Indonesia: October 9, 2000

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Economic problems in Indonesia have fueled the recent violence. It began in 1998 when anti-government violence turned on the ethnic Chinese minority. These Chinese have been here for centuries, and coming from an economically more sophisticated culture, came to control most of the economy. This control went right down to the village level, where a Chinese family owned the general store and supplied loans to farmers. These loans enable farmers to grow each years crop. Most of these have been driven out, and their absence caused an economic collapse. While some Chinese are coming back to the only country they have ever known, it will take years for them to rebuild the economic infrastructure. The poverty caused by all this is making ethnic, religious and political differences turn violent. It has also increased piracy in the well traveled straights between Malaysia and Indonesia. There have been thirty attacks here so far this year. There were only one in 1998 and two in 1999.

 

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