Magazine article New Internationalist

Shock Treatment: Abuse of Chinese Minority Provokes Fears for the Future

Magazine article New Internationalist

Shock Treatment: Abuse of Chinese Minority Provokes Fears for the Future

Article excerpt

INDONESIAN-CHINESE have been forced to ask the question: 'Do we have a future in Indonesia?' The answer is 'no' for the tens of thousands who have fled the country. Many more are considering flight or are making desperate preparations. A company selling stainless-steel and leather chastity belts has received hundreds of orders from people horrified by the experience or reports of gang rapes of Indonesian-Chinese women during rioting in May. Scattered incidents of the rape of young Indonesian-Chinese girls are still being reported in Bandung and Solo. One shopkeeper in the area said he recently attended a funeral of a 14-year-old relative who was gang-raped in front of her parents. The girl later committed suicide.

The Chinese minority - which comprises 3.5 per cent of the country's population and controls much of its wealth - has been the target of arson, looting and beatings in past years. but the scale of the May violence, including the rapes, has left the Chinese community in shock. Many of them say that now is the time to speak out. After decades of keeping a low profile, their emancipation is being discussed openly in public seminars, the press, political parties and mixed-race community groups.

Some indigenous Indonesian groups want to resuscitate the economy using affirmative action to help their livelihoods. They'd like the Indonesian-Chinese to teach them business know-how. Indonesian-Chinese hope this would allow their full participation in society and national life. Both groups say that a new partnership depends on the Government investigating the role of everyone - including high-ranking military officers - in the violence. …

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