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Iwan leads PRD action

SiaR - April 22, 1997

Jakarta – A free speech action was held by PRD supporters in the grounds of the Central Jakarta State Court, Monday (21/4). Scores of PRD supporters who had early packed the court room of the accused Budiman Sudjatmiko unfurled red and white banners reading "Democracy or Death". Scores of posters were also put up reading: "Boycott the Elections, Free the PRD Political Prisoners, Withdraw the Packed of 5 Political Laws, Reject the Show Trials" and "A Referendum for the Maubere People".

Yakobus Eko Kurniawan or Iwan was able to appear in the free speech forum. Wearing a tie, red head band reading "Boycott the Elections" and a PRD bandanna, Iwan presented a fiery speech before the prison guards realised that the one who was speaking was one of those on trial. Iwan was "taken" from the free speech forum to the holding cells at the rear of the court building.

The free speech forum speakers, two of which were women, full of spirit condemned the anti-democratic practices of the New Order regime which are making the Indonesian people suffer.

The speakers also condemned the [coming] general elections which were considered to be a tool to continue the tyrannical authority of General Suharto. The free speech forum participants also sung the PRD hymn. The also sang songs of struggle and election songs which were changed. An election song lyrics which continuously echo on the radio, television and public places such as markets and supermarkets were changed to "The General Elections have already tricked us/all the civil servants answer happily/under the laws of the authorities/we go forward to the public deception".

Security forces only stood guard during the free speech forum. Although they then seized posters and banners when the demonstrators wanted to move off towards the Sawah Besar train station.

In the main streets they chanted Boycott the Elections casing a traffic jam in Jalan Gajah Mada. With a police escort they marched to the Sawah Besar train station. There were no incidents during the action and no one was arrested.

[Full translation from SiaR - James Balowski]