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Threats against unauthorised demos

Waspada - August 2, 1998 (summary by Tapol)

Indonesia's chief of police, Lt. General Roesmanhadi has announced that all expressions of opinion through demonstrations, rallies, public meetings and announcements in the mass media or through the Internet by persons or groups that fail to notify the police in advance will be dispersed and regarded as unlawful.

He promised to take "firm measures" on the basis of presidential decree No 2, 1998 recently enacted by President Habibie. The police chief denied that the decree reduced or restricted human rights. The decree had been enacted to improve Indonesia's image in the international community which sees disorderly actions as being unsettling.

Although the decree has provoke wide controversy and has not yet been ratified by parliament, he said that as long as it remains in force, it was the duty of the police to enforce it. He said that old ideas should be stamped out. There had recently been uncontrolled demonstrations which had resulted in destruction of property, looting and rapes that threatened to undermine national unity.

He said that Article 28 of the Constitution does not regulate the expression of opinion which is why the decree has been enacted on 24 July by the president.