At midnight on March 3, nine (9) Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) underground Town Leadership Committees organised a coordinated Graffiti Action in the cities of Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Solo, Semarang (all in Java), Lampung and Medan (in Sumatra) and Menado in Sulawesi. The action involved sticking up posters and painting graffiti calling for a boycott of the May 1997 "general elections". In Jakarta, posters and graffiti were put up in bus terminals, workers areas and other central locations.
The slogans used were: "Boycott the 1997 elections!", Without Mega, Boycott the elections", "repeal the 5 Political Laws", "End the dual role of the Army!", "The election process isn't worth continuing, boycott!", "Until the political laws are repealed, boycott the elections!", "End the Army's dual role, then elections!".
When in the area of Rambutan hamlet, Jakarta, the graffiti team comprising Bharata, Iing (PRD Jabotek), Herni (PRD Menado), Bimo Petrus (PRD Central Council staff) were surprised by police. After being chased by motorbike and being threatened with being shot, Bharata escaped over a footbridge. Herni and Bimo also escaped the police that were chasing them. Iing was captured.
Knowing that it was likely that Iing would be tortured in order to discover the local PRD safe house, Herni and Bhatara returned to the house, packed documents and left quickly. But they were seized by a police night patrol.
PRD investigations have located them in the Jakarta Central Police headquarters. It is not clear where Iing is being held.
Sri Bintang in trouble
It has been reported that arrest orders have been issued for Sri Bintang Pamungkas, head of the United Democratic Party (PUDI). PUDI, like the PRD, is not recognised by the government. It suffers regular harassment but has not yet been singled out for full scale suppression like the PRD. Sri Bintang, deputy chair Julius Usman and Secretary-General Saleh Abdullah were briefly detained and interrogated two days ago. PUDI circulated end of fasting month greeting cards carrying the slogan "Boycott the elections". Encouraging people not to vote is illegal in Indonesia.
Regime afraid of Boycott snowball!
Dictator Suharto's recent panicky outburst that he would "flatten" anybody who moved against him "unconstitutionally" (oh hypocrisy!) is clearly motivated by the fear of a boycott snowball that would undermine the legitimacy of the next government both in Indonesia and internationally. Suharto's panic outburst follows the following recent developments:
- PRD bulletins, leaflets and agitation swings behind the call for an active boycott of the elections
- PUDI issues a statement saying that will concentrate all its efforts on a boycott campaign
- the head of the Catholic church issued a pastoral letter indicating that the Church would understand if Catholics felt that there was nobody that they wanted to vote for
- seven key central Java branches of the government recognised Islamic United Development Party (PPP) said they would boycott the elections
- PPP headquarters sanctioned the Central Java boycott and said they would disobey election rules in other areas
- at a demonstration of 5000 supporters (mainly transport workers) in Jakarta, Megawati Sukarnoputri announced that the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-Struggle) would soon announce its position on the elections, hinting strongly that she would call for a boycott.
ASIET will post a full report on the boycott issue in the next few days.
[Abridged translation from the Indonesian media and PRD underground statements - Max Lane]