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Students prepare for new campaign

Jakarta Post - January 30, 1999

Jakarta – A union of dozens of student groups said on Friday that they would appeal to the general public to join in their demands for a transitional government, which they hoped would transform the nation into a "New Indonesia".

Eleven student groups, grouped under the Committee of United Students (KMB), said they had already organized a political education program for the general public and set up campus command posts to disseminate their ideas on the importance of a democratic government for carrying out reforms.

The students told a press conference they would organize street rallies to communicate their ideas and bring more people to their cause. The students said they had found that this tactic was the most effective way to get their message across.

The student representatives speaking at the press meeting at the University of Indonesia's campus in Salemba, Central Jakarta, included members from: the Big Family of the University of Indonesia (KB-UI), the Jakarta Front, the Communication Forum of Jakarta Student Senates (FKSMJ), the City Forum (Forkot), the Independent Front of Gunadarma University Students (FIMA), the Collective Forum (Forbes), the Committee of Students and People for Democracy (Komrad), the Trisakti Students Action Committee (KAMTRI), the Student Action for People's Struggle (Ampera) and the Bogor Institute of Agriculture's Student Movement (Gema-IPB).

"The Indonesian people must fight for their sovereignty. We all have the same goal: fundamental change in this country. We embrace those who want to pursue the changes which have failed to be realized by the (former president) Soeharto and (President)Habibie government ," said Roy Tanda Anugerah of KB-UI. We will raise (the public's) awareness of politics and democracy and let them do the fighting, " he said.

Mohammad Sofyan, known as Ian, from Komrad, said that in order to fight for the demands, people should start a revolution. "To pave the way for a revolution, we will call on students nationwide to establish command posts to educate the people on politics. This is the most important thing, even though it will take time, " Ian said.

He said that the students and the people would still need to take to the streets to voice their aspirations. "If we want to stage street rallies we will take into account the objective situation. We're still sure that mass rallies are the most effective method for unarmed civilians," he said.

The students expressed optimism in their plans, pointing to the success of last year's student movements which helped topple Soeharto's government.

They said that student groups, such as KB-UI and students from the National Institute of Science and Technology (ISTN), had set up several command posts for political training courses.

During the planned sessions they said, students and others would discuss and share their knowledge of general politics and the country's current political issues.

The students also insisted that Habibie step down to give way to a democratic transitional government, which would take his place to prepare for a credible general election. The transitional government, the students said. would also bring Soeharto and his cronies, including Habibie. to trial and revoke the Armed Forces' political powers.

They said that they would not reject a general election if it was carried out by this transitional government. "We will reject an election which is organized by the Habibie government," said Eli Salomo from Forkot.

Indra Parindrianto of FKSMJ said the students had not set a deadline for carrying out what he called the "people's power" movement. "We do not want to be confined by the general election schedule set by the current regime. We will proceed with our demand to establish a transitional government " he said.

Separately, Jakarta Military Commander Maj. Gen. Djadja Suparman called on people to cooperate to make the general election successful.