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Bloody Lampung: scores arrested & hurt

Concerned People's Committee - March 19, 1998

[The following is an abridged translation of a chronology of an action by the Concerned People's Committee (Aksi Komete Peduli Rakyat). Please note that this was the second day of protest at the Unila university. 120 were arrested on the first day and released after protests and lobbying. Eight people suffered broken bones, 55 are unaccounted for and two are suspected to have been killed - Max Lane, ASIET.]

Once again, an action rejecting Suharto was held at the Unila university campus. The battle between students and youth resulted in a number of students being wounded and around 60 people arrested.

The action by students from the Committee of Concerned people, began just before 9.30am to the sounds of a megaphone siren and a drum in front of the Sociology and Politics Faculty building at the Unila University. The marshal ordered the participants to sing the song "Indonesia Raya".

The action demanded political and economic reforms. Posters at the action read "The people will surely win", "Elections must be honest and fair", "Join the demo - who is afraid", "Suharto is impotent, step down" and "Stop nepotism".

At 9.45am, the marshal announced that one hundred student demonstrators from the Muhamadiyan Metro University (UMM) had been arrested by security forces near Bundaran Rajabasa. One of the participants gave political speech along with shouts of "Viva the People, Viva Democracy" and "Overthrow Suharto". He explained that the aim of the action was to demand political and economic change.

Just before 10am, more students arrived bringing the number of demonstrators from UBL, UNILA and UTB, along with high-school students and youth, to around 60. "Reject Suharto", "Hang Suharto" they shouted. The rally became more enthusiastic when students from UMM arrived bringing the total demonstrators to 200. They also brought banners which read "Reform or death", "Reduce prices" and "The three demands: political reform, reject Suharto, reduce prices".

At 10.30am, the rally had grown to 250 demonstrators. The atmosphere became more heated when a student read the Proclamation IV followed by a poem read by a women which demanded the dictator [Suharto] step down. Shouts echoed across the campus. A number of students came forward wearing anti-riot gear made from cardboard which read "Soldiers like riots". The "Soldier Clowns" marched to the sound of a drum.

The action became even more heated when the marshal invited Intelligence agents to give a speech about the political situation. Unsure of themselves, they ran away from the demonstration.

Just before 11am, they formed into a column to begin a "long march". Now 600 strong, the rally was escorted by the students wearing cardboard anti-riot gear who "protected" the action and yelled "the people together will not be defeated".

They moved off a few minutes later – the numbers of demonstrators now in the thousands – towards the exit to the Unila campus, stopping to sing "Hello-Hello Bandung". Around 20 intelligence agents followed the march.

When they reached the campus gates it was blocked by four large anti-riot trucks and 20 military vehicles from the Bandar Lampung Kodim (Komando Dearah Militer, District Military Command). The road from the Rajabasa bus terminal had already been closed of by police. The students continued to move toward the military blockade, trying to force their way through. Two more trucks arrived loaded with fully equipped troops with tear-gas.

By 11.30, the thousands of students had became very heated because they were prevented from going out into the streets. Yelling "Overthrow Suharto', a number of demonstrators began throwing rocks at the military blockade in front of the gates. Political speeches were given rejecting the New Order regime. Again they tried to forced their way through the blockade yelling "Reform or death" and abusing the soldiers, calling them the "dogs of the New Order"

At 12.15pm, two more truck loads of anti-riot troops arrived boosting their numbers to around 500.

As scores more students arrived from STM Negeri, a fire truck suddenly attacked the students as the march was going to return the campus, and from behind, the military began throwing stones at the demonstrators. Demonstrators at the front responded by forming a blockade, while those at the rear were surprised by the rock throwing. Some of the demonstrators threw rocks back at the troops. The marshals instructed them to stay calm and not be provoked,

The military began attacking with tear-gas. Although the rally became disorganised, those at the front were ready to intercept it, while those in the rear tightened their ranks and looked for stones. When those at the front withdrew, they were replaced by others. Students and troops continued to pelt each other with stones.

The military then moved in to break up the action, hitting demonstrators, dragging others away. One student who was badly beaten, dragged of and arrested, was a women student from STM. Seeing this, local people began screaming with women shouting "God is great" [an Islamic call to battle], "The military are brutal, stop the beating". Some of the women wanted to join in the action but were prevented by the military who threatened them with pistols.

Just before 12.30pm the action was closed with the reading of a statement and a prayer. But the security personal again showed the arrogance of the New Order dictatorship. In front of local people they continued to beat demonstrators indiscriminately and even more women were arrested and beaten. At 12.45pm, a women who had been hit in the head collapsed unconscious in front of the Al-Was'i Mosque.

At 1.30pm, two demonstrators returning home on their motorbike were stopped at the Unila campus gates and arrested. They were taken away in a military vehicle and their whereabouts are still unknown. Fifteen minutes later, around 50 demonstrators were taken away and a number of others who had been wounded were taken to several hospitals around Bandar Lampung. Their condition is still unknown.

At 2pm, the demonstration still continued with students and military pelting each other with stones. At the same time, two police who were negotiating with university staff came out of the rector's office and were grabbed by demonstrators. It was announced that "We will hold the two police officers until 5.30pm, because our comrades are being held so now we will detain them, until our comrades are released we will not let these two police officers go".

At 4.30pm, two members of Mapla, Ridwan and Firman were dragged from their motorbikes and trodden on. 36 students being held on the campus have also begun a hunger strike.

[Translated by James Balowski]