‘I have long anticipated a book that gives this kind of perspective on Indonesia: half journalistic, and half exploration through various literatures, woven together in a narrative resembling a travelogue. This has enabled Andreas to gaze into some frequently-overlooked corners, such as his dialogues with pilgrims visiting Soekarno’s grave, or with the step-sibling of Aceh’s charismatic leader. With this approach he has the freedom to delve into some big conflicts, such as the Indonesian revolution and the tragedy of 1965, but also local sectarian conflicts that are breaking out everywhere. It’s an extraordinary testimony of the interrelationship that results when power intertwines with racial and religious sentiments.’ Eka Kurniawan
Jakarta based Andreas Harsono is one of the most knowledgeable, experienced, high-profile and courageous of reporters and commentators on contemporary Indonesian society. Race, Islam and Power: Ethnic and Religious Violence in Post-Suharto Indonesia is the result of Harsono’s fifteen year project to document how race and religion have come to be increasingly prevalent within the nation’s politics. From its westernmost island of Sabang to its easternmost city of Merauke in West Papua, from Miangas Island in the north, near the Philippines border, to Ndana Island, close to the coast of Australia, Harsono reveals the particular cultural identities and localised political dynamics of this internally complex and riven nation.
This informed personal travelogue is essential reading for Indonesia watchers and anyone seeking a better understanding of contemporary Indonesia. As a passionate seeker of human rights protections, civil liberties, democracy, media freedom, multiculturalism and environmental protection, Harsono reminds us that Indonesians ‘still have not found the light at the end of the tunnel’.
Andreas Harsono, author of a number of books, began his career as a reporter for the Bangkok-based Nation and the Kuala Lumpur-based Star newspapers. In the 1990s he helped establish Jakarta’s Alliance of Independent Journalists, then an illegal group under the Suharto regime, and was a founder of the Jakarta-based Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information and of the South East Asia Press Alliance, in Bangkok. In 2003 he helped create the Pantau Foundation, a journalist training organisation also based in Jakarta, and since 2008 he has covered Indonesia for Human Rights Watch.