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Bloody clashes highlight student actions

Kompas - May 3, 1998

Jakarta - Dozens of higher education institutes in the area of Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor-Tangerang-Bekasi) simultaneously staged actions of concern which were highlighted by clashes with the security apparatus at various campuses on Saturday (2/5). Bloody clashes occurred at the Institute of Teaching and Pedagogy (IKIP), Rawamangun, East Jakarta, where six students were hit by rubber bullets, 33 persons seriously injured, causing part of them to be rushed to the Persahabatan hospital, and dozens of others suffering light injuries. This does not include students who became victims at other campuses.

The information chief of the Jakarta Metropolitan Police, Lt. Col. Drs Edward Aritonang who was contacted on Saturday afternoon, said that on the side of the police 28 persons were injured as a result of clashes at various campuses in Jabotabek. From that number, 11 have to be treated at the Kramatjati Police Hospital and the Gatot Soebroto Hospital. At the IKIP and Yasri, 11 police members were injured.

Aritonang added that in the IKIP incident, the police did not fire real bullets. He said that when pushing and shoving with the students took place, an iron fence collapsed causing a number of student to become wounded.

In Medan, North Sumatra, the student actions of concern grew into riots highlighted by damage to and throwing of objects at buildings. A Nissan minibus was burned, and a Timor car and Mitsubishi pick-up had their windows destroyed.

The deputy chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), commenting on the spreading clashes between students and security with casualties occurring, said that the apprehension of many circles that it would come to violent action between the apparatus and the students, had now been proven to be warranted.

Marzuki admitted that the incidents at the IKIP Rawamangun and in Medan were a heavy blow to the Human Rights advancement program of the Komnas HAM. Violence is a grave threat of Human Rights violations occurring, from whatever source. He only wanted to remind that violence is no solution, and no one-sided advantage.

Wounded by shots

Six students were injured by shots in the clash at IKIP Jakarta. One was wounded seriously in the stomach area. One student was wounded by a bayonet.

Besides the casualties among the students, a photo reporter from Majalah Sinar was wounded on the head. Security also grabbed a camera from a foreign reporter from the Financial Times who was recording the event.

The incident was completely unexpected. The action of concern which was participated in by some 2,000 students, initially was only highlighted by some pushing between the security and the students. But around 13.30 local time an aqua bottle and stones were thrown from outside the group of students.

At that moment a security agent let off a shot in the air, simultaneously followed by tear gas and volleys of rubber bullets into the air and at the students. The rain of bullets which lasted ten minutes caused the students and onlookers to run head over heels. But they could not enter the campus because all gates were closed tightly, until the fence was brought down. Part of them gained safety by climbing the fence, but hundreds of others went into the two meters deep gutter.

An atmosphere of sorrow covered the IKIP Jakarta campus when the injured students were brought into the campus. First aid to them was somewhat tardy because numerous casualties had not been anticipated. Dozens of students were busy compressing swollen eyes and wiping their faces and bodies to clean off the remnants of the tear gas.

Central Jakarta

At the campus of ABA-ABI Matraman, some 500 students from Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Kristen Indonesia, Universitas Moestopo and ABA-ABI were hit by tear gas. Four students were injured in a physical clash with police. Dozens of students who succeeded in exiting from the ABA-ABI campus joined about a hundred students from Attahiriyah and the Jakarta Technology Higher Institute on the green strip of Matraman Raya road. Mobile Brigade police dispersed them with tracking hounds and canes, driving the students off to the Matraman I road.

The action of concern at the UI Salemba campus which was attended by some 2,000 participants, lasted some six hours under tight surveillance by hundreds of completely armed security personnel. Nearing noon, various troops of students from a number of campuses such as the Jakarta Arts Institute, the Malang Students Association, came in turn to the UI Salemba campus on foot.

No incidents occurred here, although there was some mutual pushing at the campus gate between the students and the security apparatus. A number of UI students wanted to come and get their colleagues who were on the ABA-ABI campus. Bu the security did not allow them to go on foot. Some mutual shoving followed. Finally agreement was reached that the students would be taken by vehicles provided by the official personnel.

The action which was filled with oration and various art programs also put on stage the UI teacher Prof Dr Selo Soemardjan, who in his speech affirmed that his side supported the student action demanding reformation in politics, economics and law. He got loud acclaim when he said he believed that the student action was not being exploited, and that they should continue their struggle.

Hundreds of students from the Universitas Yarsi, the Industrial Management Higher Institute and the Universitas Muhammadiyah carried out a joint action on the Yarsi campus in the Cempaka Putih area. The student mass which initially carried out its action on the slow lane of the Letjen Soeprapto road, was finally driven back onto the campus. Three police members were injured by thrown stones in a clash with students.

South Jakarta

In front of the Lebak Bulus terminal, around 12.00 local time, thousands of students from Universitas Muhammadiyah (UMJ), IAIN Syarif Hidayatullah and the PTIQ carried out a long march of two kilometers towards the UMJ campus on the Ciputat main road, in an orderly manner without security escort. But when they reached the BATAN Building, security finally escorted them towards the UMJ campus. Here, the action continued. There was a clash with the security, because the students were prevented from leaving the campus. To dampen the action, the police fired off tear gas.

Thousands of students from the Social and Political Sciences Institute (IISIP) and the Universitas Nasional, carried out a long march of one kilometer from the Universitas Pancasila campus to the IISIP campus under escort of the security apparatus. This action found sympathy on the part o the public and high school pupils on the road, sometimes by giving the students drinks in plastic containers.

At the Universitas Attahiriyah, about one hundred students went on the streets after teaching recital to women in the campus mosque. The police were first misled because they left the campus one by one and regrouped outside. After some negotiation with the police they were allowed to march, but only by the side-streets around the campus.

At the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) campus in Baranangsiang, Permadi SH gave a one hour speech before thousands of students. Previously, students from four private higher institutes in Bogor had gathered in the campus of Universitas Djuanda, Ciawai, and then long-marched to the IPB Baranangsiang campus. This large group was blocked by security in the Tajur area before entering Bogor City, and was then put on buses to be taken to the IPB campus.

In Medan

In Medan, students at the Universitas HKBP Nommensen ran amuck and wrecked the glass-walled car showroom of PT TDK. One car was burned, two others had their windows broken.

Besides this, the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Perintis Kemerdekaan road, directly facing the university, was stoned, causing all its glass walls to be reduced to smithereens. Similar damage was suffered by buildings close to Nommensen, such as hotel Sahid Jaya, Bank Internasional Indonesia, and a number of shops.

Information gathered by Kompas in the field says that the wrecking and burning occurred around 10.30 local time Employees at the showroom had just started work, when suddenly a number of people came and stoned the glass surfaces of the three floor building. A car inside was dragged out and burned in the middle of the road. The personnel on duty could not put out the fire which spread rapidly. The situation was only brought under control by hundreds of security personnel around 15.00 local time.

Students of the North Sumatra Universitas Muhammadiyah, Universitas Islam, Universitas Sisingamangaradja XII and IAIN also went on the streets. They demanded that reformation be carried out soon without having to wait for the year 2003. The action at these three universities could be kept manageable, because the leadership of the Regional Parliament and the Armed Forces were willing to go into the street and have direct dialogue with the students.