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Student actions spread, more casualties

Kompas - May 8, 1998

The wave of student actions across the country on Thursday led to a number of clashes with the security forces. There were casualties on both sides; the number of student injured was higher than on previous days, many caused by truncheons, rubber bullets, stone throwing and beatings.

The worst clash occurred at Sudirman University, Purwokerto, Central Java where 65 students were injured, of whom 28 were taken to hospital. Most had suffered head injuries from rubber bullets or truncheon blows. Eight were very seriously injured. A monitoring post set up by the students reported that nine students were missing.

The clash occurred when students started marching peacefully to the local assembly building (DPRD) and tried to breach a security barricade. Wielding truncheons, the security forces chased the students who put up resistance. Besides hitting out with their truncheons, the security forces threw tear gas canisters. The university rector, Prof. Rubianto Misman later expressed regrets over the incident.

In Solo, Central Java, there was a hail of stones and molotov bombs, resulting in casualties on both sides. Eleven students were injured, of whom two were rushed to hospital. The security forces suffered 43 casualties. The clash occurred when a thousand students tried to leave the campus, pushing hard against the troops surrounding the campus who forced the students back inside. Stones and molotov bombs began to fly. Tear gas was used to disperse the students. Thirteen students fell to the ground with breathing problems. The students tried to push their way onto the roads.

In Riau, Sumatra, a clash resulted in ten student casualties. Car windows were smashed and six students were arrested but they were later released, after a crowd of some eight thousand students demanded their release. The protests in Riau were the largest for ten years. As the students tried to march to the governor's residence, they were blocked by troops. The students managed to breach the blockade in two places but when they were within twenty metres of the building, they came under attack by hundreds of troops. When three dogs were set on the students, they rapidly dispersed. Tear gas was used and the security forces chased the students wielding rattan sticks.

In Jakarta

A clash at the Technology Faculty of the Jayabaya University in Jakarta resulted in 21 students being injured, all of whom were rushed to hospital. Two had been shot in the neck and arm while the others has sustained blows from truncheons and body irritation because of the teargas. One student had two bullets removed from his body. The rector announced that there would be no lectures Friday.

Similar clashes broke out at Gunadarma University, Kelapa Dua, Jakarta where hundreds of students from several universities held free-speech forums. Trouble broke out when students from Jayabaya University walking the four kms to Gunadarma University were attacked by troops. The Legal Aid Institute later reported that at least 52 students had been injured.

At Sahid University, students took part in protests, and carried banners. They were forced to return to the campus where they held a free speech forums.

In Yogyakarta

Following a series of bloody clashes on Tuesday and Wednesday, the local police chief announced that all student protests should end by 2 pm each day. Any students gathering after that time will be dispersed with the use of water spray, teargas, rubber bullets and live bullets. These measures were announced by the police chief when a team of lawyers from the Sanata Darma University went to the police command seeking clarifications about a number of students who went missing after protests on Tuesday and Wednesday. The team was escorted by the university rector.

On Thursday, seven students were still unaccounted for after security forces conducted 'sweepings' throughout the campus of the Teachers Training College, IKIP for several hours starting 11.30 at night. [The seven students are named.]

In Bali, at the Udayana University campus, the general public joined with tens of thousands of students coming from a number of universities on the island. The crowds grew in size because of the appearance of Permadi, the well-known soothsayer, along with a member of the local assembly, the DPRD. Students had been arriving for the event since early morning. Security forces watched the event from a distance of about 400 metres.

Students from dozens of tertiary institutions took part in actions in Ujungpandang, South Sulawesi. Thousands of students on motorbikes and other vehicles converged on a city square but were forced back by security forces. They spread out in all directions and started rallying around the city.

Three students sustained bullet wounds, one of whom had to undergo an operation to remove the bullet. The clash occurred as students continued with their protests until 6pm despite attempts by security forces to disperse them.