Indonesia: Archipelago of Fear
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Indonesia: Archipelago of Fear is a fascinating and at times unsettling journey into the world's most populous Muslim nation as it struggles to emerge from decades of dictatorship and the plunder of its natural resources.
Andre Vltchek brings together more than a decade of investigative journalism in and around Indonesia to chart the recent history of the country, from the revolution which overthrew General Suharto's genocidal dictatorship in 1998 to the present day. He covers the full breadth of the country from Islamic Aceh to mostly Catholic East Timor.
Tracing Indonesia's current problems back to Suharto's coup and the genocide of 1965 – and the support given by the West to Suharto – Vltchek provides an intimate and deeply humane insight into the hopes and fears of Indonesia's people.
indicators for the country. How could they be known if even data on the total number of people inhabiting the archipelago cannot be taken for granted, which makes it impossible to measure the economic performance or social situation? The government-released data claim that there are 237 million Indonesians inhabiting the archipelago. But is it true? Scott Murray,17 one of the world’s leading statisticians, who has worked in Indonesia on many occasions, explained: The best estimates that we have
of power. How much does their vote really matter? How democratic is Indonesian society? It is true that elections are held, but are they free and fair? The Western media and academia Indonesia maintext.indd 78 6/14/2012 11:59:57 AM d e m o c r ac y a n d h u m a n r i g h t s 79 tend to focus on Jakarta and Bali, but the great majority of the Indonesian people live in the countryside and in small cities and towns. There, money speaks, and the fear, even horror, of going against local
On one occasion, I witnessed the aftermath of mass rapes performed by Indonesian troops around the town of Ermera, interviewing a priest who decided to risk his own life and hide dozens of women in the cellar of his church. I was tracked, detained and brutally interrogated; my films (it was before the digital era) were confiscated and developed, then were most likely destroyed. Only the intervention by a couple of Australian anthropologists, who were visiting the area and who promptly contacted
intimidation by former soldiers. Often there is physical violence.’ On July 8, 2011, Reuters reported that ‘A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp by Indonesian villagers who accused the oil giant’s security forces of committing murder, torture and other wrongdoing.’21 It would be useful to investigate what exact percentage the TNI forms in such ‘security forces’. According to the testimonies of local people, they are in the majority. Back in Jakarta, Haris
malls of Jakarta, in the new marinas and private jets, in the columns of grotesque villas in Menteng, or in condominiums purchased in foreign cities by officials, generals and corrupt businessmen? Even Indonesia maintext.indd 136 6/14/2012 12:00:00 PM j a k a rta b l e e d i n g t h e i s l a n d s 137 during the Suharto reign, there were hardly any private yachts and jets. Now there are hundreds, while the people of Indonesia are becoming poorer and poorer and the islands are