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Six shot, one dead in Java brawls

Agence France Presse - January 25, 1999

Jakarta – Security forces firing into a mob during a fight between two villages in Central Java, wounded six people, while another brawl between farmers in West Java left one man dead, reports said Monday.

Hundreds of villagers from the Sugihwaras and Widuri villages in Pemalang, Central Java, were involved in renewed clashes on Saturday and security personnel shot into the melee after warning shots were ignored, the Suara Karya daily said. The attack by villagers from Sugihwaras also left one shop burned and several houses damaged in Widuri village.

The violence was the second outbreak of fighting between the two villages after an earlier clash on Wednesday that left scores of injured and at least 25 houses damaged.

The fighting was allegedly sparked by rumors that a Sugihwaras villager had been mobbed to death by people in Widuri after a road accident. The man had actually died in hospital of injuries suffered during the accident.

Two other brawls took place in West Java over the weekend, the Pikiran Rakyat daily said. Hundreds of villagers from Pasirrukem in Cilamaya sub-district attacked the Tegalurung village on Saturday after one of its men was beaten up in Tegalurung for allegedly harrassing a woman there the previous day. One teenager died in the attack while another was seriously wounded. The two victims were from Pasirrukem.

Another brawl also shook the Cibuaya sub-district when villagers from Puspasari attacked neighbouring Cibuaya village, leaving 25 houses damaged but no serious casualties.

Violence between neighbouring villages has been on the rise in Java and other Indonesian islands in the past month, often over trivial matters.

Analysts have blamed the violence on the economic hardship caused by the ongoing economic crisis as well as waning respect for the armed forces and the police, whose image has suffered badly from allegations of past human rights violations and acting in the interest of big business.