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Indonesians resist extensions to military power

29 September 1999

While the Indonesian Military forces (TNI/ABRI) are forced to withdraw from their 24 year occupation of East Timor, the democracy movement in Indonesia is under threat by enhanced powers for the military. The Indonesian student and workers movements have come out onto the streets to resist the increased powers for the military.

Violent protests gripped the streets of Jakarta for the second day Friday, as police struggled to contain crowds enraged by the passage of a bill giving the military power to revoke civil liberties.

About 500 riot police stormed the Atma Jaya university campus before dawn, firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Inside the campus, police smashed the windows of buildings and cars, and then withdrew across Jakarta's main boulevard. Several hundred students were taunting the police.

The clashes closed the thoroughfare, Sudirman Boulevard, into the city during morning rush hour, forcing tens of thousands of people to walk to work through tear gas, coughing and holding handkerchiefs to their faces.

The demonstrations and violence began Thursday with Parliament's approving the bill, which gives the military more power in "emergency situations."

Under the new law, the military can ban protests, take over the telecommunications system and mail service, and ignore existing laws guaranteeing human rights once a state of emergency is proclaimed.

But many Indonesians, who have supported the country's recent hard-won democratic reforms, are adamantly opposed to the measure.

Following the bill's passage on Thursday, about 5,000 protesters clashed with police on a highway leading to Parliament.

"This government wants the military to take over everything," said Dani Syahrir, a 21-year-old computer technology student. "We, the students of Indonesia, absolutely reject that because it means the death of democracy."

Reporters and protesters said three demonstrators were killed in Thursday's clashes with riot police in the capital, Jakarta. Officials and hospitals could not confirm the death toll, and there were no immediate casualty reports Friday.

A total of 53 people were injured on Thursday, the SCTV network reported. At least four were rushed to the hospital with bullet wounds, while other bloodstained protesters were taken to a makeshift clinic at nearby Atma Jaya University.

Cordons of riot police, carrying shields and wearing cumbersome protective gear, fired rubber bullets and volleys of tear-gas canisters on Thursday, clubbing demonstrators and passers-by whom they managed to corner.

Protesters pelted police with stones, bottles and firebombs, and at least five officers reportedly suffered burns. Several police cars were torched. Demonstrators also ripped out metal highway dividers, bending them to block one of the city's main arteries.

"We must destroy the Suharto-Habibie-Wiranto regime!" shouted a student who only gave his name as Handono.

President Suharto, who ruled with an iron fist for 32 years, was ousted last year amid massive pro-democracy protests. He was replaced by protégé B. J. Habibie. Army commander Gen. Wiranto sponsored the new security bill.

Last year's countrywide outpouring of discontent was largely sparked by the killing of several pro-democracy supporters in initial demonstrations.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in the country's second-largest city, Surabaya, and hundreds rallied on the resort island of Bali.

Similar protests occurred in Semarang, Ujung Pandang and Yogjakarta.

The military's near-total control over Indonesian society has been slipping since the downfall of Suharto's army-backed dictatorship.

"The bill will be enacted not to serve the interests of the military but to safeguard the unity of the nation," Wiranto said.

Source: "Ben Isitt" through A-Infos News Service


FAF ACTION REPORT - September `99

In the last August, there was a strike action in PT Rimba Aristama factory in Bandung. One of the striker, named Juju Juliyah did a hunger strike because she and several other labourers fired by the factory owner for their activities. Several day later Juju Juliyah died. She died for her belief. But the factory management still doesn't care about the tragedy, same as the government. No media covered that case.

On the the september 4th, FAF organize a demonstration as a solidarity for the struggle of Juju Juliyah and all the labour struggle movement. We held the demonstration along with SBI(Indonesian Labour Solidarity) labour organization, GMIP, and FMD the radical student organization.

We started from ITB (a big institute in Bandung) at around 0900 AM, we made alot of speeches in front of the university building. Then after enough people gathered we marched along the streets where a lot of poor people stay. We handed out leaflets along the streets we passed.

At 0100 PM we stopped at RRI (national radio station) and we demand to the RRI crew to covered about Juju's case along with other demands ( one of the demands is to abolishing ABRI/TNI dual function, of course). But as usual people from RRI called the army and the police to against us. One truck full of army prepared behind the RRI, along with 2 trucks full of armed anti-riot cops. Because the bad situation we faced we left the building to continued the march to the city hall that not far enough from the RRI building. when we got there every door was closed. about 30 protesters tried to break the door but the cops preparee to attack us. they were all ready to beat us down. so we choose to made some speeches in front of the building trying to attracted people's attention.

We finished the demonstration at around 1500 PM.

Sept 13th 99

On that day was a demonstration held at local parliament building. about 100 people gathered try to take over the building, to demand abolishing new government policies, that legalize the use of military forces to response every civil movement that opposed the government and the state. This new policies mean that military have a right to do everything above the resistance movement such as kidnapping, using violence to shut down every movement, even killing.

The demonstration started at 0100 PM in front of the building. we made alot of speeches and as usual passed much of leaflets about the demand. We demands stayed there until the the government response our demands.

At 2030 PM more than 500 anti-riot cops entered the building and try to get us out of the building. we refused to do that until we got response from the government about our demands. The conflict was begin, One of us collapsed. The cops continued to banishing us and finally successed to get us out of there. But we decided to stay there.

