ASIET: Peoples' Democratic Party National Congress a success

Info-Pembebasan - September 15, 1997

[The following is slightly abridged translation of a statement sent to ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor) by the underground Peoples' Democratic Party (PRD)]

Between August 30 and 31, 1997, the Peoples' Democratic Party (PRD) held its first National Congress in Jakarta. According to the PRD's constitution, the National Council has the highest authority between congresses. The congress was attended by all of the national (KPP) and regional (KPK) readerships of the PRD with the exception of KPK Palu and Ujung Padang who arrived late.

The congress was opened by a recorded speech [from jail] by the PRD chair, Budiman Sujatmiko. In his speech Budiman said that the dictatorship had made the PRD their main target because the PRD has the potential to grow strong. Budiman also expressed his pride at the PRD cadre who are still active in struggling to establish a Peoples' Democratic Coalition.

Other contributions were made which supported the conference and gave constructive criticism. Others, which gave very strong support [for the PRD] were also heard from other prodemocratic groups.

One of the criticisms of the PRD was that previously it had rarely worked with other groups but that it had become more open after July 27, 1996 and that the PRD's program to establish a Peoples' Democratic Coalition and the actions of the PRD were contradictory. PRD actions which smack of "communist symbols" were also criticised by other groups when this had strengthened the regime's accusations that the PRD are truly communists.

A contribution by another pro-democracy figure was that what was needed for the struggle at this time was courage. Because without courage people live as little more than sheep. Many intelligent people in Indonesia have all kinds of titles but without courage they are defeated by Suharto. This figure also explained that the struggles of this generation are far more difficult than those before such as the [independence] movements at the turn of the century, the 1920s, 1930s and 1945, because they fought the military with weapons. But today's [democratic] movement has no weapons other than matches and stones. The figure warned us to be careful of the military because they were trained by the Dutch Colonial Army (KNIL), Indonesians who became soldiers of Dutch East Indies colonialism. KNIL soldiers were not trained to fight foreign troops but to kill and oppress the people. When they fought foreign troops the KNIL surrendered within a short time.

The PRD's analysis of the national political situation:
1. The peoples' consciousness is already clear, that is anti- dictatorship consciousness;
2. The peoples' [anti-regime] sentiment is strong and widespread;
3. The people are already actively resisting the dictatorship though small confrontational and radical actions which the New Order regime calls "riots".

Based upon this analysis, the objective political conditions can be categorized as [a period when] the people are already actively [resisting the dictatorship]. When the people were still passive, our strategy was based on agitation and propaganda, with the aim of exposing the rottenness of the New Order and encouraging the people to resist. But now that they are actively [resisting], our strategy is to push for radical and confrontational actions, to turn riots (1) such as Situbondo, Tasikmalaya, Rengas Dengklok, Pontianak, Jember, Sampang and others into organised battles (2), which can become a nation wide uprising to overthrow the military dictatorship under Suharto. The task of our party is to provide leadership (3) so that these riots are not diverted into issues of SARA (4) and direct them towards specific targets such as soldiers, military headquarters, government offices, houses of government officials and so on.

For this, the party's program is to build a structure of resistance. A structure of resistance is an organisational [structure] which prepares for radical and confrontational actions which have a mass base in the suburbs, local districts and factories and are coordinated nationally. This structure has the task of contributing to radical and confrontational mass actions and giving national coordination to them.

Translators notes:
1. The original term used was "pemberontakan". "Pembrontakan" is closer in meaning to "rebellion", "revolt", "uprising" or "mutiny" rather than "riot".
2. Ibid.
3. The original term was "pelapor", vanguard.
4. Sara: Suku, agama, ras dan antar golongan, An acronym meaning ethnic, religious, racial and inter-group conflicts. A loosely defined term with negative connotations, it is frequently used by the regime to describe conflicts which are deemed to threaten "national unity" or "stability" and are at odds with the state ideology of Pancasila and the concept of "unity in diversity".

[Translated by James Balowski, ASIET Publications and Information Officer]

Wed, 17 Sep 1997

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