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Students protest charges against activists

Associated Press - January 13, 1999

Jakarta – In one of Indonesia's first student protests of 1999, a small group of activists demonstrated Thursday against the arrests of two students on kidnapping charges.

Some 30 students gathered outside the South Jakarta District Court, where the two suspects face trial for allegedly abducting and torturing a plainclothes policeman at a Nov. 27 rally.

Since their protests helped oust authoritarian President Suharto in May, students have kept up demonstrations for swift political reform, as well as a trial of Suharto on corruption charges. Students have refrained from protesting over the past month, in deference to the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ends Jan. 18. Campus protesters plan to resume rallies after a week of post-Ramadan holidays.

Rudi Simatupang and Edward Taurus, the students accused of kidnapping the police officer, were arrested in a raid last month by security forces at Jakarta's Christian University. They were accused of forcing the officer into a taxi, roughing him up and releasing him several hours later on the side of a road.

A hearing in the case had been scheduled Thursday, but only the lawyers for the defendants turned up in court. In a separate case, 11 elite soldiers have been charged in a military court with kidnapping pro-democracy activists in the last months of Suharto's 32-year rule.