The eruption of the July 27 incident, was clearly taken advantage of by the New Order regime to
strike down the PRD which was lead by Budiman Sudjatmiko by accusing them as being the
"masterminds" of the July 27 incident. Furthermore, the organisation which officially declared itself
on July 22 was accused of using "communists methods" of organisation. Scores of its activists
were intimidated, interrogated and arrested, and now are soon to be taken before the courts. Is it
true that this represents a "fatal blow" to the PRD and the opposition movement in general? A
reporter from the weekly magazine "X" found an answer from the representative of the National
Executive of the PRD (KPP-PRD), Mirah Mahardhika who is now active leading the PRD which
still has hundreds of activists which according to her will continue to "struggle". What follows is
excerpts from her interview.
The eruption of the July 27 incident, was clearly taken advantage of by the New Order regime to strike down the PRD which was lead by Budiman Sudjatmiko by accusing them as being the "masterminds" of the July 27 incident. Furthermore, the organisation which officially declared itself on July 22 was accused of using "communists methods" of organisation. Scores of its activists were intimidated, interrogated and arrested, and now are soon to be taken before the courts. Is it true that this represents a "fatal blow" to the PRD and the opposition movement in general? A reporter from the weekly magazine "X" found an answer from the representative of the National Executive of the PRD (KPP-PRD), Mirah Mahardhika who is now active leading the PRD which still has hundreds of activists which according to her will continue to "struggle". What follows is excerpts from her interview.
Question: After Budiman Sudjatmiko and his comrades were arrested, it appeared from the political statements that [you] became the leader of the PRD. Could you explain a little about the shift from the PRD to become the KPP-PRD as seen from the statements which have been issued?
Mirah: First of all I would like to say that for those of us who are outside, in "New Order's great jail", although it was difficult in the beginning, we have now begun to consolidate. The attitude of the New Order regime in its response to the July 27 incident which ended with intimidation and arrests of scores of PRD activists including our chairperson, Budiman Sudjatmiko, was a reactionary act. The reactionary acts of the New Order regime no longer view the law as the primary means of establishing facts and truth. Intimidation, interrogation and arrests of PRD and other pro-democracy activists is the way of tackling [its opponents] ala fascism. The choice by a large part of the PRD activists to temporarily go into hiding, is only in the tactical framework of struggling against fascist methods, it does not mean they are afraid or will retreat and not struggle. For us the more reactionary the regime is in arresting and intimidating us, the firmer we are that this regime must struggled against. This means, the struggle of our organisation which is founded on peoples' social democracy which aims for an Indonesia which is democratic and multi-party must continue, in spite of the "white terror" and repression ready to block us. PRD activists who are outside have already consolidated based on the mandate from Budiman Sudjatmiko and agreed to by hundreds of other activists, the result is the formation of KPP-PRD. KPP-PRD holds the mandate to continue the struggle. In principle, we still continue to acknowledge Budiman Sudjatmiko's leadership. We are ready to be lead by Budiman from jail. It is only our [KPP] day-to-day political activities which are mandated from within.
Question: You spoke about the KPP having a mandate from Budiman, just what was mandated by him?
Mirah: The mandate we received was concerning assignments, activities and decisions both politically, organisationally and ideologically. These organisational, political and ideological decisions relate to the outcome of the PRD congress which we have already publicised widely through the July 22 declaration, including our political manifesto.
Question: If so, the organisational forms and methods must also used the model which was carried out by the PRD before July 27?
Mirah: Correct, there is no difference. We still maintain the organisational methods which have used up until this time. Likewise, in our sectoral and geographical priorities, and also in the priorities of political tools, we are remain constant with the outcome of the congress.
Question: You carry out political activity, in the midst of the transformation you face and it is still carried out unbroken. How can you maintain links with other PRD activists which are spread across a number of cities?
Mirah: We always protect the consistence of the "unity of command" and the "unity of action" which we have practiced do date. Although working in a situation under conditions of repression and the regime's oppression, these two issues must continue to be maintained. At the moment, KPK- PRD groups are being formed in a number of cities which will carry forward the political, organisational and ideological program in each city. The KPK directions and instructions will be carried out by these KPK groups. With regard to how we maintain contact, I don't need to explain [the details], I only want to state the fact that all of the directions and instructions are now operating normally enough, as well as the links with the masses.
