Sunday, March 06, 2005

Debunking the Myth of Indonesian Nationalism

Size 15 x 22 x 2 cm
Format softcover, 320 pages
Planned publication date June 2006


“From Sabang to Merauke” is a well-known cry for unity in Indonesia. It was used in a national song and in speeches to build up a nation and to describe its territorial sovereignty in thousands of islands that span from Sabang in northern Sumatra to Merauke, a small town in Papua, in Indonesia’s easternmost island.

But the phrase has became a mere propaganda since the 1950s. Indonesia manipulated the UN-supervised referendum in Papua. Indonesia also brutally surpressed the East Timorese, the Acehnese, the Chinese minority and other groups. East Timor finally gained independence in 1999. The Acehnese, the Papuans and many others still strive for independence in this world’s largest archipelago.

Journalist Andreas Harsono travelled from Sabang to Merauke, visiting the sites of ugly ethnic and religious violence as well as the places where Indonesian army orchestrated massive killings to debunk the myth on Indonesian nationalism. He went to Miangas Island in northern Sulawesi and Rote Island, near East Timor, to contemplate about nationalism. Harsono is a journalist who heads the Pantau media think tank in Jakarta. He was a Nieman Fellow on Journalism at Harvard University.

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