We are inside Jakarta's fortress-like Cipinang prison for a Sunday afternoon potluck lunch. The families and friends of the political prisoners have brought specially prepared home-cooked dishes for the day's celebration. Anom Astika, arrested last year along with the entire leadership of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), has just turned 26 and his sister has recently married. All of Soeharto's jailed foes, from 17 to 70 years old, from all different political tendencies, are gathered for the occasion. The some 100 people here have been through painful times recently but one would not know by looking at them now. There isn't a serious face around and the laughter is as abundant as the food.
In a country ruled by a dictatorship that brooks no dissent, it is only natural to find the best and brightest locked up in prison. Looking around the hall, at the diverse enemies of the state, we realize that we are in one of the country's most important political centers. There are five other PRD prisoners apart from Anom, three elderly men arrested back in 1965 – among Suharto's first victims in his capture of power, several East Timorese who fought with the guerrillas, one man who joined an Islamic resistance organization, and one youth sentenced to five years for "defaming the president."
The ex-engineering professor and ex-member of parliament, Sri Bintang, is here. In retaliation for his public criticisms, the regime has had him expelled from the Muslim party, the PPP, fired from his job and tied down in court on bogus charges. He is currently being charged with subversion for sending out greeting cards for the Muslim holiday Id with the slogans "Boycott the elections. Reject the re-election of President Suharto in 1998. Prepare a new government for the post-Suharto period." The most recent additions to this collection of dissidents, are several Megawati supporters of the PDI, one of the three legal parties along with the PPP. They were hauled in just a few weeks ago for various election campaign offenses, such as tearing down the banners of Soerjadi, the man who deposed Megawati as PDI president by chicanery and violence. Wearing bright red vests, the PDI's color, with the party's logo of the horned bull's head on the back, the Megawati group look like they are dressed for the festival in Pamplona.
Wilson bin Nurtiyas, who is serving as the informal master of ceremonies, has everyone shaking with laughter with his opening remarks. As the PRD's point man on East Timor, Wilson headed up the organization, Indonesian People's Solidarity Struggle with the Maubere People, known by the acronym SPRIM (Solidaritas Perjuangan Rakyat Indonesia Untuk Rakyat Maubere). The PRD was the only organization in Indonesia to openly proclaim an alliance with the struggle for independence in East Timor one reason the Indonesian government was so determined to crush the PRD. It is understandable, yet still incredible, that so few Indonesians have protested their government's killings in East Timor. After 31 years of a horrific war of occupation, Wilson has the distinction of being the first Indonesian with the courage to lead an organization in solidarity with the supposed enemy. The PRD understood that what the government does in East Timor the killings, the tortures, the rapes, the arbitrary arrests – is just a much more intensified version of what it does in the rest of the country. As SPRIM stated once: "The terrible conditions experienced by the people of East Timor, caused by the Suharto regime are not very different from the conditions faced by the people of Indonesia."
Wilson is nothing if not gutsy. He helped organize a joint action between East Timorese students and SPRIM activists on December 7, 1995, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Indonesia's invasion. About 50 of them jumped over the fence of the Dutch embassy and another 50 jumped the fences of the Russian embassy. The logistics for bringing that many people to one spot while avoiding detection were highly sophisticated. Theirs was the largest action in a whole spate of embassy occupations that began several months prior: the French embassy was hit, the Japanese, the Polish, the Australian, and others. On December 7, SPRIM and the East Timorese students made a statement denouncing the continued occupation and called on other nations to support the East Timorese in their struggle for self-determination. They voluntarily left the two embassies the next day. The police arrested them, tortured Wilson and some others, and then put them on a bus to an uncertain location. The ever resourceful Wilson jumped out of the bus and proved fleeter of foot than the security guards.
Sharp and quick-witted, with an unstoppable metabolism, Wilson has as much talent for mass organizing as for scholarly writing. At age 28, he has published an impressive number of articles on Indonesian history and delivered lectures at international labor conferences in India, Hong Kong and Australia. During the years prior to his work in SPRIM, he was a labor organizer in the factories of Java. His underground work of organizing strikes and worker communities honed a crucial skill not taught at the universities: how to evade the police. He learned how to disappear when the police were riled up after a strike and how to reemerge when they had moved on to other cases. Prior to last December, he never had to resort to crude methods such as footraces with the police. He and Anom were underground for a month after the crackdown and were the last PRD to be captured.