Question: Does this also include carrying out actions as you have carried out until now, for example alliances with workers?
Mirah: Certainly, our conclusion is the political tool which is most effective and proven to accelerate the process of the political consciousness of the masses is mass action. Returning to working in the condition of the regime's oppression, mass actions being carried out at the moment are gaining momentum. This is only a tactical framework.
Question: What program will be carried out in the immediate future?
Mirah: KPP-PRD has a number of basic tasks. Organisationally, the basic task which must be carried out is consolidation. The task of consolidation has already been started, the general directions of our work has already begun to be implemented. The task of the organisations in each region is to broaden political consciousness, although it is not yet back to normal it has already begun to again be strengthened. In the near future KPP will also focus on the trials of our activists both in Jakarta as well as Surabaya, East Java.
Question: Returning to your last statement, according to you, will the coming trials be able to prove the accusations that the PRD masterminded the July 27 incident and that the PRD are communist?
Mirah: In the history of the New Order, political trials are not built based on legal logic although the constitution clearly states that this country is a country of the rule of law. The logic of trials are built on the logic of politics. Legal regulations are discarded in the waste basket. Because its logic is political logic, it is certain that the New Order regime will therefore, in the trails of PRD activists or other activists, legitimise a number of ways to prove these accusations. Actually, at this time the New Order regime, in the process of the investigations, has failed to prove these accusations. The accusation of being the mastermind behind the July 27 riots has from the beginning, been denied by the PRD, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has explicitly confirmed the denials of the PRD activists. Including the accusation of communism. The is no convincing evidence that we, who are based on peoples' social democracy, can be called a communist organisation. We have seen the regime's efforts to force through justification of the accusations which have been publicised widely from the President to the local authorities (RT/RW) by bringing forward false evidence, false witnesses, which will be supported by intellectual [lit] whores like Amir Santoso, Yusril Ihza Mahendra and other intellectuals which have never had any intellectual integrity. There is a possibility that in the coming hearings they will be brought in as expert witnesses. With regard to these two intellectuals and their colleges in CPDS in particular, I see a tendency for them to force themselves to pretend to understand social democracy, to pretend to understand Marxism, and pretend to represent the voice of the Islamic community. If you don't believe it, just read the their writings and commentaries about the PRD, Megawati, and the prodemocracy movement thought the regime's own press releases in publications such as Gatra, Republica, Paron and others. History will note that they are intellectual traitors, and will resign them to the garbage bin of history.
Question: According to you the logic of the trials are political logic. Meaning you can already be certain that the judge's verdict will jail the PRD activists. Was this risk a consideration!
Mirah: Trials and the jailings are a political tools of the New Order to kill opinion, thinking, opposition activists and the struggles which it faces. All of PRD activists understand this one thing, arrest, trial and jailing are a consequence we must accept. Accepting does not mean we must submit to one's fate. There must continually be an effort to struggle. Arrest, interrogation, trialed until jailed, continues to present opportunities to struggle. Until now, as I have said, our activists who have been arrested still oppose and reject the regime's accusations, such as refusing to cooperate with the interrogations [sign confessions], using the praperadilan (legal procedure by which suspects can protest wrongful arrest etc prior to being brought to trial) against the arbitrary authority of the military exercised though an institution which is enemy of the people, Bakorstanas (a military intelligence body) in arresting, and interrogating and so on. All of those now arrested are in agreement to continue to struggle consistently although the "engineered verdict" has already been prepared by the New Order regime. They hope that their trial and imprisonment will give an opportunity to the people to create a stage where the tyranny of the New Order can be opposed. This stage will give conviction to the people of their strength, it is a model of the way out of the shackles toward a society which is more democratic.
Question: Returning to the July 27 incident, how to you actually view this incident?
