Tue, 21 Mar 2000

Party leaders urge an end to political violence

SURABAYA (JP): The recent cases of political violence will endanger the country's democratization and reform process and may lead to a new form of tyranny, politicians said here on Monday.

Speaking in a seminar, Maj. Gen. (ret) Suwarno Adiwijoyo of the National Awakening Party said he was concerned about a tendency of many people who go overboard in undertaking reform, including the use of force.

"We are learning and practicing democracy in our own way now. We're no longer practicing the kinds of democracy applied during the Old Order or the New Order.

"That's why the process for many is confusing and, moreover, prone to anarchy. They shout, they burn and kill each other in the name of democracy. Therefore we have to stop this kind of violence," Suwarno said, adding that objectivity and patience is essential.

Suwarno was invited to a seminar on political violence at Surabaya University, along with National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Matori Abdul Djalil.

Matori was a victim of the alleged political violence when he was attacked by a group of men at his private residence in South Jakarta on March 5.

He suffered 30 stitches in his head and hand due to slash wounds. Police have already declared suspects in this case and have hinted that political motives were behind the attack.

"I believe certain groups angered by the idea of reform started this violence and terror," Matori told the seminar, refusing to elaborate any further.

"Like the previous conflicts between the Chinese and locals in Surakarta, the killing spree of Muslim clerics in Banyuwangi, communal clashes pitting Muslims against Christians in Maluku or ethnic conflict between Madurese migrants and Dayak tribe in Kalimantan, the violence is masterminded. Now it pits PKB versus..," he said without finishing his words.

Matori strongly rejected conclusions that the murder attempt on him was sparked by a personal matter.

"But I cannot rush either into an opinion that the incident was totally politically motivated. That is why I leave it up to Pak Rusdiharjo," he said, referring to the National Police chief.

He suggested that the police not jump into an early conclusion.

"They must analyze the case based on clear evidence. Don't be hasty. This is a risk that we have to bear in order to create a more democratic society," Matori cautioned. He attended the meeting under tight security

Other speakers were Golkar deputy chairman Theo Sambuaga and his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle counterpart Jacob Tobing. (nur/edt)