Most of the mothers of the PRD prisoners are here, including Wilson's. Their good humor and determination is remarkable. Last year, the state proclaimed the PRD to be public enemy number one and sent out the military and police to harass the families of PRD members. Suharto himself appeared on TV to denounce this party of twenty year olds as the mastermind of the July 27 riots in Jakarta. The PRD was called the reincarnation of the Indonesian Communist Party which, in the lexicon of Suharto's New Order state, meant it was a satanic force bent on violence and mayhem. The Cold War was six years dead but Indonesia's rulers, trapped in a tropical time warp, were still ready to raise an alarm about the communist threat. Outdoing itself for absurdity, the regime claimed that the riots were the cover for the PRD's coup attempt. The PRD, mind you, had no weapons and no connection to any faction in the military.
In face of the full wrath of the country's military, the mothers have not been intimidated a bit. Not one has blamed her son for being involved in left politics. Wilson's mother, who spent hours making a delicious beef curry for the lunch, tells me, "They fight for the poor. There is no shame in that." She has withstood eight sessions of police questionings and repeated visits of intelligence agents to her house. She has nursed her husband who is partially paralyzed after a stroke last year and whose condition sharply worsened because of the police harassment. Somehow she has eked out a living while both her son and husband have been unable to work. Once she stated to journalists: "No, I will not allow anybody, any power, to rob the life that God entrusted to my womb. My blood and my soul are in my son's flesh and life. If any authority, especially of a despot, is going to rob my son's life, I will stand in front of him and defy him." Wilson responded from prison by saying: "I'm very surprised. I've known my mother for 28 years. She's a very gentle person who didn't even dare to pinch me. I've never heard such a strong statement coming out of her mouth before. How is it possible for my gentle mother to intimidate the military which is supported by capital, the law and the bureaucracy? Physically speaking, this is an unequal fight: the New Order vs. my mother."
She and the other parents feel vindicated by the fact that the charge of masterminding the July 27 riots was dropped by the prosecution when it came time to try the 14 PRD defendants. After making such a hue and cry about the PRD attempting to stage a coup d'itat and spreading communism, the regime did not come up with a shred of evidence to back up the charges. The regime wasn't even able to manufacture the evidence. Ultimately, the PRD was charged with "contradicting the state ideology," in other words, with ambiguously defined thought crimes.
Sitting nearby is the father of Budiman Sudjatmiko, the PRD's president. He is easy to recognize since he looks remarkably like his son whose face has appeared on magazine covers throughout the country. He tells us that he distributed a statement of Budiman's at his place of work, Goodyear Tire, headquartered just south of Jakarta, that refuted the military's allegations that the PRD was a communist force behind the riots. For handing it out to some of his fellow workers, Goodyear management informed him that the company might get into some trouble if he didn't keep quiet. He decided to take an early retirement. He has no complaints against Goodyear and his pension has not been affected. What continues to aggrieve both him and his wife is that General Syarwan Hamid, the military's "social and political affairs minister," has neither retracted nor apologized for his public remarks about them last year. At the start of the crackdown, when the lies were flying thick and fast, Hamid claimed that they were communists. The press quickly discovered that Budiman's parents never had any connection to the PKI yet Hamid has refused to apologize for his slanderous error. Being a general means never having to say you are sorry.
Budiman isn't here in Cipinang. He is being kept with four other PRD members in Salemba prison across town. We visited them a couple days earlier. Budiman was, as I recalled from our first meeting several years ago, an excellent conversationalist and quick to laughter. He didn't betray a trace of worry over the fact that he had just been sentenced to thirteen years in jail. By the tone of the conversation, one would have thought we were in a pleasant cafe, not sitting on the concrete floor of a drab prison hall. Budiman has been in prison for ten months. Since he is a voracious reader, the isolation of prison life have not been as hard on him as some of the others. He still looks healthy thanks to the food the PRD relatives and friends bring. We hand him the medicine we brought and ask what else he needs: "Could you bring me tapes of Inti-Illimani and Victor Jara? Also, please bring some literature on the Worker's Party in Brazil. We are very curious about it."
Budiman was arrested along with 33 other PRD members back in August. How the police decided to release some and keep 11 others for trial is as mysterious as the rest of the regime's actions. It was logical to keep the five executive committee members but the rest of the detainees were of the same or lesser rank as those released. The three PRD members in Surabaya who had been arrested a month before for organizing a 10,000 strong workers demonstration had their charges changed after the July 27 incident. Detained for a month on the charge of disturbing the public, the charge was then switched to subversion. Changing the charge after the arrest is illegal according to Indonesian law but that hardly mattered to the pusillanimous judges who could have hardly have been true to the law without incurring the wrath of Suharto.
