Workers are a sector of modern society who live from selling their labour in the factories. The absorption of Indonesia into the world capitalist economy has made workers a central force in earning foreign exchange for the state. Workers in the industrial sector number about 10.5 million people. The majority are concentrated in the industrial estate areas of Medan, Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor- Tangerang-Bekasih), Semarang, Solo, Bandung and Gerbangkertasusila in East Java.
The workers' major contribution to the economy has not been repaid with decent conditions in their social, economic and political life. Indonesian workers remain poor. Workers have gradually fought this oppression with strikes. And through these strikes the workers have gained political experience through their confrontation with the Department of Labour, the All Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI) and military intimidation. With the acute exploitation and poverty of workers and their increasing resistance, on 23 October 1994 in Ambarawa, Central Java, the PPBI was formed as a free trade union. PPBI's program combined economic and political demands. In all actions and leaflets, the PPBI puts forward three main strategic demands, namely: a National Minimum Wage of Rp7000 per day, Freedom of Organisation and Stop Military Interference [in labour affairs].
The PPBI's form of struggle is strikes and mass actions. The PPBI is convinced that the workers are an important, central force for the democratic movement. The PPBI has led strikes at Great River corporation, Indoshoes corporation, Viva Mas corporation, Ganda Guna Indonesia corporation, Sritex corporation, on May Day 1994 and many others. For the purpose of education and communication with the workers, PPBI publishes a bi-monthly bulletin, Buruh Bergerak (Workers on the Move) and a newssheet published monthly, Derap Perjuangan (Beat of Struggle). The PPBI also publishes Workers Banner in English for international campaigning. The PPBI conducts educational classes for workers.
At the moment PPBI has branches in Bogor, Tangerang, North Jakarta, East Jakarta, Semarang, Solo, Surabaya and Medan. The president of PPBI is Dita Indah Sari. Dita is detained at the moment by Police Headquarters in Surabaya because she led a strike of 20,000 workers from 10 factories in Surabaya. PPBI headquarters is in Jakarta.
Students are amongst the most sensitive sectors to social political change. It is not surprising that the democratic movement began with students. The student movement in its early period as a ``moral force'' did not prove adequate. The student movement eventually changed its character to a political movement directly challenging the power of the New Order. But this political movement did not prove strong enough. So the student movement has tried to transform it to a peoples' movement. The formation of SMID cannot be separated from the increase in popular resistance and the change in the strategy of the student movement. For the first time, it was possible to establish a national student organisation with a popular character. SMID was formed in 1992, but was only declared openly in August 3, 1994.
The main demand of SMID is for the establishment of a democratic and popular society. SMID consciously views campuses as the home of the student movement. By having a basis on campus, SMID is not built on air, but has a real and organised support base. SMID is active in struggle for the rights of students, such as for the formation of Student Representative Councils, academic freedom, the de-commercialisation of campus and against militarism on campus.
Apart from the campus activity, SMID considers it important for the student movement to support the struggle of the oppressed majority, namely workers and peasants. So it is not surprising that SMID has formed alliances with workers such as in the Great River corporation strikes in Bogor, the Sritex strike in Solo, strikes in Surabaya, the Semarang plastic workers strike and so on. And it is no new thing to see SMID beside the peasant farmers of Ngawi or Ramunia in North Sumatra. Because of this support for the people a SMID activist, Sholeh, is now to be tried for supporting the action of 20,000 workers in Surabaya.
SMID is also active in the broad democratic movement, such as the Independent Committee for Monitoring the Elections (KIPP), in the Indonesian opposition coalition and in many other pro-democracy actions. SMID publishes a bi-monthly newspaper, Suara Massa (Voice of the Masses). SMID branches have their own publications also. SMID branches are presently located in: Medan, Lampung, Jabotabek, Semarang, Solo, Yogyakarta, Purwokerto, Surabaya, Malang, Manado and Palu. The president of SMID is Andi Arief, a Faculty of Political and Society student at Gajah Mada State University in Yogyakarta. The secretary-general is Nezar Patria from the Faculty of Philosophy, Gajah Mada State University in Yogyakarta.
The absorption of Indonesia into the world capitalist economy has brought turmoil to the lives of the peasantry. Everywhere the peasants must deal with the expansion of the infrastructure of capitalism including dams, highways, factories, warehouses and so on. The development of this infrastructure is usually accompanied by the use of force to take peasants' land with inadequate compensation, and backed by military intimidation.
Conflicts have also emerged between peasant farmers and plantations, both state owned and private. The conflicts are usually around land rent or expansion of the plantations. There are also conflicts with the government which forces peasants to buy fertiliser, pesticides, and seeds as well as sell their product via government run Village Co-operative Units (KUD). This monopoly often exploits the peasants. The rural sector is spread widely. It is an extremely important sector in general elections. In the midst of all the turmoil in the villages resulting from the expansion of capitalism, the peasants have no instruments of struggle to seek their rights. In response to this situation, the STN was formed in Yogyakarta on 13 November 1993.
The STN has been active in struggles in Ngawi, Ramunia, Kaneyan and other areas. All this resistance aims at uniting the peasantry. The STN publishes a monthly bulletin called Pacul (Sickle). The president of the STN is Iman Budi Sanyoto and the Secretary General is Siti Rubaidah. A member of the central council, Cohen Pontoh, is under arrest in Surabaya for supporting the action of 20,000 workers in Surabaya on July 8, 1996. STN branches are in North Sumatra, South Sumatra, Lampung, West Java, Central Java, East Java, Palu and Manado.
The president of JAKER is Wiji Thukul, a people's artist from Solo. He has just undergone an eye operation, almost becoming blind. His eyes were injured while he was leading a strike of textile workers from Sritex corporation in Solo on December 11 1995. He was arrested and tortured by the military.
JAKER is active in campaigns, exhibitions and art workshops. JAKER also composes songs of struggle, helps to produce paintings, sketches and theatre, as well as organising political actions using cultural forms, such as poetry reading and theatrical performances. JAKER members are to be found in Yogyakarta, Semarang, Solo, Tegal, Jakarta and Surabaya.
To unite these poor people of the cities the SRD and SRS were formed in 1995. These two organisations have declared their support for the PRD and have actively supported PRD actions in Jakarta and Solo. A national organisation of urban poor will soon be formed. The urban poor will play a strategic role in the future of the democratic movement.
At the same time in Indonesia itself, there has been growing opposition to the thirty year rule of General Suharto. One aspect of the radicalism and mood of confrontation in the new democratic student, youth and opposition movement in Indonesia has been a willingness to question and challenge the regime on issues which have previously been considered off-limits. These include the treatment of political prisoners, the tremendous massacres of 1965-6, and, very importantly, the occupation of East Timor.
SPRIM, which is affiliated to PRD, is the first organisation in Indonesia with the specific aim of supporting the struggle for East Timorese self determination. At the same time, a number of other student groups and non-governmental organisations have become more interested in and supportive of the East Timorese cause. Thus a fourth front has effectively been opened against the Indonesian occupation of East Timor: the struggle for democratisation within Indonesia itself, where the participants in that struggle increasingly view East Timorese self determination as a necessary component of their own campaign for the overthrow of the Suharto regime.
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