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17 students injured in clash

Jakarta Post - December 10, 1998

Jakarta – At least 17 student protesters were injured and 33 others detained by the police when demonstrators opposed to President B.J. Habibie and security personnel clashed near the President's residence on Jl. Patra Kuningan XIII in South Jakarta on Wednesday.

The injured students were rushed by their fellow colleagues to the nearby MMC hospital on Jl. Rasuna Said and Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital in Central Jakarta.

According to city police spokesman Lt. Col. Edward Aritonang, the 33 students were being questioned by detectives at the city police headquarters. He refused to give further details.

The detainees included students from the Economic Institute of Budi Luhur, Jayabaya University, the University of Indonesia, National University, Muhammad Husni Thamrin University, the ABA-ABI foreign languages academy, Institute of Management and Computer Science (STMIK), and the Don Bosco and Gonzaga Catholic High Schools.

The clash occurred in the afternoon when a crowd of some 100 students grouped in the Collective Forum (Forbes) a loose student organization of 11 universities and colleges in Greater Jakarta, refused to obey the security officers' order to disperse peacefully.

Those students that were able to escape unhurt fled to the Ministry of Health and other nearby buildings. Several security guards and employees of the nearby Menara Kadin Indonesia building also suffered minor injuries when the security officers entered the building complex to disperse the crowd.

South Jakarta Police chief Lt. Col. Satrya Hari Prasetya told reporters at the scene that the police had to disperse the students because they had violated Law No. 9/1998 on freedom of expression and disrupting public order. "They had not informed us in advance about the rally. Besides, they are also disrupting the traffic. We had the right to disperse them," he said.

Protester Ebiet of STMIK said they arrived in the area in six overloaded vans and reached Jl. Patra Kuningan Utara where they were blocked by security officers some 200 meters from Habibie's house.

The protesters rejected Habibie as the country's president and called for the immediate establishment of a transitional government. "We'll reject the general election, because it will have been organized by members of the New Order regime. If possible, the transitional power structure will be set up before the election," he said.

Ebiet said that the student's visit to Habibie's residence was only to symbolize their struggle. "We think Habibie is the one responsible for everything happening in this country. He is Soeharto's closest crony and he's the one in charge now," Rinto Steven, another Forbes member, said.

In the evening, 1,500 members of the City Forum (Forkot) attempted to join the Forbes group in Kuningan. But they were abruptly blockaded at the Kuningan crossroad. At a rally in Central Jakarta a plainclothes police sergeant was beaten by angry students after he had been caught posing as a photo journalist.