maandag 27 april 2015

Baskara between Sukarno and Soeharto

Baskara T. Wardaya is an Indonesian Jesuit priest, a doctor of history from Marquette University, Wisconsin. His doctoral dissertation was about the relations between USA and Indonesia, 1955-1965. He has published several books on the Tragedy of 1965, the need to give honest and detailed accounts of what happened in the period 1965-1980 with the great number of victims of the so-called anti-Communist killings (estaimated between half and one million).
Last week I read three of his publications. In 2007 he published Menguak Misteri Kekuasaan Soeharto (Yogyakarta: Galang Press, 2007) is a critical study of many aspects of the Soeharto government. The elections of 1955 were quite fair, but under Soeharto (after 1965) there was only manipulation and oppression. The Tragedy of 1965 must be cleard and accepted as part of Indonesia's Past, but in a critical way. Until now no open research had been possible. Baskara concentrates here on the injustice as to East Timor.
In 2012 Baskara published Luka Bangsa Luka Kita. Pelanggaran HAM Masa Lalu dan Tawaran Rekonsiliasi (Yogyakarta: Galang), where most of the book as a reprint of the official report by the National Committee of Human Rights about 'The Event of 1965-1966' (Peristiwa 1965-1966, to use a more neutral terminology.
In 2006 Baskara already published a book about modern Indonesian history, beginning with Sukarno attacking colonialism. The second chapter is about the involvement of the USA in several episodes of the Sukarno Period, especially the revolts of PRRI and Permesta. Third chapter is about the Tragedy of 1965, while the fourth a last chapter is a reappraisal of Sukarno as the Guru of the Indonesian Country and a comparison with Soeharto, which is more positive for Sukarno, although both leaders are blamed for authoritarian rule.
As to the tragedy of 1965 Baskara divided the reality in three issues: 1) what happened in Jakarta between 28 September-5 October 1965? He states again and again that the 'leaders' of G30S were member of the army, Angkatan Darat, like Soeharto, not of the navy or the air force, as is often mentioned. Soeharto knew some of them in person and met them just a few days previous to 30 September; 2) what happened between mid October and late December 1965? In Mid-October the kilings began in Semarang (Chinese) and Boyolali (Javanese farmers) and concentrated on Central Java. In Novembers this moved to East Java and in December it was in Bali that these atrocities took place in Bali with probably more than 100,000 dead. Who was the orgestrator, the dalang. It was definitely not Sukarno. The names of Soeharto and Sarwo Edhie (father in law of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, until 2014 President of Indonesia) are not mentioned. The ambassador of the USA is mentioned as someone who supported the killoings. But who was/were active in the field? 3) the long process of putting people in prison and out of society.
Baskara is not the only one to write about these issues. Many sections of the book 2006 were already published in the newspaper kompas and read at seminars. But he is open and outspoken. It is not the final study. I missed one element of the process here: who were the demonstrators against Sukarno in 1966? KAMI came together in the house of the Catholic students. Cosmas Batubara, a Catholic Batak, was an important drive behind the student protests against Communism and Sukarno. Fellow Jesuit Father Joop Beek, was also important in his influence on students. This could have been elaborated further!

Mufti Shaikh Dr. Shawqi Allam in Utrecht, 21 April 2015; mutual statements of takfir!

