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Rights day demonstrations in various cities

Kompas - December 11, 1998

Jakarta – The commemoration of 50 Years of the Universal Human Rights Declaration (HAM) on Thursday (10/12), took also place at eight other cities besides Jakarta. It was in general colored by parades, free speech fora, distribution of pamphlets and other activities. The 8 other towns were Ujungpandang, Padang, Lhokseumawe, Banda Aceh, Palu, Bandung, Semarang and Yogyakarta.

The "strongest" action probably happened in Banda Aceh and Lhokseumawe. In Banda Aceh the students still "occupied" till 18.00 WIT the governor's official house and demanded that various cases of HAM violations would immediately be settled.

While in Lhokseumawe, around 400 students held out at the yard of the local Regional House of Representatives and gave an ultimatum to the local officials and Armed Forces (ABRI) to sign their demand which demanded among others the investigating of HAM violations within six months. If they failed, they were asked to step down.

Various kinds of statements and demands which were voiced in the action in the nine towns were in general the same, namely to end violence/ill treatment, withdraw ABRI's dual function, perform honest and just general elections, investigate completely all acts of violence of abductions of the activists, the settlement of the cases of Aceh, Tanjungpriok, Banyuwangi etc.

Local problem

Besides those demands was in some towns also heard the demand on local problems, Eight non government institutions (LSM) in Padang for instance issued a statement of nine stances, among others to end the military operation disguised as guarding security of plantations at the regency of Pasaman, Sijunjung and 50 towns; to restore the traditional government of Nagari and to recognize, develop and institutionalize the value system of the traditional (adat) society.

Another action was held by about 100 students who called themselves F-ABRI (Front Aksi Bersama Rakyat Indonesia or the Indonesian People's Joint Action Front) in form of a peaceful and orderly demonstration at the Governor's office at Jl Sudirman.

In Aceh the students also demanded 80 percent of the regional revenues in the financial balance of the centrum and the region. While in Ujungpandang, the Legal Aid Institute held a "Dialogue of the Apparat's Violence" with presenting a victim of abduction, Faizal Riza, a citizen from the island of Laelae who was forced to remove, and a number of violation victims in Ujungpandang.

In that dialogue, the victims described their experiences in facing treatment which trespassed the limits of humanity. "My older relative was beaten at the police office till he was black and blue, and finally died in hospital. In order to meet my brother, a notable asked us to pay Rp500,000," said Nurlaela (17), one of the family members of the victim who disclosed the ill treatment against her brother.

Besides that dialogue the Forum of the Observer of Women Problems also held a peaceful demonstration at the Mandala Monument and the district court of Ujungpandang.

In Palu, around 100 students organized in the Anti Violence Committee came to the military quarters: the Head Quarters of the Military Police Detachment VII/2 of Palu, the Military Command 132/Tadulako and the Regional Police of South East Sulawesi. In front of that military post they held a demonstration of silence with displaying a poster of 12 activists, victims of abductions in Jakarta, and a street banner containing the demand to withdraw ABRI's dual function.

A similar matter was also performed in Semarang by students from Semarang and Salatiga. They came to the Command Post of the Military Territory IV/Diponegoro, next to the Simpang Lima field, the Regional House of Representatives, and some main roads of that town. A similar action was also performed by a number of non government organizations in Semarang.

Some actions also happened in Yogyakarta. Hundreds of students demonstrated in several places. Those who were organized in the Students Action Committee for the People and Democracy came to the Regional House of Representatives, then to the regional government's office of the Special Region of Yogyakarta (the Kepatihan). At the same hour, hundreds of other students who were organized in the alliance of the Indonesian people and students held an oration in front of Malioboro Mall and went also to the Kepatihan.

Meanwhile, the Pusat Advokasi HAM (PAHAM) {Center of Human Rights Advisors [UNDERSTandING]} of Yogya which consists of lawyers and legal experts, stated that HAM violations in Indonesia have reached a critical point. The feeling of security of the people in their daily life is disturbed and unsure. In the evening two discussions related with the HAM commemoration were held at the Indonesian Sovranita Study Institute and the Catholic Students Organization (PMKRI) St Thomas Aquinas in Yogya.

In Bandung the demonstration was colored by a not sympathetic act. After parading and holding a free speech forum in front of the Regional House of Representatives building, tens of students closed Jalan Diponegoro. A part of them played soccer at that main road. Their action disturbed the traffic.