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Students throw rocks, bottles at police

Associated Press - December 10, 1998

Jakarta – Angry students threw rocks and bottles at Jakarta's police headquarters while as many as 10,000 protesters choked the streets of Indonesia's capital Thursday and demanded more democracy.

It was one of the biggest days of protest since demonstrations and deadly riots forced ex-President Suharto to quit last May after 32 years of autocratic rule.

Thursday's massive turnout coincided with the 50th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was held despite a warning from Indonesia's government that it wouldn't tolerate violent protests.

The demonstrators gathered at various locations across Jakarta, stretching security forces. The protesters also demanded the immediate prosecution of Suharto who is now being investigated for corruption.

Student leaders said police used batons to beat back a crowd of 3,000 protesters who tried to march on the Parliament. At least 30 students were injured, they said. The protesters responded by throwing rocks and bottles at officers who were forced to retreat into a police building. Police weren't immediately available for comment.

Several other clashes were reported with security forces, who closed down many streets in the city of 11 million, causing traffic chaos. Another group of more than 3,000 chanting and flag-waving students forced their way through a police line near several luxury hotels and moved along Jakarta's main boulevard.

They supported an array of causes. One banner read: "Release political prisoners." Another said: "Stop money politics and violence." Office workers applauded as the group marched to the local United Nations building. A police helicopter swooped overhead.

Some protesters lied down in front of cars carrying police who had challenged their group. Several protesters beat up a man they accused of being a police agent.

About 1,000 other demonstrators were earlier allowed to protest outside gates of Parliament. Thousands more gathered outside various government buildings or blocked toll roads.

Witnesses said brief fights broke out between police and hundreds of students near Indonesia's foreign ministry. However, at most spots security personnel were careful not to engage in clashes with the protesters. Other demonstrations in recent weeks have ended in deaths and injuries.