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Five opposition figures arrested

Media Indonesia - November 16, 1998

Jakarta – A number of well know figures including retired high ranking military officers have been "secured" by the police following the riots in Jakarta on Friday and Saturday last week, which resulted in the death of scores of people.

Up until yesterday afternoon five people have been arrested. On Saturday afternoon the police arrested Hariadi Darmawan (the chairperson of Iluni) and Roch Basuki (Gerakan Reformasi Nasional, National Reform Movement). Yesterday three more were arrested, Kemal Idris (Barisan Nasional, National Front), Sri Bintang Pamungkas (PUDI, Indonesian United Democratic Party), and Ali Sadikin (National Front).

They are among 17 people who signed the "Joint National Declaration" on November 12. The joint communique called for the formation of a provisional government.

Based on information compiled by Media Indonesia, the police have issued 18 arrest warrants. Aside from the signatories of the Joint National Declaration the police will also arrest a number of other well known figures who are suspected of being involved in directing the masses during the riots on November 13-14.

The suspects are to be charged under Article 110 in relation to Article 107 of the Criminal Code pertaining to planning a conspiracy to overthrow the government and change the government structure. The maximum penalty for this is 15 years jail.

One of the signatories of the National Declaration however, Sri-Edi Swasono denied that the meeting and declaration were intended to attack the government. "The meeting and communique were open. Nothing was done secretly", said Swasono.

The arrested were taken from their respective homes to police headquarters under tight guard. They were not allowed to speak with journalists who had been waiting since the afternoon. The security at the building where they are being questioned was even tighter. Usually journalists are free to enter the building but last night it was guarded by four security personnel. Anyone leaving or entering the building was carefully checked.

The arrested were accompanied by a team of lawyers from the Legal Aid Institute. The spokesperson for the lawyers, Adnan Buyung Nasution, told the press that the arrests were excessive. He was of the opinion that the police need not have issued the arrest warrant and that it would have been enough just to have summoned them in for questioning. "I am convinced they [the accused] would have come", said Buyung.

He said that the arrest warrants had been issued by police on November 15 based on a police report on November 13. "The charge of attacking the government has no basis whatsoever because there must be clear and concrete evidence of actions to overthrow the government. This was only just an idea. If a person has an idea in their mind, a desire for a new government which is more representative or to form members of a cabinet that is not a crime", he said adding that a persons thoughts cannot be tried.

Meanwhile Sri Bintang Pamungkas arrived at police headquarters for questioning at 7.52pm. He only commented briefly saying "Ya, its the [same] old way".

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski]