Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 14:09 GMT
Human rights in Indonesia: Exorcising the past
The military remain a firm and often violence influence
By Jakarta Correspondent Jonathan Head
But Suharto's fall from power this year raised hopes for a more tolerant kind of government. For a while, it looked as though they had got one.
Digging up the past
The new openness also allowed Indonesians to dig into their past, with often grisly results. In the north Sumatran province of Aceh, for the first time we could witness the remains of those killed during the military's campaign against separatism being disinterred for proper burial.
Veil of fear
Even the army - once Suharto's instrument of repression - was showing a new face. Troops were pulled out of the disputed territory of East Timor to encourage a peaceful settlement there.
Indonesia still keeps a heavy military presence in the province, but it is giving the Timorese more freedom to express their views than at any time in the Suharto era.
It has been called Black Friday - the centre of Jakarta became a battlefield as the armed forces blocked students from marching to parliament. Suddenly it seemed that the old Indonesia was back again. Soldiers showed little restraint in dealing with their young adversaries.
Ten students died and hundreds were injured.
With the security forces in disarray, further outbreaks of unrest seem unavoidable.
There is an undeniable sense of new freedom in Indonesia, which should have made the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights an occasion for rejoicing - but it has not.
The fear is still here - it is a fear of social disintegration and random violence that could prove every bit as destructive to the lives of ordinary people as the more organised repression that marked the Suharto regime.