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Graduates hold cap-and-gown protest

Agence France Presse - December 5, 1998

Jakarta – A group of new Indonesian graduates celebrated their last day as students by protesting on the capital's busiest traffic roundabout, accompanied by proud parents and friends.

The 50 students from the School of Information Management and Computer Studies demonstrated after their graduation ceremony at the nearby Hotel Indonesia. "Long live students," they shouted. "Long live graduates."

"Our fight for reforms do not end here. We have passed our test as students but those in the government haven't passed the test of meeting the aspirations of the people," said one.

In a statement the graduates demanded that the armed forces fight for the people – not for the government – and that the government bring to trial government officials suspected of corruption, including former president Suharto.

The students also demanded that armed forces chief General Wiranto be held accountable for recent military violence against students and that probes be conducted into a series of riots.

Mothers in traditional clothes and fathers with cameras waited patiently on the sidelines, some cheering and chanting with them. "I asked my son to come home after the ceremony but he demanded to join the others. I guess it's fine considering tomorrow he will be busy looking for a job," said one mother.

Clashes between soldiers and students have claimed the lives of at least seven students protesting against a November special legislative assembly session they did not accept.