Dr. Shawqi Allam is Great Mufti of Al-Azhar and/or of Egypt. It is an official position in the Egyptian Islamic Republic, although he is elected for this functionby some kind of a senate of Al-Azhar University. He is in a position to check death penalties in Egypt. He was in the Netherlands for a goodwill trip, to promote Islam as a religion of peace, not of extremism and violence. He had an encounter with members of parliament, with the mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmad Aboutalib (born in Morocco, but since early youth in the Netherlands, respected member of the Labour Party and already in his second term as mayor of the second town of the country and the big harbour).
Dr. Sawqi Allam also gave a public lecture at Utrecht University. I was thionking of putting him the question what he should do with the death sentence for the leader of the Ikhwan al-Muslimin, but had no opportunity to ask him that question. He held his speech on "Islam and the challenge of religious extremism". According to Qur'an 2:143 the Muslims are ummatun wasatan, a people of the middle, justly balanced. Out of the 6000 verses of the Qur'an only 300 have a legal character. Out of the 60,000 prophetic traditions only some 2,00 are related to legal matters, while the rest is a general call to good moral character.
It was a funny place where he held his talk: the Maskeradezaal with the masks used at the procession for the anniversary of the university in the early decades of the 20th century.
Islam, is a flexible religion and adapted to the great civilizations of' Persians, Indians, Chinese and Greeks'.  Of course, I missed here the Indonesians.
Amr Riyad held a nice speech for him in fluent Arabic, as well as Christian Lange (below during the exhcange of gifsts).
One of the 'most common and influential manifestations of this ideological extremism is the phenomenon of infidelization (takfir)..' But these people are not true Muslims. At this instance I was thinking that 'Islam' is not a good concept to be used in academic discourse, because it is not clear what should be understood with Islam in practice. Extremists have their own definition while other reject that their Islam is real or true Islam. Muhammad Arkoun already stated more than 20 years ago that Islam should not be used in academic debate. Wilfred Cantwell Smith even some 50 years ago made statements that words like Buddhism, Islam, Christianity have ne clear meaning and should not be used further.

Crossing between Abrahamic Traditions

Christian Lange is Professor of Islamic Studies in Utrecht. His main interest is in mystical traditions, texts from the 10th-15th century, analyzed in an atmosphere that puts the intention of the authors central. What did they want to tell us?
He convened an international conference in Utrecht, 19-21 March 2015 under the tile of The aethetics of Crossing. Experiencing the beyond in Abrahamic Traditions.

The venue for the conference was close to the 'old city campus' of Utrecht University, but not in a university building, but in the evangelical church of Booth Straat. A quite solemn building with an old organ, but all modern equipment to make televesion recording of the spirited services with much music.
Martha Frederiks opened the conference.
Due to other obligations I could only attend the first session. It was a rich mixture of topics. Hans Belting (born 1934, worked at various German universities, but also in Vienna and the USA), is specialist in theory of esthetics and intercultural exchange. He held a very broad speech on exchange, especially in geometric figures and designs between Muslims, Indians and Christians.
He was followed by four presentations where the idea of (nearly) physical tasting the divine was central. It was not the critical mood of explaining religion with social-political history, but a very congenial atmosphere where the Christian, Jewish and Muslim texts were taken at face value. Laurens Minnema was sitting besides me. He had come because he likes the idea and practice of cross-cultural interpretations. We were both surprised by the irenic, creative and even sometimes somewhat uncritical atmosphere of the conbference. Until then.

zondag 19 april 2015

90 Years Nahdlatul Ulama

During the last months I have read the history of Muhammadiyah in Kotagede as written by Mitsuo Nakamura. That is a detailed survey of development in the large organization in a small town close to Yogyakarta. Much have changed since 1970. Schools and hospitals/clinics are no longer the centre, but NGOs, many small mosques and mushalla (from 2 mosques to more than 50 since 1970!). There is more acceptation of traditional javanese culture and no longer the easy rejection of TBC: Takhayyul, Bid'an and Churafat.Mitsuo wrote this extended version of his doctoral dissertation of the 1970s quite recently and it has now become an entirely new book.The review will appear in BKI.
After reading this book on Muhammadiyah I have turned to NU with the book by Nur Khalid Ridwan on NU _ Bangsa, 1914/2010. Martin van Bruinessen had a double copy and this made it possible to read it with taking notes. It is a book of small but many pages: 628 in total. in 104 short chapters many events and persons are presented. Bangsa stands here for other national organizations and most of all national politics, ministers, parliament. It has more the smell of traffic jams in Jakarta than the dust of quiet pesantren of East Java.
It begins with the many organizations that preceded Nahdlatul Ulama. In 1914 Wahab Hasbullah began with Tashwirul Afkar in Surabaya (also Mitsuo has many other organizations in the 1910s and 1920s, finallymerging with Muhammadiyah).. Wahhabism is decribed as a cruel organization: the victory in Arabia in the 1920s cost the life of about half a million Muslims (43). Chapter 9 is about the japanese period, where some Nu people were active in Masyumi. There was Tan Malaka, Darul Islam: left and right as danger for the Indonesian State. SMK is Kartosuwirjo, Denhaq is The Hague (106: the book is full with writing errors, but still nice and easy reading for its clear style). Page 83 has a nice formula of a Resolusi Jihad. Muslims have to fight the Dutch, as long as they are within a distance of 94 km. The split between Masyumi and NU is described in a quite detached way.
In the 1960s there was LEKRA, the lack of political influence for NU, G30S and the killing of many people suspected of communism. But the involvement of Ansor in this process is neglected: still silence about the period 1965-1977. Pater Beek is mentioned on page 183 as a person close to Ali Moertopo and the intelliogence service BAKIN. CSIS is not mentioned by name, but only as lembaga studi yang terkenal itu.. that well known research institute.
Several individuals are discussed. Idham Chalid is very present, as a surviging politican. Subchan ZE is more or less the scapegoat for the killings, because of his strong anti-communism (195-7: he was in the from line of those who were involved).
In the 1970s there was the merging of political party and the rise of PPP, where the position of NU was weak up to nil. In the 1980s there was the debate about Pancasila as asa tunggal, and Nu very meak. In the 1990s the rise of ICMI and the debate about NU returning to its original format as a religious and social but not political organization. In this period Abdurrahman Wahid more and more dominates NU.
Many events are mentioned shortly. Some neglected: nothing about the riots in Poso, Maluku, and Lasykar Jihad is not mentioned at all. (my note on page 383). On 436 I made a note that I saw nothing about the book Ilusi Negara Islam. But many personalities and incidents are mentioned, although most shortly. For an update of the national and political history of the NU this was nice reading.

