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East Timor and the Internet: Global Political Leverage in/on Indonesia

Hill, D.T. (2001) East Timor and the Internet: Global Political Leverage in/on Indonesia. In: Media Cultures in Indonesia / Budaya Media di Indonesia, 2-7 April 2001, Leiden University


Student protestors inside the occupied national Parliament compound reporting online to the world from laptop computers epitomized the extent to which forces opposing President Suharto mobilized the internet in the dying phase of his rule. So too, under Suharto’s successors, is the Internet proving a new medium for separatist and minority ethnic groups within the archipelago seeking self-determination or international recognition for their aspirations. “The most important factor in gaining independence is communication with international powers,” claimed one Acehnese separatist leader, who added, “The internet is the only way we can achieve this.” They are staking their claim on the internet, with several sites like “Achehnese tears” providing “Information on breaches of human fights in Aceh,” complete with graphic photographs of military brutality. Moluccan groups, too, both in Indonesia and abroad, have taken to the internet to argue their position on the recent conflict there. This paper examines how one particular marginalized regional Independence movement has exploited the potential of the Internet in its struggle. East Timor provides a striking example of how a protracted Independence struggle adjusted to the new strategic possibilities of the internet, how these new technological possibilities could exert international political leverage, and how they can be applied by a nation on the path to Independence.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
School of Arts
Publisher: Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University
Copyright: Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University
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