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Manoa 12.1 (2000) 224-229

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from Minding the Darkness (IV.xi)

Peter Dale Scott

21 August 1998

In the Bishop's Palace in Oporto
         overlooking the old port
     on the river Douro

with its huge advertisements for port
        Graham Dow the same Scots
    families as in India and Montreal

where we all spoke on East Timor
        including the leader
    of a Muslim student group from Indonesia

facing possible imprisonment
         when he went back home
    George Aditjondro (already

banished from his country
        his passport invalidated
     for defending East Timor

and showing how Indonesia's wealth
         was not so much Chinese
    as concentrated in the hands

of a tiny clique
        surrounding Soeharto)
    the Argentinian lawyer

who in the time of the generals
           spoke for the mothers of the desaparacidos
     and most dramatically [End Page 224]

X the East Timorese
         whose own risk on her return
     was not arrest but disappearance

and who against the advice
         of her friend Professor Barbedo
     told the group how she had been raped

I finally met Max Lane
         the translator of Pramoedya
     Indonesia's greatest living writer

often mentioned as a candidate
         for the Nobel Prize for literature
     and I said to him Pramoedya

is so original
         even the reviewers who praise him
     are too Western in their outlook

to follow what he has done
         for the genre of the novel
     at the end of the Buru Quartet

and Max explained He will never
         be given a Nobel
     all of the current writers

flourishing under Soeharto
         are dead set against it
     Of course I thought

you cannot be powerful in a state
         and unlike it in character
     Thus Pramoedya was thrown in prison

first by the Dutch
         for championing independence
     then by Sukarno's army

for challenging the treatment of Chinese
         and then for fourteen years without trial
    by Soeharto's New Order [End Page 225]

while until recently
         students were tortured and imprisoned
     for sharing his books

When asked to apologize
         Pramoedya      a meditator
     (the sound of your breath

a form of samadhi)
         wrote the following
     I myself am Javanese

I was educated to Javanese ideals
         guided by the Mahabharata
     at whose climax they bathe

in the blood of their own brothers
         while other peoples who
     have managed to slip their shackles

are the nations that rule the world
         Even in the belly of Dutch power
     Java still glorified

its narrow world culture
         they bathed in the blood of their brothers
     right up through 1966

And because Java was no longer
         in the belly of European power
     the slaughter reached an unlimited scale

without colonization my country
         would have ceaselessly spilled
     the blood of its sons and daughters

cultural integrity     a bogey
         for the countries stuffed with capital
     by which free peoples are enslaved

the unemployed become murderers         
with uniforms and badges of rank
     vast forests are torn apart [End Page 226]

It is necessary that I emphasize
         the problem of power
     that tends to turn people into bandits

above all if they have held it for decades
         and without ever knowing Verlichting
     Aufklaerung      remain in thrall

everything that has happened
         will live on for centuries
     Once more--my apologies

But now the IMF
         (having learnt from the massacres
     which followed its exactments

in Yugoslavia and Rwanda)        
         has allowed Indonesia
     to continue heavy subsidies

on food and fuel
         and the most powerful voices
     denouncing the recent murders

and rapes of the Chinese
         are the top Muslim leaders
     like Abdurrahman Wahid

         leader of NU
     the largest nongovernmental Islamic

organization in the world
         not even in Saudi Arabia
     do they have a mass Muslim organization

such as the NU
         The government there will not allow it
     who in May in Surabaya

organized a meeting of one million
         from all over East Java
     all dressed in white [End Page 227]

against the reactionary
         clerics in his own NU
     who had preached against the Chinese

from the pesantren
         some of whose youth in '65
     were brought in by army trucks

to kill the secular teachers
         and send their corpses
     down the river Brantas

but which Sulak now praises
         for wanting development
     from the...


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