Mirah: The July 27 incident was a result of the accumulation and the culmination of the sharpening contradictions between the people and the New Order regime. These contradiction encounters an explosive moment whenever demands for democracy and change of those in power is more broadly struggled for by the Indonesian people approaching the 1997 general elections. The spectrum of the peoples demands for political change is brewing, increasing and sharpening to abolish two pillars of the New Order dictatorship: The dual role of the Armed Forces and the repressive five political laws. As witnessed, prior to July 27, the Indonesian peoples' political struggle began to take form and gain momentum, where the demands for change broadened drawing in all elements and sectors of society. The peoples' protests in the form of worker, student and peasant actions was also equaled by the political struggle which was manifested in coalition organisations, as was indicated through the establishment of new parties, KIPP (Kelompok Independen Pengawasan Pemilu, the Independent Election Monitoring Group), the July 1 Petition and large coalition of prodemocracy groups under MARI (Mejelis Rakyat Indonesia, the Indonesian Peoples Council). The longer the development of this struggle the more it peaked, equaling the repression of the New Order regime. The emergence of these coalitions was an effort by the people which day by day sharpened the spear of the struggle into to the heart of the authority of the regime of the New Order. In the tension of the contradictions of the peoples' struggle against the New Order regime which was increasing, Megawati's overthrow through fascist elements in the PDI, that is Suryadi and his colleges, attracted great sympathy from the people who desire democracy and change. Megawati's overthrow was no longer seen as an internal problem of the PDI but broadened to become a stage for a fight between the people and the regime. The sharpening of the contradictions became extremely intense, surging forward and drawing in the broad support of the people. This meeting of parliamentary and non-parliamentary forces was a new tendency under the New Order regime and quickly became a fight which the power of the regime which calls itself the New Order. Meanwhile, the objective conditions of the peoples' anger boiled witnessing the authoritarian actions which day by day became open tyranny, taking and repressing the basic rights of the people for more than thirty years.
Question: But why then at the moment of this peak did the struggle direct itself towards anarchism?
Mirah: It's like this, the peoples' consciousness to struggle is great enough. The objective situation I spoke of above is clearly forcing the people to struggle. That choice is a solution to escape from the shackles of repression. This potential to struggle needs a coalition and momentum so that it becomes a struggle which is organised and has leadership. This coalition and momentum certainly exists. Megawati's overthrow, the election of Suryadi and the July 27 attack if truly aimed at the PDI leader or the strength of the united democratic opposition, surely that struggle will become an awesome strength which is organised and lead. The PDI leader and the democratic opposition which are forming coalitions and this momentum, will be quickly defeated in a spontaneous mass movement. Rapid and spontaneous movement from the masses is difficult to direct. The consequence is, if the regime, primarily the military make a political maneuver, the leadership of the PDI and the democratic opposition are confused in their response. Military provocation is easy, and the people then become destructive. This is a valuable lesson for the PDI leadership as well as the democratic opposition, of the importance of this coalition and moment.
Question: Is there something positive which you can take from the July 27 incident, aside from that which you have already spoken about?
Mirah: There is, at least four things. First, that incident opened the peoples' eyes to the reality that the people can act and struggle. Especially if it is under a strong and solid leadership. Secondly, the character of the incident increased the unpopularity of the regime in the eyes (and hearts) of the Indonesian people as well as the international community. Certainly, if this unpopularity continues to accumulate, then it will produce a crisis of power. Thirdly, the incident produced a polarisation between those who are pro and those who are anti-democracy, the people and political change. This means that the New Order regime has failed to consolidate a positive opinion of itself which until now has been full of demagogy. Finally, it has great meaning for the struggle of the peoples' movement. Subjectively for the PRD as well as the broader opposition, although following this incident, we face the "white terror", jailings and false rhetoric from intellectuals and the regime's opportunist puppets, minimally it resulting in speaking to the people about the real character and face of the New Order and was capable of pushing the participation of broad groups to enter and be involved in the political struggle to toward and Indonesia which is democratic and multiparty.
Question: Is it true that the New Order has failed to consolidate a positive opinion. How about the resignation of the masses which denounce the PRD and other movements acting in the name of democracy?
