APSN Banner

Rengkasdengklok riot: Eleven persons are officially suspects

Kompas Online - February 1, 1997

Karawang – The situation in the subregency town of Rengasdengklok, Karawang Regency, West Java, has gradually returned to normal after enduring a riot from morning until afternoon on Thursday (30/1). The security authorities have questioned 126 persons suspected of being perpetrators in the riot. But after intensive examination, only 11 persons have been declared suspects charged with destruction and misappropriation of goods during the riot.

In the center of town, although most shops were still closed, since Friday morning (31/1) street vendors and traditional market tradesmen had already started to display their wares. Similarly, tricycle drivers and hire motorcyclists had started to ply their trade cruising the center of the town.

The skeletons of vehicles which had been burned and strewn along the Jalan Raya Rengasdengklok (main road), were removed on Friday morning by personnel of the district government of Karawang Regency. Cleaning of scrawlings on walls of shops and houses had commenced. The Regent of Karawang, Dadang S Muchtar, said that the total material loss resulting from the riot was still being calculated.

Meanwhile the Commander of the Armed Forces, General Feisal Tanjung, after closing the XXIIIrd regular course of the Armed Forces Staff and Command School in Bandung on Friday (31/1), affirmed that in the Karawang incident there was certain to have been an element who had planned and set it into motion. That incident is a burden to the nation on the eve of the general elections. "We will search for the cause of the riot. It is not improbable that, where as soon as it occurred it was immediately known to thousands, there is certain to be a party to have planned and set it into motion," affirmed the Commander of the Armed Forces.

He explained that the riot case in Karawang will soon be investigated. "We should not immediately start to point the finger just like that, but should investigate. Indeed their identities are already known," he explained.


Guarding of the Rengasdengklok town entrances is being relaxed. But security forces are on guard on various street corners, to anticipate various possibilities. "The situation in town is fully under control since 14.00 hours on Thursday," said the Commander of the IIIrd Military Region/Siliwangi, Maj.Gen. Tayo Tarmadi to the press in the Rengasdengklok Sub-regency Office on Friday morning (31/1). He was sided by the Regent of Karawang, Drs H Dadang S Muchtar, Head of the Karawang Police Resort Lt.Col. (Pol) Drs Harry Montolalu, the Intelligence Assistant of the Siliwangi military district Col. Pranghadi, commander of the Sunan Gunung Jati 063 Regiment Col. Oding Mulyadi, and the Head of Information of the Siliwangi Lt.Col. Herman Ibrahim.

The Region Military Commander refused to divulge the identity of the 11 suspects. "To me that is not important, because whoever the persons are, if they violated the law they will be acted against firmly. All people are the same before the law," said the commander.

Besides the 11 suspects, continued the Military Commander, a citizen of foreign origin, suspected of having triggered the riot, has already been detained including his family. "He may be declared a suspect, at least being accused of using uncouth words against other people," said the Commander.

Concerning the riot, the Commander of the Siliwangi Military Region drew three conclusions. First, the occurrence of the riot is extremely regrettable because it has destroyed already achieved results of development. Second, give the security apparatus the opportunity to implement legal handling of the suspects and the person who triggered the riot. And third, the community should not only be reactive and responsive in facing a problem, but also fend off issues which can provoke riots.

"When you hear of a certain issue, please check at the National Alertness Command Posts which have been formed at each military district command. Members of the community must not immediately act on their own in response to issues, of which the truth is not yet clear," said the Commander.

In connection with that riot, the Military Region Commander mentioned that there are two categories of mass movements, namely spontaneous actions which are mass movements of emotional character in responding to an issue. While non-spontaneous actions are actions which according to sound reasoning don't need to be undertaken, but still happen, said the Commander. As an example he mentioned the action which took place on Thursday around 09.00 hours, while the mass action had been smothered at 08.00 hours.

Questioned about a third party in that riot, according to Tayo Tarmadi, the possibility was not excluded that the action was utilized by a third party. "But we must uphold the principle of presumption of innocence. Let the security authorities investigate this case. But looking at the modus operandi, it is almost the same as the Tasikmalaya case, namely the dissemination of issues and false information," said the Commander.

Aid to the amount of Rp 75 million

The Governor of West Java R Nuriana who came to observe the location of the riot together with the chairman of the West Java Regional House of Representatives H Agus Muhyidin on Friday, handed over aid to the amount of Rp 75 million in cash to the Regent of Karawang, H Dadang S Muchtar. "The application of that money is up to the Regent. But operational expense for the troops and the restoration of security requires considerable funds," said Nuriana. To restore security in Rengasdengklok, 2 company-equivalent units of Battalion 305 were assigned, 6 units of the Police Mobile Brigade of West Java, the 9th field Artillery Battalion, Bomb Squad and 100 members of the Karawang police.

According to Nuriana, when a riot has taken place, everybody feels the effect, including impediment of economic activity and social life of the community. "To normalize social life that has been disturbed, needs more than a little time," he said.


What is clear, said Feisal, is that the perpetrators of the riots are anti-government, and the modus operandi and the pattern of the actions are almost the same as the preceding incidents. "Those who did the burnings are Indonesian Communist Party," he stated.

He said that if a group or individual feels slighted by another, resolution should be through the law. "The law must be established. We must not at will play at being judge. Because that way lies anarchy, which in the end will cause uproar and rioting," said the Commander of the Armed forces.

According to him, those who caused the riots must be acted against. If required, anti-subversion articles should be applied, because they cause failure of programs that have been prepared by the national development, and disturb the safety of national stability.

"The juridical apparatus will act in accordance with prevailing laws. People who demonstrate will be acted against according to prevailing law. The Armed Forces have now taken steps with the establishment of Alertness Command Posts," he explained, while appealing to the press to help by providing refreshing news.

Similar matters were also put forward by the Head of the Information Center of the Armed Forces, Brig.Gen. Amir Syarifuddin, that the Armed forces would never tolerate the destructive actions committed by crowds lately. Therefore the Armed Forces Headquarters asks all sides to be more alert in facing issues tending towards the complex of tribe, religion, race and intergroup issues, which are being fanned by irresponsible parties with the sole objective to create instability.

That was put forward by the head of the Armed Forces Information Center responding to journalists after the program of breaking fast jointly by the Armed Forces Information Center and Editors & Journalists assigned to Defense & Security coverage. "The actions of rioting turning into destruction by mobs of late, has already turned to amoral behavior," he emphasized.

"The Armed Forces Headquarters utterly regret the occurrence of riots in Pontianak and Karawang yesterday which turn out to tend towards amoral behavior and without humaneness. Therefore, the security apparatus will take a firm attitude to uphold the prevailing regulations. Those who are wrong are certain to be acted against," he said.