State terrorism and the Indonesian press : the 1998 reform movement
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Paul Franks
This paper examines the 1998 reform movement in Indonesia and focuses on the role of the press in exposing state-sponsored terrorism that was perpetuated by the security apparatus of Soeharto’s New Order government. As the reform movement, led by university students, gained momentum in early 1998, the press became increasingly bold in its reporting of the abduction by security forces of anti-government activists and in its reporting of other government abuses of power. With the Indonesian economy in freefall, the Soeharto New Order government lost control over a press emboldened by the rising tide of anti-government and anti-Soeharto sentiment. Many writers have acknowledged the key role of students in the reform movement. This paper will explore some of the links between the press, students and other pro-reform activists. From early 1998 the press were able to put the repressive actions of the New Order firmly on the media agenda and into the public arena. It is argued the press was an active participant in the reform movement and played a key role in the downfall of Soeharto’s authoritarian regime and the exposure of state-sanctioned human rights abuses and acts of terror.