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East Timor Students' Association met regional parliament

MateBEAN - October 29, 1997 (Posted by the East Timor International Support Center)

Semarang – Fifteen East Timor students from the East Timor Students' Association (IMAPTI) of Semarang had met members of Commission A (dealing with defense and security issues) of the Central Java Regional Parliament. They questioned the MPs on the bad treatment felt by four East Timor youth arrested recently by security officers. As we have mentioned before on our release, the four were arrested in connection with a bomb explosion in their rented house in Demak, Central Java.

At first the Commission members refused to meet the students, but the students resisted to go home and at last four members of the regional parlia-ment were willing to meet them. Among them was the Chairperson of Karya Pembangunan Faction (FKP) Mohammad Nasri and MP Soetjipto also from FKP, United Development Party member FPP) Syaifuddin and Muzhakar N. from the Armed Forces Faction.

The students were questioning the procedures of the arrest. They men-tioned that the arrest was illegal because the authorities were not bringing an arrest warrant; and up to this moment the family of the prisoners was not officially being informed. They raised questions on the local authority's refusal to give visiting permit for their friends or relatives, and most importantly, up to 22 October 1997, they refused to give permission to the lawyers from the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation to meet their clients.

They also protested the way the interrogators treated their prisoners, especially the torture by beating and the use of electric current when they interrogated Fernao Pedro Marta Correia. According to the students, physical abuse towards a prisoner is against the values of any legal system, whether it is Indonesian or international system. All legal systems are recognizing the rights of a prisoner to be treated humanely.

The speaker of the students, Celito, demanded to the authorities to recognize the rights of the prisoners, i.e. the right to choose their own lawyers, the right to have visits from their relatives and friends, and the right to send and receive personal letters. Celito also asked the MPs to urge security agencies not to use psychological and physical intimidation in their interrogation to the prisoners.

The meeting lasted for about 90 minutes and the MPs promised to answer the protests and demands at least on the 10th of November because they were still attending the People's Assembly in Jakarta.

The authorities had arrested four east Timorese last September when a home-made bomb blasted the four people's rented house in Demak. Soon afterwards, the authorities found that Fernao Pedro M. Correia (19), Domingos Natalino Coelho Silva (20), Ivo Salvador Miranda (20) and Joaquim Santana (23) is members of the so called Associacao Sosialista de Timor (AST).

Meanwhile, another East Timorese student from Satyawacana University was arrested by Semarang Police Precinct on 30 October 1997 in the middle of a student brawl between East Timor students and the cadets of local Merchant Marine Academy (AKAPELNI). He also being accused of carrying a knife although actually he did not involved in the brawl.

The brawl itself was started by a personal dispute between a cadet and an East Timorese student in a restaurant. Felt embarrassed after being criti-cized of his impoliteness by the East Timorese, the cadet went away and a moment later returned with their fellow cadets to beat the helpless student. Another East Timorese who tried to separate the fight lost his two fingers by a slash of a sickle.

On hearing the accident, other East Timorese students accompanied by East Nusa Tenggara students hunted the cadets and it started a mass riot. Up to this moment there were no AKAPELNI students being arrested.

IMAPTI students went to meet the Police Precinct Headquarters in Semarang and received by the Vice-Commander. They had been given the promise to meet the Commander himself later the next day.