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Indonesia's national day uncertainty JAKARTA - This Sunday is Indonesia's national day, marking the country's freedom from Dutch colonial rule. As it celebrates its 58th year as an independent nation, it is a time of celebration, but also a time of reflection.
The bomb explosion at Jakarta's Marriott Hotel earlier this month raises difficult questions about Indonesia's stability. And the continuing military conflict in the northwestern province of Aceh is another cause for concern.

Fear of disloyalty

Jakarta is a city adorned with the red and white of Indonesia's national flag - offices, private houses, schools and shopping centres, all proudly flying the standard. The picture is mirrored across the country, including in Aceh, Indonesia's westernmost province where government forces are engaged in a bitter battle with separatist rebels.
The Indonesian military says the patriotic display in Aceh is proof that it is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the Acehnese people. But other observers are more sceptical. With so many soldiers around, they say, local people are terrified of appearing disloyal.
According to official figures, almost 700 rebels have been killed and more than 1.400 captured since the military launched its latest operation three months ago. The numbers are impossible to verify. Journalists and humanitarian organisations are severely restricted in Aceh. Nevertheless it is fair to say the death toll on both sides is rising steadily and there is no sign of an early end to the conflict.

Enemy within

If anything, since the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, the government is more determined than ever to protect the unitary state of Indonesia. The message from senior ministers is that now is the time to stick together. Indonesia, they say, is under attack. And, perhaps the most worrying thing for Indonesia's leaders, as they contemplate 58 years of independence from colonial rule, is that these days the enemies appear to come from within.



Posted in General @ 17 August 2003 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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