INDONESIA: \"This is the New, New Order\" (Pramoedya)


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-15-2001
ISSUES: Democracy,

INDONESIA: book burning, arson, ‘sweeping’, banning of books and writings, threats to organisations regarded as ‘leftist’

\”This is the New, New Order\”
That’s the view of Indonesia’s most celebrated author, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, 76, who survived 10 years of incarceration on infamous Buru Island and almost 20 years of house/city arrest years under Suharto, and whose previously banned books had finally become available in bookstores around Indonesia. Thanks to threats by organisations and individuals forming an ‘Anti-Communist Front’, his books and many other ‘leftist’ titles are being removed from major bookstores around Indonesia. Books are being publicly burned in the streets, and the ‘Anti-Communist Front’ has stated that they will conduct a major ‘sweep’ on May 20th to wipe out anything (organisations, books, offices, statues, individuals) associated with left-wing ideology.
In our INDONESIA EARLY WARNING Urgent Appeal, we described to you the burning of a union office in Medan (North Sumatra), book-burnings in Yogyakarta (Central Java) and the suspected disappearance of the leader of a political party (PRD) in Medan. Since then, the situation has worsened. All of the main bookstores in Indonesia have withdrawn from their shelves any books associated with communism, Marxism, or any leftist ideology, after being threatened in particular by the newly-formed Islam Youth Movement. The violence in Yogyakarta has worsened and ‘sweeps’ have begun in Makassar (South Sulawesi). Members of leftist political parties are unable to go anywhere alone, and the leader of the PRD (Democratic People’s Party) has received serious death threats.
The anti-communist groups have publicly announced plans to conduct a mafor sweep to destroy anything suspected to be connected with leftist ideology on National Awakening Day, May 20. \”All of our people, around 36,000 in Jakarta, will move on that day [May 20] to show our commitment to fight against communism,\” said HM Suaib Didu of the Anti-Communism Alliance.
The burning of books is causing an enormous level of concern amongst the arts, literary, academic and democracy-building community including well-known theater figure Ratna Sarumpaet, of the Alliance for the Freedom of Thought and Speech. Pramoedya, a nobel prize nominee and recent recipient of the Chevalier d’Ordre des Arts des Lettres medal by the French government, had this to say to AAP:

\”I have heard that they will celebrate National Awakening Day [May 20] with vandalism. If in the books something offends them, bring the book to court and sue the author. If they want to have progress, write a book to counter them. It’s very simple – don’t go out and burn the books.\”
If you have not already done so, please write now to the Indonesian Chief of Police, the National Human Rights Commission and President Wahid to express your outrage that this book-burning and censorship has been allowed to take place. Further, the public threats made by the ‘Anti-Communist Front’ led by Eurico Guterres (leader of militias that destroyed East Timor after the referendum) and other groups must be prevented from curbing the activities of the democracy-building civil society. Please urge them to take all measures possible to prevent the destructive sweep being planned and publicly announced by the ‘Anti-Communist Front’. Addresses are provided below.
This scenario has the potential to plunge Indonesia back into authoritarian/military rule. We will supply further information as it comes to hand, and encourage you to remain vigilant and ready to support the civil society, union movement and authors and artists of Indonesia in any way possible during this difficult time.
Mr. Abdurrahman Wahid

President, Republic of Indonesia

Presidential Palace, Jakarta

Istana Negara, Indonesia.

Fax: 62-21- 345 7782

SALUTATION: Your Excellency

Gen. Surojo Bimantoro

National Chief of Police

Jl. Trunojoyo

No. 3 Kebayoran Baru

Jakart Selatan


Tel: +(6221) 721 8001

Fax: +(6221) 720 7277

SALUTATION: Dear Gen. Bimantoro

Mr. Asmara Nababan

Secretary General

Komnas HAM

Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng

Jakarta Pusat

FAX: (62 21) 392 5227


SALUTATION: Dear Mr. Nababan

Ms. Hina Jilani

Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders

c/o OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Fax: 41 22 917 9006


Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-15-2001
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Democracy,