Mirah: Certainly the New Order regime has tried to play around with its political allies to support its power and to denounce the PRD and other movements acting in the name of democracy. But it can be seen that in reality those allies which they tried to play with do not represent broader layers of society, ideology or politics. It was only the Golkar (the state party) elites, mass organisations formed by Golkar and the military which were able to be mobilised. This elite have up until now, been carried in the arms of the regime. They seek support though forcing people to denounce us, give gifts, be bribed or enticed by something. The New Order regime tried to get support from the Islamic Community to denounce the PRD and the prodemocracy movement. The fact is that they obviously failed, only the "yellow" Islamic mass organisations with no clear social base, scholars and intellectuals with an eye to money and collaboration were able to be organised by the regime to attack the democratic movement. Nadlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah make up real political Islam, not CIDES or CPDS which are "carrier politic" Non-government Organisations or ICMI and MUI which were formed by the regime itself. The regime failed to get NU and Muhammadiyah, which have millions of members, to announce their resolute support for the regime and denounce the democratic movement. Under Gus Dur and Ammien Rais, NU and Muhammadiyah established a mass base not to attack the PRD or the other opposition, but to truly take up the real issues of the people who have failed to be fulfilled by the regime which have become the central theme of the mass organisations. Apparently NU and Muhammadiya do not wish to be swayed by the regime which tries to cover up its failure to overcome the concrete problems of society. A large part of NU exists in the villages or the urbanised masses of Muhammadiyah, a part of the people which have also experienced political and economic oppression by the regime.
Question: Is there any evidence of this?
Mirah: There is, aside from statistical data, there is field data obtained buy our activists in the PPBI (Pusat Perjuangan Buruh Indonesia, Indonesian Centre for Labour Struggle), STN (Serikat Tani Nasional, National Peasants Union) and SMID (Solidaritas Mahasiswah Indonesia Untuk Democracy, Student Solidarity for Indonesian Democracy). Among workers for example, thousands of labour activists who frequently carry out spontaneous actions or actions organised by PPBI are followers of Muhammadiyah and a another part are urbanised followers of NU who have come to the cities from the villages. Why are they prepared to be organised by PPBI, in My opinion because they feel that PPBI struggles for their future. The people want an organisation which struggles for their future.
Question: Returning to the July incident which has consumed material and human victims, according to you, who must accept responsibility?
Mirah: Soeharto, Soeharto is the one who must accept responsibility.
Question: Why do you say that he must accept responsibility.
Mirah: The process of military intervention in the overthrow of Megawati followed by the Medan congress and forcibly seizing the PDI headquarters through violence which in the end the end cased the fall of thousands of victims, was done on the direct orders of Soeharto. Therefore, Soeharto must be held responsible and was the trigger for the peoples' resistance. It is quite natural if the people demand Soeharto be tried openly in court. The demands against Soerjadi should not be the primary one, because he is only a puppet. It is Su harto who is the mastermind behind it all.
Question: Okay, this is the last question. Many groups consider that after Megawati was incapacitated, after the PRD and the other opposition were attacked through the July 27 incident, the democratic mass movement has returned to the zero point, exactly the same as after the Malari affair (massive student protests which erupted in March 1978) and the 1978 movement.
Mirah: Certainly, a number of the fake democratic groups and the opportunist groups view July 27 as the beginning of a disaster, the death of the mass democratic movement. This view arises out of the framework of formal logic. Repression and black propaganda along with the "white terror" by the fake democratic groups is assumed to be a blow against the popular peoples' movement. In my view this is an error. The positive side from July 27, as I have raised earlier, is that it has clearly created an objective situation which supports the creation of a popular peoples' movement which is much broader. Oppressing the democratic movement will recreate a coalition and momentum along with the its leadership in a struggle which is solid and strong. Certainly this is not easy. Only with intelligence and caution at the subjective level, ideologically, politically and organisationally can we accelerate the emergence of this coalition and momentum. Change is something which will happen, the New Order regime delays and resists democratisation, while the opposition has the task of breaking this down as quickly as possible.