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Papernas declaration in Medan cancelled after harassment by right-wing thugs
Koran Sindo - April 19, 2007
Medan – A declaration and inauguration by the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) in the North Sumatra provincial capital of Medan has been canceled. The event was planned to be held on the grounds of the Merdeka Medan Square on Tuesday Afternoon.
The chairperson of Papernas North Sumatra, Johan Merdeka said that because the political situation in North Sumatra has been hotting up, in the end they decided to postpone the declaration and inauguration.
Johan said that they had initially planed to hold the event on Wednesday April 18 at the Merdeka Medan Square. "Why was it put off, firstly because the political situation in the North Sumatra is hotting up. Secondly because of the communist stigmatisation by the FPI (Islamic Defenders Front) and concerns that there would be an attack. Thirdly, comrades at the local level weren’t ready yet", he explained.
Meanwhile the head of the North Sumatra FPI Indra Suheri rejected claims that people from former President Suharto’s New Order dictatorship were using FPI for their own ends. According to Suheri, accusations such as this are slanderous. “These kinds of accusations are slanderous. During the administrations of [former presidents] Habibie, Gus Dur and Megawati, we were often slandered in this way. Whereas our aim is none other than uphold the law in this country”, he said. (m syahyan rw)
The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) was founded in 1998 by Habib Muhammad Rizieq Shihab and had links with the then commander of the Jakarta police. It was initially set up along with other military-backed Muslim vigilantes groups such as Pamswakarsa to counter student demonstrations ahead of the 1999 Special Session of the People's Consultative Assembly, which was to hear the accountability speech of former President Suharto’s hand picked successor President B.J. Habibie. The group later went on to adopt a conservative religious ideological platform and is best known for vandalising Jakarta nightspots. There have been numerous allegations that this is simply a camouflage to extort money from gambling and prostitution businesses.
[Translated by James Balowski.]
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