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Bloody clashes despite Jakarta vow

South China Morning Post - May 9, 1998

Jakarta – Scores of students were injured in clashes in central Java yesterday as campus demonstrations continued across Indonesia.

The trouble came despite the military's pledge to speed reforms and its call for the protests to end.

Armed Forces chief General Wiranto said on Thursday that after nearly three months of protests students had got their message across and reforms were now on the national agenda.

But there was no immediate sign he had stemmed the tide of protest against the economic crisis as about 2,000 students clashed with police yesterday in front of the 11 March University in the city of Solo.

Sixty were injured, four seriously, when police responded to a hail of stones with tear-gas and rubber bullets. Another clash in Jakarta left 15 injured.

In Ujungpandang, in southern Sulawesi, about 1,000 students drove through the town protesting against fuel price rises. Reports said five protesters were shot in the city on Thursday, at least one with a live bullet.

Students in Yogyakarta, where 15,000 rallied on Tuesday, were told anyone protesting after 2 pm should expect to face rubber-coated bullets and, if necessary, live ammunition.

As the largest university in Medan reopened, students marched on campus calling President Suharto "the son of Satan" and carrying a sign saying "Suharto must be fired and prosecuted". At Jakarta's Teaching and Education Institute, 300 students staged a mock trial of the 76-year-old President. A "people's prosecutor" pronounced him guilty of "murder, robbery, corruption and collusion" and sentenced him to death.

Police arrested 200 Islamic students who sat in front of Parliament as legislators inside heard the Government explain this week's fuel price rises, mandated under the International Monetary Fund's bailout plan.

Chinese in Medan said at least 10 people were killed in riots and arson attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday. Reports put the toll at seven. General Wiranto denied anyone had died.

Travel agent Miramar Express announced last night it was cancelling package tours to Indonesia until further notice. Those who had booked could switch tours or receive a full refund.