and protection. Moreover in theocratic countries such as Saudi Arabia, many migrant workers are beheaded without receiving meaningful assistance or protection from the government.
The working day, which should be eight hours, is far from a reality with many workers forced to work overtime on low wages.
Workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) are oppressed and discriminated against and will be criminalised if the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP) currently being deliberated by the House of Representatives (DPR) is passed.
Workers’ rights to join a trade union are violated and many workers are arbitrarily sacked or criminalised for advocating for or demanding their rights.
The Widodo regime, which is under the control of the forces of capital, also restricts freedom and denigrates the values and dignity of workers by blindly muzzling press freedom in the name of protecting the honour of the DPR through the Law on Legislative Institutions (UU MD3).
It is actively and systematically oppressing and destroying the nation of West Papua which is a community of people who deserve the right to be valued and respected and to fight for the right to self-determination as mandated in the 1945 Constitution. Farmer’s land all across the country is taken by force.
The irony is that the government, which is supposedly pro-people, gives a green light and red carpet to the palm oil industry, cement factories and mining companies to freely destroy the environment and impoverish the Indonesian people, particularly farmers.
And as we all know, all these forms of state violence are a pathology which began with the 1965 anti-communist purge where since then the state influenced by the power of foreign capital has initiated acts of violence, murder and even mass extermination against its own people when they refuse to submit to the power of the capitalists.
Because of this therefore we, the working class, artists groups, women, religious groups, high school and university students, environmental activists and all elements of the people which are part of KOMITMEN call for and demand that the Widodo regime:
1. Reduce the working day to six hours
2. Stop union busting
3. Increase wages by 100 percent
4. Abolish contract labour, outsourcing and exploitative apprenticeship systems
5. Revoke the PP 78/2015
6. Provide unconditional menstrual leave
7. Provide 14 months maternity leave
8. Abolish the defamation articles
9. Revoke the law on mass/social organisations (UU Ormas)
10. Implement the K3 Work and Safety Standards for workers
11. Provide genuine protection to migrant workers and end capital punishment
12. Reject the Memorandum of Understanding between the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (National Police)
13. Reject the haphazard and discriminatory RKUHP
14. Investigate past human rights violations
15. Withdraw all organic and non-organic TNI and Polri from Papua
16. Arrest and try the generals who have violated human rights
17. Provide the broadest possible freedom of expression and allow international journalists’ access to Papua
18. Religious institutions must side with the working class
19. Full rights, justice and equality for LGBT and disabled workers
20. Disband the TNI’s territorial military command
21. Abolish the vital national asset status of industrial zones
22. Abolish the National Defense program on campus
23. Stop the forced eviction and theft of people’s land
24. Reject the Jakarta Bay reclamation project
25. Provide free and universal healthcare
26. Implement genuine agrarian reform
27. Abolish the subversion and treason articles
28. Abolish the laws on elections and political parties
29. End the criminalisation of activists and release those in jail
30. A moratorium on new mining permits and the expansion of the mining industry
31. Stop selling off mining concessions in exchange for support in the upcoming elections
32. Reveal the truth about and end impunity for those who committed the 1965-66 genocide
33. Stop discriminating and stigmatising workers and people with tattoos
34. Revoke the business permit and close the company PT KSO and return the 2000 hectares of land belong to Galela farmers
We call on all of the oppress and those fighting for the people to join together and build an alternative political force as a tool of unity and strength to reform the nation and social order into one that is more democratic, just, equal, prosperous and friendly to the environment.
Building such an alternative political force however cannot achieved if we are not truly dedicated, committed and independent so that we do not hang our hopes on one or other section of the political elite.
Change is only possible through united people’s power that is courageous, independence and conscious.
The Battlefield – May 1, 2018
Greater Jakarta KOMITMEN
The Populist Democratic Trade Union Federation (F-Sedar), the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (Safenet), the Kemah Abraham Church (GKA), the Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (PEMBEBASAN), the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP), the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), the Greater Jakarta Legal Aid and Justice Foundation (LBH KJR), the Earth of Mankind Trade Union (SEBUMI), TRIMOERTI, the Migrant Workers Community (KOBUMI), Metaruang, the 1965 International People’s Tribunal (IPT 65) Association, the Bogor Papuan Students Association (IPMAPA Bogor), the Indonesian People’s Union of Struggle (SPRI), the Indonesian People’s United Resistance (PPRI), the People’s Liberation Party (PPR) and individuals (Asep Komarudin, Galesh and Roy Murtadho)
Photos of May Day 2018 are available here: https://www.facebook.com/Muhamad.Aras99/media_set?set=a.973261709503176&type=3
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the statement was Pernyataan Sikap KOMITMEN May Day 2018.]