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Indonesian Religious and political leaders make public anti-Chinese statements.

May 1998


Witnesses said the mob shouted "Let's wipe out the Chinese" and "Let's kill the Chinese" as they rampaged through. Indonesia's ethnic Chinese are a frequent target during times of hardship due to their perceived wealth in the largely Moslem nation and control of local commerce. (Reuters, 13 May 1998)

At least 10 people died in riots in Jakarta Wednesday, nine of them believed to be Chinese burned when mobs set their shops and homes on fire, residents in the western area of the Indonesian capital said. (CNN, 13 May 1998)

Much of the most recent violence in Indonesia has been targeted at the Chinese community. Chinese-owned shops in north and west Jakarta were looted and set ablaze on Wednesday night. Reports have confirmed that nine people were killed when a bar was set on fire overnight in the city's Chinese quarter. (BBC News, 14 May 1998)

Recently, anti-Chinese ethnic turbulence has been spread in some areas in Indonesia, and the worst riot hit in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, on May 13, 1998. On the May 1998 alone, there were several riots that were followed by looting, killing, raping and other violent acts against Chinese Indonesians and also the destruction of churches and other Chinese owned buildings in Indonesia.

In early May 1998, riots had taken place in Medan, and in the following days they began spreading to several big cities in Indonesia, namely Jakarta, Solo, Palembang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Ujung Pandang. These riots have turned into anti-Chinese pogroms similar to past incidents that often happened in Indonesia. Since the year of 1966, the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia have been the target of inhumane murder and pillage by the indigenous Indonesians. Not less than half a million of the Chinese ethnic minority in Indonesia were killed. They lost countless wealth to looting by indigenous Indonesians. All this happened without any regard from the Indonesian government.

Now, apparently all of these incidents would not be the last but may be rekindled in the near future. As observed from these incidents, the anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia was apparently derived from political issues - not from social issues as some indigenous politicians claim. Some powerful political groups have succeeded in implementing anti-Chinese doctrine in Indonesia, casting the Chinese Indonesians as the target of the indigenous Indonesians as part their political rhetoric.

These ideas are present in many statements which attempt to scapegoat the ethnic Chinese whenever there was a political problem, as well as in the recent crisis in Indonesia. Regretfully the statements were mostly issued by some leaders of intellectual religious organizations and even some higher government officials.

It is not impossible that all of anti-Chinese incidents were mobilized by a powerful politic organization in Indonesia. Some of their statements are noted below:

  1. During a press release broadcast on the television last year, one of the Ministers from Cabinet VI who also as a member of the People's Advisory Assembly (a parliamentary faction), Mr.Azwar Anas from Golkar said that "If Chinese Indonesian would not help the indigenous (Indonesian), are they not (Chinese Indonesian) asking to be looted?"
  2. In early 1998, Mr. Aburizal Bakrie (the owner of Bakrie Group Company, an indigenous Indonesian conglomerate in Indonesia, also as a member of parliamentary faction from Golkar and the chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, pointed out that "This the right time to distribute Chinese Indonesian wealth to the indigenous (Indonesian)" during the parliamentary faction meeting.
  3. In February '98 powerful Moslem leaders and generals (including a close relative of the president) openly denounced the Chinese and Christians as the country's enemies who "packed with foreign countries" to conspire against Indonesia, bringing the national currency (Rupiah) to its collapse. Their denouncement opened the floodgate for the rioting on 2/14/97 in North coastal area of Central Java, during which 6 churches were burned.

Beside the above statements, some improper actions taken by the Indonesian government regarding to the anti-Chinese incidents in Indonesia indicate that the political movements behind the anti-Chinese riots involve some powerful leaders of the armed forces as well as high-ranking government officials. These actual actions taken by the Indonesian government support the facts :

  1. Pictures taken during the riots showed very clearly that there were no serious exertion from the police and army forces to contain the riots, not until the rioters had finished looting, killing and raping the Chinese Indonesians and burning their buildings, including churches. This is very ironic if we looked upon the student demonstrations which was limited mainly to the campus. The students were surrounded by large numbers of fully-armored police and soldiers, and even armored vehicles. The state of alert was as if they were in a war zone. On the contrary, during life-threatening incidents targeting Chinese Indonesians, there were only a few policeman watching the rioters as they violently pillaged and murdered. The police did not provide any reaction as they allowed the rioters to conduct such things. Some pictures taken show a number of police or army troopers who came after the rioters had done their evil, who did not arrest the rioters and even treated the rioters with friendliness, giving them the greeting gesture.
  2. After looking at these incidents, all normal human beings must agree that people who loot, kill, rape, and burn churches are criminals and should be sentenced severely. Up to now, there is no serious indication from the Indonesian government that these crimimals would be prosecuted.

We are the Chinese Indonesians would like to ask for helping hand from all of the International Communities who care about the life and death of Chinese Indonesians in Indonesia which are now living in fear and danger:

  1. Too many Chinese Indonesians have been the victims of violence even murder by indigenous Indonesian in Indonesia.
  2. Too many Chinese Indonesian girls and women have been the victim of rraping by indigenous Indonesians in front of public view in Indonesia
  3. Too many churches have been destroyed and burned to ashes by indigenous Indonesians in Indonesia.

To avoid the same incident on the future, we the Chinese Indonesians call on all International Communities to do the following:

  1. Condemn the acts of violence that conducted by some indigenous Indonesians on the Chinese Indonesians in Indonesia.
  2. Condemn the act of destroying the churches that conducted by some indigenous Indonesians in Indonesia.
  3. Press the Indonesian government to conduct an investigation and exercise the law to the perpetrators who were involved directly or indirectly in the incidents which targeted the Chinese Indonesian and/or churches.
  4. Presssure the Indonesian government to make guarantees that no such racial incidents will be happen to the Indonesia Chinese in Indonesia anymore.
  5. Address the Indonesian government that Indonesia will be put under a trade embargo or other sanctions if such racial incidents ever happen again to the Chinese Indonesians in Indonesia.

Finally, we hope that our voice would be heard by the International Community, from the deepest of love we thank your for your cares.