The regime decided to begin the trials on December 12, two days after Human Rights Day. At first, the PRD patiently mounted a carefully constructed defense though they could scarcely determine the precise charge from the prosecutors' incoherent, 300 page charge sheet. It was a mish-mash of quasi-legal jargon that boiled down to one basic idea: the PRD doesn't like the Suharto regime. The code phrase for this type of crime is "deviating from the state ideology of Pancasila." For good measure, the prosecutors added the charge of "spreading hatred," a catch-all charge invented by the Dutch colonial state for use against the nationalist movement.
Knowing full well what the verdict would be, the PRD nonetheless tried to present a reasonable and convincing defense. Over thirty lawyers volunteered their time to help them. The defendants wished to prove that their statements and actions were not against the "state ideology of Pancasila." The five points of Pancasila, taken by themselves, are actually unobjectionable – democracy, social justice, etc. – and it was not a problem to show the PRD's adherence to them. The problem was that the regime has its own uncodified interpretation of these principles. For Suharto, the five points of Pancasila add up to just one point: raison d'itat. A careful semiotic analysis of the meaning of Pancasila for the New Order government would reveal that it is an empty signifier, invoked as a justification for any government action.
Once it was clear that the judges would not conduct the trials according to proper procedure and were determined to make up arbitrary rules to stifle their defense, the PRD began boycotting the court sessions. In deliciously Kafkaesque scenes, the prosecution continued the case for weeks while the table for the defendants and their lawyers stood empty. In the final session, in late April, the PRD dismissed their team of lawyers and announced their refusal to recognize the court. Arriving in court with fists held high, wearing red T-shirts and bandannas emblazoned with the slogans "Boycott the elections" and "Democracy is Dead," the activists addressed the public and declared their indifference to the proceedings. Budiman read out a three hour long critique of the New Order regime to hearty applause.
In their verdicts, the judges confirmed the prosecution's claim that organizing workers and students, demanding higher wages, holding demonstrations and calling for a genuine multi-party democracy are criminal acts punishable under the Law of Subversion. Indeed, the PRD committed a crime when, in its manifesto, it "did not admit the success of the development conducted by the New Order government." Failing to complement the government for raising the GNP (largely by selling off all the country's resources to multinational corporations) is a crime in Indonesia. Since the court decided to criminalize what should be matters of legitimate debate, the judges' verdicts read like propaganda material for the Suharto regime. The judges desperately tried to show that the regime is in fact democratic and just. The first sentence of the PRD manifesto read: "There is no democracy in Indonesia." Since Indonesia is in fact democratic, according the judges, the PRD lied to the public for what must have been insidious purposes. As Anom and Wilson told the court, the judges' criminalization of political opinion only proved the truth of the manifesto's first sentence.
The defendants greeted their sentences, ranging from 1.5 to 13 years, with a defiance that shocked the judges and exhilarated the hundreds of people in the audience. None of the PRD activists had knuckled under during their tortuous interrogations nine months earlier, none had recanted, and none had shown any hint of the remorse expected by the judges. Budiman yelled at his heavy-jowled prosecutors and judges: "I don't care if you hang me!" On the way out of the courthouse, he managed to elude his guards, jump on top the waiting police van and deliver a rousing speech, fist in the air. Because of the PRD's example, the raised fist has now become a popular gesture of defiance throughout the country. I have seen groups of small children in slums playfully raise their fists in imitation of what they have seen.
In the visitor's hall here in Cipinang, one sees the other side of the PRD. Going by the pictures in the media, one would think that their arms were perpetually locked in a raised position. Pleasantly conversing with relatives and friends, they are sitting on the reed mats which cover the concrete floor. A light breeze enters from the two open sides of the hall and relieves the 95 degree heat. Technically, one could call this space a porch but the word's homely connotations are unsuited to the institutional architecture and ugly metal fence surrounding its open sides. The openness of this visitor's arena facilitates both ventilation and surveillance. A gaggle of intelligence agents stand opposite and watch. The prisoners say that a camera is hidden behind a second floor window of the facing building. No one seems to care in the slightest and the party continues. There is little talk of the elections which were held just 10 days prior. Many of the prisoners here are the victims of Suharto's pre-election preparations and see the vote as nothing but a farce. The PRD, Sri Bintang and the Megawati supporters were targeted as troublemakers to be locked up so that the elections could proceed, according to a government mantra, "smoothly, peacefully and orderly." The government's own party, Golkar, was free to intimidate and bribe the electorate, as it has done in every past election, without hindrance. It uses a classic carrot and stick method. Government officials threaten to cut off funds to any district that does not vote for Golkar and then they hand out sacks of rice to the voters. This year, Golkar received an extra four percentage points over its predicted 70% of the vote. "Suharto is happy," the top headlines read, and the election was proclaimed a "sukses." What everyone here knows is that the peacefulness of the May 29 elections was built on the terror of last year's July 27 massacre.
