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Students submit Meruya declaration

Kompas - April 25, 1998

Jakarta – Twenty-six students of the Universitas Mercu Buana, West Jakarta, on Friday (24/4) around 10.00 local time, came to the State Secretariat Building on Jalan Majapahit, Jakarta. Wearing red jackets, they wanted to deliver a letter and orchids for President Soeharto through the State Secretariat.

The students who called themselves the Students Study Forum of Universitas Mercu Buana came to the State Secretariat using a small bus. After some discussion with the gate security, two students were allowed inside. They were received by the State Secretariat Administration Bureau head, Shodiq, and handed over the letter and flowers.

Shodig said he would pass on both according to administrative procedure. The students named the letter they had delivered the "Meruya Declaration". It contained, among other things, a demand that the prices of commodities should be lowered as these were moving increasingly out of reach of the purchasing power of the public.

Afterwards the student group visited the office of the National Commission for Human Rights. To members of the commission they lodged a complaint that they had been treated harshly by the security at the State Secretariat.

Medan still heated

The wave of student actions of concern in Medan in which thousands of students participated, again continued on various campuses, namely at the Universitas Islam Sumatra Utara (UISU), Universitas Muhammadiyah Sumatera Utara (UMSU), Universitas Katholik (Unika) Santo Thomas and the Institut Teknologi Medan (ITM).

At the ITM, in a continuation of their action of concern, students rained stones on security personnel who intended to block them at the Gedung Arca road. One police agent suffered injuries on the face. The situation only calmed down after the ITM head Ir Syahrum Razali MSc negotiated with the Medan City police chief and the military district commander. Concerning ITM student Ronalson Siahaan who suffered a shot wound (Kompas, 24/4), the city police chief said the matter was under investigation, whether the student had been hit by a bullet or shot at. The regional police information head confirmed there had been a shooting. The person who did the shooting is under investigation. He said that shooting by police when handling student demonstrations was not allowed. That has been affirmed by the State Police Chief.

In Yogyakarta, historian Prof Dr Syafii Maarif, was persuaded to speak before a crowd of about 20,000 people at the Grand Meeting of Indonesian Students and People, which had been staged by the KAMMI (the Indonesian Moslem Students Action Unit), after Friday prayers. He said among other things that it was incorrect to call the demonstrations practical politics. He hoped that in particular the minister of education and culture would not look at the phenomenon from a microscopic, narrow point of view.

The mass demonstration was participated in by students, high school pupils, street musicians and about 700 jilbab-wearing female students and women with children. They were wearing head-bands on which was written KAMMI.

In Solo, the Solidarity Group of Students Care for the People (SMPR) again staged a demonstration of concern on the Universitas Sebelas Maret boulevard. The action held by some 500 persons lasted five hours without incident.

In Ujunggpandang, thousands of students from various higher education institutes went on the streets to commemorate the Amarah Incident. They visited the graves of two of the three students of the Universitas Muslim Indonesia who died in the demonstration protesting the public transportation tariffs hike in 1996.

The commander of Military Region VII/Wirabuana, Maj. Gen. Agum Gumelar evaluated that the students action commemorating that incident was reasonable.

In Surabaya, about 100 persons consisting of students, workers, tricycle drivers, street-vendors, public transportation drivers - organized in the Surabaya Citizens For Reformation - held a demonstration in front of the East Java Regional Parliament, and read out their demand sovereignty to be returned to the people.

In Jakarta, some 100 students of Universitas Nasional staged an action of concern outside their Pasar Minggu campus.

In Bandung, a student of the Universitas Pasundan was arrested on suspicion of maltreatment of a security member who was guarding a free forum demanding reformation. Bandung top police officials confirmed that the student had been arrested on suspicion of having broken the law, namely maltreating a member of the state apparatus on duty.