Wikipedia’s Indonesia fail
Share this on

Wikipedia’s Indonesia fail

It’s high time to demiliatarize the Wiki Bahasa version, writes Asia Sentinel’s Warren Doull

With the great hope for Indonesian democracy, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, taking office last month, pro-democracy groups in the country are buzzing. They are asking that he tend to unresolved injustices like grievances in remote Papua, reconciliation for the bloody 1965 “anti-communist” purges and the abductions of political activists in 1997-1998.

I have a simpler request, and it goes for Indonesian NGOs and pressure groups also. Bring balance to the Indonesian version of Wikipedia. While it may not always be the most accurate or objective source of information, Wikipedia is certainly a popular source of information. Indeed, the Bahasa version of Wikipedia is approaching one million articles. So the Indonesian public is not well served if articles about certain retired generals and political groups are presented in a one-sided manner in Indonesian.

For example, when it talks about former general AM Hendropriyono, who was a transition team advisor to Jokowi, Wikipedia Bahasa verges on propaganda. So, too, when it talks about East Timor and the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Wikipedia’s Indonesian version tells Bahasa Indonesia speakers that, during his early days as a special forces commander, Hendropriyono “not only paid attention to the welfare of his soldiers, but also to their discipline.“ In 1991, Hendropriyono “wisely and methodically moved coffee farmers from a protected forest” in two sub-districts of Lampung province. It also vaguely notes an incident in Lampung in 1989, when Hendropriyono “succeeded in eliminating potential radicalism that was growing in the Talangsari area” (“berhasil mengeliminasi potensi radikalisme yang tumbuh di kawasan Talangsari”). The entry doesn’t mention accusations that at least 27 farmers were killed by Hendropriyono’s soldiers during this incident.

Nor does the article mention Hendropriyono’s suspected involvement in the murder of activist Munir, who died on board a Garuda Indonesia airliner in 2004 after being poisoned. Or his suspected funding of pro-Indonesian militias who murdered over 1000 civilians in East Timor in 1999.  The only hint of his controversial past is a revision on Aug. 20, 2014 that says vaguely: “Hendropriyono is said to have been connected to a number of human rights violations.”

Continue reading on Asia Sentinel