For the PRD here in prison, everything follows from July 27. Suharto, fearful of Megawati's rising popularity and worried that her PDI would win far more than its allotted 15% of the vote, engineered her removal as party president through a fake party conference in June 1996. Megawati's followers resisted by occupying all the party offices and holding hugely attended open-mike forums at their headquarters in central Jakarta. In the early morning of July 27, soldiers and hired thugs attacked these supporters at the PDI headquarters. Knifing and bludgeoning anyone who happened to be in and around the building, they killed an estimated 50 people and injured scores more. As rumors spread throughout the city, crowds gathered in the streets around the headquarters. Soldiers, deployed on every adjacent street, blocked their access. The stately Menteng neighborhood, with its old colonial architecture and tree lined avenues, looked like a battlefield. Later, in the afternoon, with the crowds becoming larger and larger, the soldiers went on the offensive and chased the people through the streets, beating and arresting anyone they managed to grab. In the mayhem, dozens of buildings were set ablaze.
The citywide riots in the afternoon were, of course, due to the military's own assault on the crowds. But Suharto needed someone to blame. Enter the scapegoat: the PRD. For two years, the regime had been itching to attack the activists behind the PRD. It was not a massive organization but in the depoliticized environment of Indonesia it was one of the most militant and tightly organized forces within the diffuse "pro-democracy movement." Prior to last July, the PRD had been the backbone of KIPP, a newly formed organization to monitor the elections. Not being one of the three parties permitted to contest the elections, the party also joined a coalition of 30 groups that declared its support to Megawati. For the diversity in its composition, it was called the "rainbow coalition" in conscious imitation of the coalition that formed around Jesse Jackson's campaign for presidency in the US.
The PRD activists were doing everything at once: organizing workers, students and artists, working on the elections, taking up part time jobs to earn money – all the while dodging the intelligence agencies (who, as the trials revealed, were thankfully inept and missed much of the PRD's work). No wonder then that they were perpetually wired on caffeine and nicotine. Now in prison, they actually look much healthier than the last time I saw them, two years ago.
Returning with seconds on noodles, I sit on the floor with Romo Sandyawan, a young Catholic priest who bravely sheltered some of the PRD leaders while they were hiding from the military after July 27. He is now a visitor to Cipinang but he may well become a resident soon. Charged with harboring fugitives, he faces a court trial in nine months. As two little boys play around us, he tells me about his work with scavenger communities and street children in Jakarta. He works in the parishes of the poor, as Aristide calls them. He runs daytime schools for the children, two of whom he brought with him today, and evening classes for the adults. By habit, he speaks quietly and haltingly, as if preferring to listen rather than speak. It is hard to believe he is the same person with the loud, rhythmic and fluid voice I heard last week speak before a large group in a church. The sunglasses he wears even here in the shade of the visitor's hall are a necessity, not a stylish affectation. His right eye needs an operation but he is forbidden, because of the case against him, from leaving the country to receive proper medical care.
Romo Sandy, as he is called, put the group of five PRD leaders at his brother's house in a poor neighborhood. Technically, it was legal for him and his brother to harbor them since an official arrest warrant had not been issued. It was the intelligence agency, BIA, that was hunting for the PRD though it has no authorization under the criminal code to make arrests – again, a insignificant technicality for a lawless regime. In that neighborhood, the PRD fugitives probably could have remained indefinitely without being betrayed by the people. When they were captured two weeks later it was because their courier had been caught and forced, with a gun against his head, to reveal their location. Romo Sandy was vilified in the press, his office was raided and he was interrogated at length. His brother was also interrogated and detained for two weeks. Romo Sandy remained unruffled throughout the furor and now, when he thinks about upcoming trial at all, it is with complete equanimity. He is confident in the rightness of his acts.
