Gerry van Klinken
When Herb Feith died suddenly on 15 November last year, the small group of people most closely involved with Inside Indonesia magazine immediately decided they wanted to honour him in the next edition. The theme was to be 'peace and international collaboration', the two leading ideas of Herb's later years. And here it is! For those readers who did not know Herb personally, we hope this edition will be a fitting if belated introduction to a remarkable pioneer of friendship with Indonesians. If it produced a flood of new enquiries to Australian Volunteers International from adventurous souls we would be especially pleased!
Many people are talking about the need for peace in Indonesia. Including the Indonesian military, who display banners everywhere proclaiming: 'Peace is beautiful'. It is of course. However, if I am not mistaken there is a hidden message in these banners. It is that too many people are not peaceful, and we still need the military to keep the peace between them. That is certainly the message behind the upgrading of the TNI military command in war-torn Aceh last February.
A security-oriented message ignores a persistent record of human rights abuse by the military themselves. Peace enforced by abusing human rights is no peace at all. Indeed, not just the military are an obstacle to peace. The state as a whole remains undemocratic in too many ways. It has a troubled history, going back to colonial times, of deeply deforming local communities. The conflicts we have seen in Indonesia since the end of the New Order have a lot to do with this disturbing history.
Giving peace a chance does not mean returning to New Order militarism. It means democracy and human rights, from the centre to the remotest region. And it means trusting local communities to rediscover their own identity.
Our thanks to all those who keep making Inside Indonesia possible, not least those who volunteer behind the scenes even during the long vacation.
Gerry van Klinken is the Editor of Inside Indonesia