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Anti-communist alliance threatens to "sweep up" leftist books

(AJI/IFEX) -- The following is an action alert by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), of which AJI is a member:

In a letter to Indonesian President Abdurahman Wahid, SEAPA-Jakarta condemned the Indonesian Anti-Communism Alliance (AAK) for threatening to "sweep" all bookstores that sell "leftist" books.

The alliance is a coalition of thirty-three groups - among them the Muslim Youth Movement (GPI), the Hisbullah Front and the Red and White Defender Front, led by East Timorese pro-autonomy leader Eurico Guterres.

On 19 April 2001, the AAK publicly started its movement by burning the book "The Thought of Karl Marx", written by Franz Magnis-Suseno, at the GPI headquarters in central Jakarta.

"The burning of Franz Magnis-Suseno's book was only symbolic," said GPI 's Chairperson HM Suaib Didu. "Next time, all communist publications must be burnt because they poison the young generation."

Previously, the alliance appointed ninety-nine people to select books which they consider "leftist" and belong in the "must be destroyed" category. The books include all Marxist books, publications written by award winning author Pramoedya Ananta Toer and Lebanese author Kahlil Gibran.

The alliance said it will send its members to all bookstores on 20 May - Indonesian National Awakening Day.

Indonesia's largest bookstore chain, Gramedia, has moved all leftist books to its back shelves in all of its forty-two stores.

"We did this to anticipate sweeping by these Muslim groups," said Samuel, a Gramedia bookstore supervisor.

Former GPI Chair Abdul Qadir Djaelani said it may not be right for people to come into a bookstore and take books away. "But if it's for the cause of anti-communism, I think people can accept that," said Djaelani.

SEAPA states that ideology has caused bloody events in Indonesian history and that it continues to taint youth. However, SEAPA suggests that the AAK must put forward its views through peaceful dialogue, rather than violent terror.

The organisation promises that, along with other media advocacy groups worldwide, it will monitor this case with great concern.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the president:
- condemning AAK's threat to the bookstores
- noting that, as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is the right of all people to seek, receive and impart information
- demanding that the AAK stop its violent threat to "sweep" bookstores
- demanding that the president and the Indonesian authorities take action in response to this threat and protect the bookstores
- welcoming the progress with regard to freedom of expression in Indonesia, but adding that the "sweeping" threat is also a threat that the old history of oppression in Indonesia could be repeated

Appeals To


His Excellency Abdurahman Wahid
President, Republic of Indonesia
Office of the President
Bina Graha, Jalan Veteran No.17
Central Jakarta, Indonesia
Fax: +62 21 345 2685

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information, contact Lukas Luwarso or Solahudin at the SEAPA Jakarta office, Jl. Mesjid IV/19 Pejompongan, Jakarta 10210, Indonesia, tel/fax: +62 21 573 2341, e-mail: [email protected], or
the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, AJI), Jl. LAN I no. 12 A, Pejompongan, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia, tel: +62 21 5711 044/056, fax: +62 21 5711 063, e-mail: [email protected], Internet:

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