Once the PRD found itself in jail and found Megawati out of the PDI, there wasn't much point in advocating election monitoring. The events of July 27 had thoroughly delegitimated the elections. The PRD's slogan changed to "Boycott the elections" and KIPP waned into insignificance. KIPP's leadership, consisting of an older generation of disaffected elites who lacked any skill in mass organizing, could neither inspire nor direct the remaining volunteers. KIPP's cadre were further demoralized and confused by the selfishness of the president who spent the campaign period in the United States on personal business of no urgency. After doing nothing for the organization, he returned to Indonesia only to resign from KIPP and criticize its inactivity, as though that was entirely the fault of others. Such is the leadership quality of the older elite who, after collaborating with the New Order for so many years, only know how to be businessmen and bureaucrats.
I ask Anom, who has already been regaled with the Indonesian version of "Happy Birthday to You," about PRD's next steps now that the elections have come to their boringly predictable conclusion. "Well, our demand now is that the election results should not be recognized and the parliament should not elect Soeharto president next year." Like the earlier demand of boycotting the election, this demand is more of a statement of principle rather than one the PRD expects to be fulfilled. The two sidekick parties to the government's own party, the PPP and the PDI (now under Soerjadi), will of course ratify the election results as they have in every election. And, of course, the parliament of these yes-men will vote for Suharto, the only candidate, next year. Instead of pointing to a concrete, realizable program, the PRD's demands are meant to provoke the public into recognizing the illegitimacy of this political system. Forbidden from political work, the PRD prisoners are now using their public platform to show the politicians as so many ducks, following single file behind the leader.
The PRD does have a program, indeed, their manifesto was a landmark for the Indonesian left. No opposition organization in the entire post-1965 period has advanced such a clearly formulated and radical critique of Suharto's New Order regime. That is not a matter of judgment; it is an incontrovertible fact. The few opposition groups that have existed have either been too superficial in their analysis (focusing only on Suharto, for instance) or too compromised with the regime's own principles. (Compare, as one instance, the Petition of 50, the locus classicus of disaffected elite sentiment.) The PRD stated its demands to be: 1) The repeal of the "Five Political Laws of 1985" which guide this whole rigged election process; 2) The end of the military's "dual-function", allowing the military to dominate civilian affairs inside the country; 3) The removal of all restrictions on the freedom to form political parties and unions; 4) The end of press censorship and book banning; 5) A referendum on independence in East Timor.
The composition of the party is also unprecedented: it has many women activists – after all, organizing factory workers in Indonesia primarily means organizing women. Dita Sari, the head of the PRD's affiliated trade union, is being held in a prison in Surabaya on a 6 year sentence. (Later, her sentence was reduced to five on appeal and she was shifted to a prison in Malang after a prison riot in Surabaya. The riot was not begun by the three PRD prisoners but they were, of course, blamed for it.) Thirteen of the fourteen PRD prisoners are men but that doesn't reflect the ratio of men to women in the organization as a whole. It probably reflects more the incorrect assumption by the state that the men are more dangerous than the women. The party has also attracted people from all religious backgrounds, Catholics, Muslims, Balinese Hindus. Though most of the people in the party are agnostic, neither advocates nor detractors of religion, some of them are practicing believers. The party, in good Indonesian fashion, is entirely ecumenical when it comes to religion.
Anom, who is half-Catholic and half-Hindu by parentage, explains to me that the PRD is still active in underground work. Many key organizers were never found by the intelligence agencies. One of the party's most beloved members, the one-eyed poet Wiji Thukal, is still at large. The military intelligence officers blinded one of his eyes two years ago during a torture session. As a worker, a kind of folk hero in poor communities, he attracts a particular kind of hatred from the military. If they catch him this time, everyone assumes that he will be killed. Some party members fled to remote locations in Kalimantan, Sumatra and the eastern islands for several months. Thankfully, Indonesia is a big country with a government that, whatever its dictatorial structure, still has an inefficient, non-computerized Third World administration.
Living in lightly policed worker communities, frequently shifting residence, the PRD underground remain involved in organizing actions behind the scenes. Anom says, "They take actions and we do the talking." If one goes by the military's press conferences, every disturbance and riot in the country since last July has been engineered by the PRD. Once this regime has a scapegoat, it never lets it go. The truth is that the PRD only organized peaceful strikes and demonstrations prior to the crackdown the prosecutors never presented any evidence to the contrary and the underground is still committed to peaceful mobilizations. As we know from fact-finding investigations, all of the election-related violence was the work of youth gangs, Golkar and the military.