zaterdag 11 april 2015

An International People's Tribunal to investigate violations of Human Rights in 1965-1966 in Indonesia?

IPT 1965 stands for the initiative to begin an International People's Tribual about the violations of human rights in Indonesia, following the Coup of 30 September 1965. They organised the first (of probably many more) events to commemorate 30 September 1965. The purpose of their activity is to have an international tribunal. Ideal would be an honest tribunal in Indonesia, as was the plea by former minister Jan Pronk. But that will be impossible, so long as major figures of Golkar and some other parties do not want to recognise many mistakes for the period. Leading lawyar Nursyahbani Katjasungkana told us that recently a meeting in Solo to discuss the violations of human rights in the period and to ask recompensation for the innocent victims were blocked by the police and a militia calling itself FAKI, Forum Antikomunis Indonesia.
The IFT should be something respected. If possible prominent supporters among the Indonesians in Europe, but also from Dutch academic, social and political institutions. The venu for the conference on Friday 10 April 2015 was in style: the New Church of the Hague, built in the 1650s as a first Protestant Church (besides the churches taken over from the Roman Catholics). Great place, excellent service for drinks and snacks: in line with any international lobby circuit.
 Chair of the seminar was Prof. Saskia Wierenga. She has written already in the 1990s about the deliberate process to criminalize the Communist women organizations. First lecture was given by Jan Pronk, who defined Dutch reactions towards violations of human rights in Indoesia, both by the Dutch army and the later Indonesian government. He saw a policy of slincing all critical voices. The appease the Dutch former soldiers/veterans, fear for financial claims. There was a long lasting press campaign to see Sukarno not as a freedom fighter but as a terrorist and economic concern. Pronk defended his policy in IGGI, restoring economic growth ('also the poor have taken profit from the economic recovery during Orde Baru') but also asking attention for the political prisoners.
After Jan Pronk there was a report from Cees Flinterman, also a Dutch representative in UN human rights committees. He blamed the Indonesian government which, until now, rejects to react on international criticism about silencing the 1965-1966 atrocities.
The second session brought two Indonesians: Katjasungkana, already mentioned above and Dr. Todung Mulya Lubis. The last defined some of the major issues in human rights problems: Papua, East Timor, Aceh, but also 1965-1966: in all these cases the perpetrators are still free, no victims are recognised, or indeed very few. There is a Reconciliation Bill under debate at the Indonesian pariliament for the year 2015, but the organisation Kontras has seen the draft and concluded that there it soo much sympathy for nice words and no real attack on the perpetrators. KOMHAMNAS has written an open and honest report about 1965-1966, but the perpetrators are still  part of the government. An ad hoc tribunal like the Yugoslavia Tribunal will not be possible. The only way out is a somewhat hybrid national-international unofficial tribunal.
Until now only Abdurrachman Wahid has given public apology, but no general has appeared for the sessions of KOMHAMNAS. There are many other problems in the country: corruption, reformation, the political future of Papua.
Left: Dr. Todung Mulya Lubis; centre: Nursyahbani Katjasungkana. Sitting under the enormous pulpit of this (former) Protestant Church
There were about 120-150 participants. Some 75% were 'Indonesians in Exile' who work hard for this ideal. There were no active politicans (with the exception of Prof. Cees Flinterman, member of UN committees for the Netherlands). More social basis, strong support is needed.
Jerry van Klinken discussed the publication by Mery Kolimon and other from Kupang about the position of women, whose husband were killed/executed for being communists. They had and still have much problems in living in West Timor: Forbidden memories. Last presentation was by Martijn Eickhoff from NIOD the Dutch centre for study about World War II. He joined a team to search in Semarang for mass graves and rituals now performed in these places.
Above we see here the core of people working for IPT1965: as researchers, translators, supporters. Some 25 people, most of them Indonesians in Exile. In late 2015 they will publish a great report of some 700 pages: there is a great difference in style of historic and legal argumentation. What is enough for history-writing is often not enough for legal arguments. There were made parallels with the Ruanda tribunal, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee. This is an excellent initiative that still must develop in order to be important for modern Indonesian society.