Sept 14th 99

We continued the demonstration at 1100 AM, about more than 500 people joined the demo. And again try to break in the government building. About 50 cops tried to hold us down but, they failed we went inside the building and made speeches. The people from the government went out and try to spoke with us. He promise to help us to abolish the government policies. So we left the building and started to march to RRI to spread out our demands on air. alot of people join the march. In RRI 50 riot cops tried hold us. they started beaten us violenty, so wedecided to go to KODAM (a military base) we marched along the street also handling out alot of leaflets. At KODAM we stopped and we made alot of speeches against all forms of militarism. some of us started to destroy the statue in front of KODAM, so some of soldiers prepared the weapons to stopped us.

We stayed there only for a half an hour we continued the march back to the parliament building, and we planned to stay there 'till the government abolished the new policies.

At 1900 PM, 500 anti-riot cops heading to us, and the chief of them tried to spoke to us about the situations, the want us to leave , but we refused to do it.

At 2200 PM, the cops started beaten us out, but we fought back the clash started there. We threw materials and some molotov cocktails against them. The riot was being rude when the molotov was burned the cops they shut down all the lights around the area, and the scene gettin dark and unseen. some of the cops stared to chased us and shot us. we chose ran out as far as we can some of us get caught and beatten up badly. the clash happened in about half an hour. we organized the rest of us to entered the UNPAD(padjadjaran university) building, and we decided to stayed there till the morning come. Because outside alot of camouflage army - army will get us and kidnapped us. 4 of us get caught.

Sept 15th 99

We held a demonstration again, started at 1400 PM, we marched from the UNPAD building heading to the local police station, with the demands to free our comrades that caught at last night action. But actually the cops were already free them several hours ago. We decided to finished there and split up, but we have plan for the next action..

Sept 17th 99

That day, the head of indonesian military, General Wiranto, planed to came to Bandung. He came to Bandung to speak about the next government policies about the state military control that will be sign at september 28th. If it signed and legalized, all resistance movements, organisations, or opposition groups will be shut down by military forces. Military will have a right to hunt us, catch us, even kill us, and all of it will be legal and protected by law.

So this day we organized the demonstrations to push Wiranto away from Bandung, to gain people awareness about the next government policies and demand to abolish the policies.

We started at the public market on Suci street. at 01.30 PM we made some speeches about this issue. Not so long, we went to islamic centre building, where Wiranto planned to come. About 300 people joined us. As usual the riot-cops and some millitary forces prepared down the street to hold the demonstration. The conflict began outside the buildings and continued for about one and half an hour. We fought until Wiranto went away from the islamic centre building. After wiranto went away, the cops and the military forces went away too. So we started to march away along the street to go to RRI (near by the islamic centre) to spread our demand on air and to gain the people attention. In RRI as usual we faced by the military forces, but there was no conflict here. We burned one of the police riot-shield that we got from last conflict, and some of us threw it to the military that stayed there. That act was burned some officer anger, they began to throw us the material, of course we fight back and threw everything we got to them. But there was not long happened.

We marched down the street and made alot of speeches to the UNPAD university and we finished the demonstration for that day.

At night we got some news from our comrades at Jakarta and Yogyakarta that they organized the same actions too, We're all demand about abolishing the state military control policies.

Sept 20th 99

A demonstration held by FAF and several others group to abolishing the new government policies about country protection, but if we study it carefully is just like junta military rules, the Rally was held at 1100 PM, infront of the local parliament building, we organized about 500 people. We demanded for the parliament members to signed a draft of petition to abolishing the policies that we made. after several time we made speeches we started painting the building with our demands, placing posters and handing out thousands of leaflets. At last 3 of parliament members come out agreed to sign the petition, in the mean time the rest of them was ran out through the back door with police coverage. We stopped the rally at 1600 PM.

Sept 22th 99

We continued the rally against the new policies (RUU-PKB), there was 1000 people gathered in front of the buildings. but we facing 100 anti-riot cops that prepared to secure the buildings. Because in the building was held a last meeting about the policies and to be signed and aproved.

We fight to break in the building, there was a clash, 2 protestors was injured and ran out to the nearest hospital. The clash still continued and the victim and injured was raising up. The clash continued till the night came. We didnt gave up, so the cops take a back up troops at least 500 personel of them fully armed and they prepared to surounded us. Because to much injured and victim from us, we decided to pull off and leave from the building, and we marched along the streets. We finished the actions at 2300 PM.

Sept 23th 99

We continued the rally, the masses gathered at the parliament building, we made some speeches and stared to marched heading to RRI, to spread out our demand by air, we stopped by the crew of the radio station, so we couldn't spread the news by air. some of us started to break the building and smashed the windows and other things. Couse of uncontrolled masses, we decided to leave the RRI building and marched along the streets. We've heard from our comrades in jakarta that 3 people died - shot by the army.

Sept 24th 99

That day we started to take over the parliament building we protested and made solidarity action of the death of our comerads at Jakarta action that the victim was still raising up, we fight at the building and we successfully banished the cops from there. To stopped masses anger, we legalize to spread our demands live by air too for about 15 minutes, and spread out to all over the country. At the night we back to the parliament building and we made a stage, continued with alot of speeches and act from all the people. The event held till the morning come.

Sept 25th 99

The 2nd day of take over, we closed the road in front of the building we do alot of speeches and smashed every military officers vehicle that passed there. The action held till dark. Half of the road was opened up so the vehicle, the masses was excited to smashed the military vehicle who passed the building. At the midnight we run the documentary videos about the last year shooting tragedy infront of the Trisakti university, and all about the demonstration that was documentary. And we still stayed there till the morning come.

from A-Infos
28 September 1999

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