Indonesia: The Long Oppression

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Geoff Simons profiles the appalling human-rights record of modern Indonesia, against a history of the country from colonial times to the present. He highlights the gross acts of repression (torture, killings, etc.) and the unjust legal system and corrupt nepotism that have protected such violations over the years, and he describes the struggles of the East Timorese and West Papuans for independence. The historical survey focuses on the nationalist campaign against Dutch colonialism, the role of Sukarno as the first president of the Republic of Indonesia, the subsequent political turmoil, the long rule and eventual fall of Suharto and the 1998 appointment of Habibie as the third president of the Republic. Details are given of the current social chaos caused by economic collapse, with focus on the failure of the state institutions - the legacy of the corrupt and repressive Suharto decades - to address the problems. The role of foreign powers is profiled, with emphasis on the involvement of the United States and Britain in supporting attempted coups d'etat against Sukarno, in encouraging the 1960s massacres and in protecting the despotic Suharto regime.