Despite the tendency to exaggerate and lie, the government has been the PRD's best publicist from the start of the crackdown. Blaming it for the sensational July 27 riots and ranting about the revival of communism, the regime could not have done more to put the PRD in media headlines. The PRD activists were never mentioned in the press before July 27 but afterwards they received daily coverage. Now the acronym PRD is a household term. The more the public read about the PRD and its program the more they came to respect it. The PRD activists were clearly not the sinister villains portrayed by the government. Except for Soeharto's cronies and sycophants, nearly every one admires them by now as fighters for the poor. Even some of the guards at the prison and the courthouse respect them and consider the government's case to be shameful. As one guard said, "We read the papers too, you know."
The guards, who have been enjoying themselves on this visiting day, are politely telling us that our time is up. Before leaving, I have a final chat with Colonel Latief who has spent the last 31 years in prison. In the army, he was a close friend of Suharto's and, he claims, a fellow collaborator in plotting the capture of six generals in the early morning of September 30, 1965. According to Latief, Suharto was in on the kidnapping plot, allowed it to take place, and then, being the only general left untouched, betrayed it and used it as a pretext for catapulting himself to power. He had all the colonels involved in the plot except Latief shot and killed before they could appear in public. Thus, apart from Suharto himself, Latief knows more of the secrets behind the initial events of the New Order regime than anyone else. Precisely because he was present at creation, Suharto had him locked up in an isolation cell for 11 years to ensure his silence. It is remarkable that Latief is still alive, having neither been executed nor having succumbed to illness. He limps on his left leg which became crippled during those years in the isolation cell. Due to a stroke last year, he speaks with some difficulty. He is visibly irritated by the inability of his facial muscles to keep pace with his thoughts. We talk about the possibility of an acupuncturist coming inside the prison to treat his heart condition.
Latief has no problem in understanding the events of July 27 and the crackdown on the PRD: they were just the method of 1965 in miniature. Back in 1965, Suharto accused the PKI, which was peripheral to all the conspiracies inside the military, as the mastermind of the September 30 kidnappings and subsequent killings of the generals. He then directed countrywide massacres arrests of PKI members, sympathizers – anyone who had any connection to the party – over the following six months. Hundreds of thousands of corpses were scattered in the streets and canals or buried in anonymous mass graves. Every Indonesian today who lived through 1965 can recall at least one murdered relative, friend or neighbor. Hundreds of thousands more were arrested and imprisoned without charge in an anti-communist witchhunt. In both 1965 and 1996, Suharto eliminated a leftist organization that had long been an irritant to the military by blaming it for what was, in actuality, an inter-elite conflict.
I turn to Pak Asep who was a member of the PKI captured in 1971 and sentenced to death in 1975. By some strange fate, he has been spared the sentence all these years although Suharto, on a whim, can order his execution at any time. During the 1980s, many of his fellow political prisoners on death row here in Cipinang were arbitrarily taken out and shot by firing squad. Since the PKI is, in New Order mythology, the embodiment of Satan, the military has had no scruples in concentrating the worst of its sadistic practices upon ex-PKI members like Pak Asep. Somehow he has retained his sanity and he converses with a good-natured humor and a precise intellect. Last year, the regime threatened to execute his fellow prisoner Sergeant Major Bungkus who was sentenced twenty five years ago. For unknown reasons, the threat was withdrawn. Bungkus stands nearby shaking hands with the departing visitors. Pak Asep tells us that he has been feeling much better since the PRD prisoners arrived; their animated and intelligent conversation has revived his spirits.
If the suppression of the PKI marked the beginning of Suharto's New Order, the suppression of the PRD promises to mark the beginning of its end. The PRD is wholly composed of youth born after 1965. All they have known is the New Order. The sight of a regime destroying its own offspring has disturbed even middle class people who are increasingly chafing under the corruption and brutality of the military-controlled bureaucracy. The PRD, like the PKI after 1965, might not survive the current repression as a functioning party but, in some sense, it has already accomplished a major upheaval of the political scene. Indonesians have witnessed a group of well educated, principled and articulate youth condemn Suharto's dictatorship and confront it without fear. There is a new sense of militancy and a new standard of critical thinking. In an old phrase of the Indonesian nationalists, the people are in motion (bergerak) and even this regime, with its 17 intelligence agencies and permanent martial law, has no idea where they are going.