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July 27 - Political Assessment

[This statement was issued by the PRD Central Leadership Council (KPP) following its recomposition in the wake of the arrest of several PRD leaders. KPP operates as the underground leadership of the party.]

The July 27 incident represented a culmination of the accumulating and sharpening conflict between the people and the New Order regime. As the 1997 elections neared, calls for democratisation and for a change in the regime broadened and this contradiction became more explosive. The people's demands for political change broadened and intensified, increasingly focusing on calls for the dismantling of the two main pillars of the New Order dictatorship: the dual function of ABRI (the armed forces) and the restrictive packet of five political laws.

Before July 27 we witnessed the Indonesian people's political struggle finding a new form, a new momentum, with the demand for change broadening out and drawing in all elements and sectors in society. Not only were there people's protests in the form of actions by workers, students and farmers, there was also increasingly organised and manifest political resistance, as indicated by the establishment of new parties, the formation of KIPP (Independent Election Monitoring Committee), the Petition of July 1, and the establishment of MARI (Indonesian People's Council), a broad coalition of pro- democratic forces. Resistance was intensifying, balancing the repressiveness of the New Order regime. The emergence of these new forms represented the efforts of the people to stab the spear of their resistance into the heart of New Order rule. The Peoples Democratic Party was one of the elements active in this wave of resistance to the dictatorial New Order regime. As an alternative political party, PRD offered a solution for Indonesia's problems, via its struggle program for a popular multi-party democratic society. For that reason, the PRD had long decided on a strategy for political change based on building a mass democratic movement and the use of peaceful and non-violent means.

As part of this strategy, PRD offered critical support to democratic parliamentary forces, especially the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) under Megawati Sukarnoputri. The PDI under Megawati captured the people's hopes for change and democratisation from within parliament. The people gave Megawati their trust because she was relatively free from New Order co-option, and she became leader of the party on the basis of the `undercurrent' of mass support which wanted the PDI to be more than just an election machine.

However, the rulers of the New Order did not want change. They planned an election which would not bring about change in the regime. To this end, precisely as the people's struggle was becoming broader and stronger, the regime took reactionary political action, by intervening in the internal conflict in the PDI. The pro-regime PDI faction, led by Suryadi, carried out a vulgar coup d'etat, via the engineered congress, to remove Megawati, the party's legitimate leader.

All of the people understand that the removal of Megawati was a result of the great opposition of the New Order regime and its leader General Suharto to any democratic opposition force like that which Megawati sought to bring into being.

In the context of the heightening contradiction between the people and the New Order regime, the internal conflict in the PDI attracted great attention and sympathy from the people, who want democratisation and change. The problem was no longer a simple internal conflict in the PDI. Instead, the conflict in the PDI broadened out and became an arena for the struggle between conservative, pro-regime forces and the mass people's democratic forces.

In accordance with its political strategy, the PRD gave its support to Megawati Sukarnoputri as the legitimate leader of the PDI. The PRD was the first non-parliamentary political force to offer such support. And it put that support into concrete action, by jointly organising mass actions with the PDI in the regions. The PRD also mobilised workers, students and the urban poor to support the leadership of Megawati and to call for the repeal of the package of five political laws. This initiative extended the spectrum of resistance and gave rise to a grand coalition of pro- democratic forces in MARI. The political contradiction deepened, and the resistance attracted ever wider waves of support. The alliance of parliamentary and non-parliamentary political forces triggered by the PDI crisis was the first such development under the New Order regime, and quickly developed into a major threat to the regime.

At the same time, the people's anger increasingly boiled over, as they witnessed the increasingly reprehensible and tyrannical acts of the regime, a regime which had taken away and abused the people's basic rights for over 30 years.

This is the background to the July 27 explosion. The regime attempted to end the people's resistance by attacking the PDI headquarters and taking it away from Megawati. The regime brutally attacked Megawati's sympathisers who were guarding the office. Some of them were killed. Politically, the aim of the attack was to disperse the new alliance between parliamentary and non- parliamentary forces which had formed around Megawati's PDI.

However, the attack backfired. The urban masses ran wild, and stirred up Jakarta. Scores of buildings owned by the government and the big capitalists were burned. Scores were killed and hundreds are now missing. This was the outcome of the struggle between the regime's troops and the people who opposed the brutal seizure of the office. The July 27 incident was witness to the people's capacity to take action. The people's resistance on that day was spontaneous and uncontrolled. The attack on the PDI office was the provocation which sparked it. The attack was the direct cause of the explosion. The entire people knows that the brutal action of the regime was the provocation, in the midst of a very sensitive situation, which caused the riot. The New Order regime was the "mastermind" (dalang) of the riot, in the term's true meaning.

As is known, in the aftermath of this disaster, the PRD was made the scapegoat. PRD functionaries were arrested and PRD leaders are threatened with the subversion law. Scores of other PRD members have been detained and hundreds have been pursued into hiding. The regime has also attacked all other pro-democratic forces. The PRD has been the main target for elimination, and the regime has labelled us communist, although our ideology is popular social democracy. In short, the eradication has been legitimated with the old worn-out black propaganda: "beware the latent danger of communism!"

The regime has also banned the distribution of the PRD's political manifesto and political programme. Yet these documents set out noble ideas for the establishment of a fully democratic, multi-party, popular socio-democratic society in Indonesia. Ideals which are universal in character, have never been forbidden and which are -- although there has been no need to sloganise about this -- completely in accordance with Pancasila and the aims of the Indonesian nation set down in the 1945 constitution.

The leaders of the PRD are now in jail. But this does not mean that the struggle to uphold democracy and social justice in Indonesia is dead, as the current propaganda of the opportunists and false democrats would have it. Jail, detention, muzzling and slander against the PRD are not solutions to the serious problems experienced by the Indonesian people under the New Order regime.

Amid the ferocious repression and white terror of the New Order regime, we will continue to take action, although we must remain underground. The PRD will continue to struggle alongside the people for a multi-party, democratic, and popular Indonesia.

Mirah Mahardika. On behalf of PRD Central leadership committee (KPP), Jakarta, 30 September 1996

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