Prejudice and Discrimination of the Chinese in Indonesia Indonesia is made up of many different smaller ethnic groups. Most of these smaller groups are indigenous people of the Indonesian islands, “Javanese 40. 6%, Sundanese 15%, Madurese 3. 3%, Minangkabau 2. 7%, Betawi 2. 4%, Bugis 2. 4%, Banten 2%, Banjar 1. 7%, other or unspecified 29. 9%. ” (2000 census) Chinese people born in China and Chinese people born in Indonesia make up 2-3 percent of Indonesia’s total population.
Although some Chinese people in Indonesia are still considered only by their Chinese heritage, others have assimilated and are considered Chinese Indonesian by marrying local Indonesian people or gaining Indonesian citizenship. (cite) The difference between race and ethnicity is the biggest issue when it comes to the identity of Chinese Indonesians. Discrimination and prejudice have been present against Chinese in Indonesia since the 17th century, when the first Chinese people immigrated.
Although there has been time of peace, there has been much unrest. Great introduction The history of the Chinese in Indonesia began in the 17th century. They immigrated to South East Asia in hopes of better economic opportunities. The Dutch ruled Indonesia at that time and did not encourage assimilation. The “divide and rule” plan was a three level system that separated local Indonesian people, Dutch and East Asian groups (which included both Chinese born in China as well as Chinese born in Indonesia).
This allowed the Chinese to establish trade as their main occupation but did not require Indonesian citizenship. The Chinese also worked on fields and in mines. “People’s dissatisfaction with the Dutch was often directed against the Chinese, who were regarded as their allies”(Knorr, 2009, page number) This occupation made some Chinese business people wealthy, but along with the anti-assimilation ideas of the Dutch, made the indigenous Indonesian people jealous and violent during times of economic and government hardship.
Nice job so far As a result of the national movement, independence was achieved and the Republic of Indonesia was formed. President Sukarno’s rule required that Chinese people assimilate “forsaking Chinese customs and cultural traits. ” (Turner, 2007) This requirement was the beginning of government oppression on the Chinese people. Because the Chinese people were considered a Dutch ally and did little to overthrow their rule, indigenous people discriminated against those who still saw themselves as Chinese and less so with those who wanted to assimilate with Indonesian people. Discrimination and hate mounted because of a failed attempt to overthrow the government which was blamed on China and the Chinese people in Indonesia. (Knorr, 2009) In 1965, anti-Chinese violence broke out and 500,000 people, in which majorities were Chinese people, were killed. As a result of the anti-Chinese period, “prohibition of Chinese script… elimination of dozens of Chinese newspapers, the stifling of Chinese cultural expression and the eventual closure of Chinese language schools and educational institutions” (Turner, 2007, page number) forced Chinese Indonesians to publicly give up their culture. President Suharto’s tenure in office… contributed to the Chinese suffering from ‘autohypnotised amnesia, a mental condition in which people deliberately eliminate their self-identities. ”(Turner, 2007, page number) Be careful of using too many quotations. After 1966, the Chinese Indonesians and Indonesians were legally equal. Realistically, the Chinese still suffered from widespread discrimination because of laws that were still in place, such as the ban on the Chinese language. Once again, in 1998, riots were fueled by the economic crisis and distrust of government.
With these feelings, economically strapped Indonesians blamed the government who then used the Chinese as a “scapegoat” for their own faults. (Turner, 2007) The government of Indonesia blamed Chinese people for the financial hardships that the indigenous people were facing. Although there were many successful Chinese businesspeople in Indonesia, a majority of the Chinese people faced the same hardships and poverty that the indigenous people faced. Increased prices of food, food shortages, and layoffs fueled the anger that Indonesians felt.
Because of the few wealthy Chinese business owners, indigenous Indonesians felt that the Chinese people controlled the wealth in Indonesia. During these riots, business and homes owned by Chinese people were destroyed as well as a majority of Chinatown in the capital city of Jakarta. In addition to property damage, Chinese women were a target for brutal rapes and murders. (Turner, 2007) In 1966 as an attempt to bring peace to the country, “President Abdurrahman Wahid abolished the presidential decree 14/1967, which had legalized discrimination against the Chinese. (Knorr, 2009) Excellent job Today Chinese people make up only 2-3% of the total population in Indonesia. Chinese newspapers are now circulating but because of the events from the past, Chinese Indonesians rarely are able to read or speak the language of their ancestors. They struggle to be “Chinese enough”. Although prejudice is still a factor, Chinese Indonesian people have “re-emerging social traditions, such as cultural festivals, celebrations…, as well as newly emerging social movements and political activities. (Turner, 2007) too many quotes Chinese characters are seen on TV and traditional holidays are allowed to be celebrated, but because of the oppression of the Chinese culture in the past, Chinese Indonesians don’t necessarily speak or read Chinese. Nor do they represent the “ideal” Chinese person that is characterized in the media. Representing Chinese Indonesian people in an ideal light can have serious repercussions. The ideal version of any culture is very skewed and can create misguided judgment. Chinese people in Indonesia and in general are viewed are more educated and wealthy than other cultures.
These idealistic views of very wealthy Chinese businessmen add to the discrimination on all Chinese people who may be facing the same economic hardships as other Indonesians or any other group in the world. Great, cite “Many people in Jakarta welcome the fact that the Chinese are once again publicly celebrating their traditions and customs as long as the latter are considered to be apolitical, colourful and accessible to everyone. ” (Knorr, 2009) Tension arises among local people when celebrations are done only in Chinese-languages and are seen to be exclusive.
In an attempt to stop discrimination and accept Chinese people in Indonesia, the current government has made several changes in order to change previous prejudice. Along with declaring the Chinese New Year a national holiday in Indonesia, it has recently been declared that anyone born in Indonesia is eligible to be president. Although much has been done to right the wrongs done to the Chinese people, discrimination and prejudice will always be present in every culture. Learning about another culture is the best way to become an educated person.