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Police summon student activist

Agence France Presse - December 28, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian police on Monday summoned a leading student activist for questioning in a controversial subversion case involving 11 prominent public figures accused of instigating unrest.

"I was asked to come to the police headquarters as a witness to the subversion case," the student Sardini told a press conference. Sardini said police told him that Johnny Hidayat, Hariadi Dharmawan and Sri Edi Swasono, three of 11 signatories to a joint communique deemed subversive by the state, had mentioned his name during police investigations last month.

"I told them that all of this time I have never been in contact with those three figures either directly or via telephone. So I know nothing about the writing of the communique," said Sardini, 24.

Sardini was one of the reformist student leaders who initiated the "Ciganjur Declaration", a statement by four prominent public figures in November. However he said all he knew of the joint communique, whose writers are unconnected to the "Ciganjur Four," was what he had heard on television news reports.

"I was asked my whereabouts on the 11, 12,13 (of November when the communique was drafted and signed). I told them that during the three days I was constantly on the move ... to University Indonesia of Salemba, then to the Mustopo University campus and later to Center of Indonesian Social Sciences," he said.

The communique called for the installation of a provisional government until elections could be held. When its signatories were summoned last month on suspicion of subversion, legal experts said the government was skating on thin ice.

The experts argued that the 11, who included several retired generals, had been expressing a political opinion and had not committed any act that could be construed as trying to overthrow the state.

The summoning of Sardini was widely seen here as an attempt by the attorney general's office to link almost-daily student street protests, many of which have also demanded a provisional government, to the communique. Students and reformists say the government of B.J. Habibie, president Suharto's hand-picked successor, is illegal. They say it is continuing most of the policies of Suharto, who bowed out in May.

The 11 signatories were grilled in marathon sessions late November and early December, with police saying they considered the communique subversive. But there has been no announcement so far of further action.