The story so far:
- 1600s-WWII: Indonesia mostly a Dutch colony
- WWII: Japanese thrown out of Indonesia
- 1949: Dutch give up postwar attempt to regain colony. Indonesia becomes
- 1965: Attempted military coup by the PKI (communist party) against Sukarno's govt, followed countercoup by rightist army officers. 500,000-1,000,000 of PKI members, sympathizers, and suspects and ethnic Chinese massacred ("The Year of Living Dangerously" is set in this time).
- 1966: Sukarno becomes head of government
- 1975: East Timor given up by Portugal. Govt collapses. Looks like
communists may form new government. Indonesia invades, wiping out
- 1970s-1990s: Over 30+ years, Suharto and family and friends at the trough, snarfing up a percentage of development and investment money. Their combined wealth--surprise!--equals Indonesia's debt to richer countries. Not too many complaints from people who matter UNTIL
- Fall 1997: Foreign investors panic in all of Southeast Asia when it looks like those countries have little to show for all the money poured into it. Suharto's kleptocracy less palatable when rupiah loses 70% of its value.
- 1998: IMF says Indonesia has to reform and Suharto & Co. must stop "crony
capitalism" and stop subsidizing food, gasoline, etc. Guess which reforms he implements
- January: Suharto agrees to stop spending state money on food subsidies,
otherwise, business as usual. "Reform" falls on backs of poor and working
classes. Rioting, some of it against Chinese shopkeepers. Peaceful student
- March: Suharto gets himself elected to another 5-year term as President.
Students continue demonstrating
- April: Students call for Suharto's ouster
- Early May: More rioting, mostly against Chinese. Suharto leaves country for
- 12 May: Government troops fire on peacefully demonstrating students, killing at least 6.
- 13 May: Still more rioting, but more often aimed at Suharto's
relatives' and friends' businesses. Hooray! Crony-owned car dealership
trashed. General Wiranto, chief of armed forces, apologizes (!) for army
firing on demonstrators. Some units of Indonesian marines march with
students, mainly to protect them against police. Signals split in military,
Suharto's main power base.
- 19 May: Suharto promises to step aside "real soon now" and roll back
some IMF economic reforms that fall most heavily on the poor.
Announcement booed by students. Muslim opposition leader Amien Rais says "a
million" people will demonstrate tomorrow in Jakarta.
- 20 May: Lots of demonstrating students from a variety of groups, but
probably not a million in Jakarta. A pro-Suharto paramilitary group
called Pancasila arrives at Parliament, but students tell them to piss
off, which they do. Rais rescinds call for demo, citing heavy military
deployment in city. However, according to NPR, lots of demos in other
cities. Wiranto appears to support reform but not total overhaul of government.
And still no word from East Timor and no definitive U.S. position.
- 21 May: Soeharto resigns, names longtime crony B. J. Habibie successor for remainder of 5-year term. Military, including Gen Wiranto, backs choice. Students happier, if Habibie only stays a couple of months. East Timor gets 3 paragraphs in Washington Post story
- 22 May: Gen Wiranto solidly backs Habibie. Opposition less happy. Troops quietly evict students from Parliament grounds. Wiranto relieves Prabowo of command. Washington Post carries reports of U.S. trained Kopassus troops under Prabowo responsible for bulk of human rights violations, especially kidnapping and torture of opposition figures in last few months
Written under the influence of Sundanese Gamelan music, Kecak Monkey Chants of Bali, Soundtrack of "Akira" and a cup of java.
- Soeharto - pig, out of a job for now
- B.J. Habibie - Longtime Soeharto crony, typical oligarchical pig, has none of personality cult benefits of Soeharto and military not happy with having to buy from him
- Megawati Soekarno - daughter of Sukarno, who was ousted in '65. Democratic activist
- Amien Rais - Muslim opposition leader
- Gen. Wiranto - chief of armed forces. Possible good guy
- Gen. Prabowo - pig, married to a daughter of pig. Commands 8000-strong Kopassus, U.S. Special Forces-trained elite troops. Probably responsible for most of army human rights abuses. Fits profile of traditional (Cold War) U.S. ally. What, are the Dulles brothers still alive? Have we learned nothing?
- Ramos Horta - East Timorese who got Nobel Peace Prize last year. Make his move now?
- Pius Lustrilanang - democratic activist who was kidnapped and tortured, but was let go. Fled to the Netherlands