No New Law on Protection of Religious Freedom?

Minister of Religion Lukman Hakim Syaifuddin has since mid/2014 promised that he would propose a new bill on religious freedom for Indonesia. This should give more protection to religious minorities like Ahmadiyah, Shi´a Muslims and groups like Bahai UCAN published on 8 April a message that he could not make the deadline of March 2015 for a first draft of the bill and so it was rejected as part of the parliamentary agenda for 2015/2019.
Not only some famous cases for Christian Churches were mentioned in relation to this plan (like in Bogor the GKI Yasmin Church, in Bekasi the Batak HKBP Filadelfia Church), but also Muslim buildings like an Ahmadiyah mosque in Sawangan (nico swimming pool on the 'old road'between Jakarta and Bogor), a Syafiiyah musalla in Den Pasar and Az-Zikra mosque in Sentul, Bogor. Mushola Asysyafiiyah was a 'private chapel', probably besides abasic Islamic school or Madrasah Ibtidaiyah. However, besides this picture (below) I could not find much debate about this musalla or mushola to be turned into a mosque.
That a primary school already has a graduation ceremony or Wisuda seems to be a deflation of the terminology. Anyway, The support of the KOMNASHAM for these issues has not yet lead to a process for a new and better law in this field.
Looking for more information here, I saw that KOMNAS HAM on 12 February 2015 has (again) called for an investigation about ´the events of 1965/1966´. The purpose should be reconciliation and the topic: Human Rights abuse in 1965-1966, all quite vague, but enough for this purpose.

donderdag 9 april 2015

Ritual Gunung Kemukus by Floribertus Rahardi

In earlier blogs I wrote about two novels by F. Rahardi: the very funny Para Calon Presiden (2009:return of Jesus on earth to give advice to candidates for presidency) and Lembata (about a priest who turns into development worker). The novel Ritual Gunung Kemukus is about a place of pilgrimage in a region East of Surakarta, where people can receive help in material problems by praying, bathing and having sex with another than the own permanent partner.
I found the book less interesting than the earlier books. Central figure is some journalist Meilan, who interviews people who have their material problems and seek help at 'Gunung Kemukus', located very close to the Kedung Ombo dam. Central figures are a seller of bakso, Sarmin and one Yuyun. There is not a real interesting story, no development.
One more intellectual chapter is no 13 with the title of Cultural Revolution. There is a priest (again: there is much Catholic clergy in these books), Romo Drajad. This priest thinks that the ritual of Gunung Kemukus is some kind of cultural revolution. "Why should on the feudal class and the rich people be able to enjoy free sex? And why only man? Why is there no freedom for women?" He dreams of true equal position for men and women. In order to see this dream coming true there was the myth of Pangeran Samodro and Nyai Ontrowulan.."(124-125). But then the story moves to the debate about the third letter from Fatima and possible origins of human race making structer rules for sex.Apparently the book was selling not too badly.