Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Indonesian activist addresses meetings

Indonesian activist addresses meetings (1997)
By Bernard Wunsch

BRISBANE -- Robby Hartono, a pro-democracy and labour activist with the PRD (People's Democratic Party) in Indonesia, addressed several meetings in Brisbane last week.
In a four-day tour, Hartono was able to tell many different people about the situation in Indonesia after the regime's crackdown last July.

Hartono's schedule included a public meeting at the Resistance Centre, a meeting with trade unionists, meetings with Maritime Union workers and an address to the socialist youth organisation Resistance.

Throughout these meetings, people heard of the repressive tactics of the military in intervening in labour disputes and in pro-democracy demonstrations. Hartono explained that the PRD and its affiliated trade union group PPBI (Indonesian Centre for Labour Struggles) are forced to work underground because of the military repression.

He continued by saying that when organising workers in Indonesia, ``It is important to unite people from different factories around political demands, not just for economic demands. That is why a central demand of the PRD and the PPBI is to repeal the dual function of the military which allows them to intervene in civil matters."

The talk to the MUA workers was very well received, and Hartono thanked them for their solidarity, shown through industrial action. The MUA in Brisbane ports banned the unloading of Indonesian ships for 48 hours on five occasions last year.

Nick Everett, ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor) coordinator for Brisbane, summed up the tour by saying, ``It was a very useful learning experience. It is important that more of the public is informed about the struggle of the Indonesian people for democracy and social justice. ASIET will be carrying out solidarity actions and campaigning throughout the year to do this in trade unions, university campuses and on the streets.''

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