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Students threaten to expel Japanese from Makasar

Jakarta Post - October 12, 2001

Makassar – Hundreds of students from the Indonesian Muslim University (UMI) in Makassar sent an ultimatum on Thursday for the Japanese government to withdraw its support for the US attacks on Afghanistan, or else they would expel Japanese from the city.

"Japan has to withdraw its logistical and military support for the US attacks on Afghanistan immediately, or else we will occupy its consulate general in Makasar and expel all Japanese citizens from the province," said Fadli Ibrahim, an executive of the UMI student council.

The students forced their way up to the consulate's front gate despite the presence of around 500 police guarding the compound. The students also demanded to talk with Consul General Yamashita Katsuo and at around 2:15 local time, five representatives of the students were allowed to meet him.

M. Natsir, one of the students who met with the consul general, told journalists after the meeting that the consul general had promised to bring the students' demands to the attention of his government and emperor. The forced meeting followed Tuesday's incident when UMI students forced consulate officials to haul down the rising sun flag at the consulate.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government lodged a strong protest over the destruction of property at its consulate general and the forced lowering of its flag in Makassar. Tokyo warned Indonesia that the good relations between the two countries would be in great danger not only if the government failed to ensure that such an unfortunate incident did not occur again, but also to take legal measures against the students who were guilty of a serious crime.

According to Japanese Embassy sources in Jakarta, Tokyo had instructed its ambassador to Indonesia, Yukio Takeuchi, to deliver the protest to Indonesia's highest authorities. "Our government is shocked by the incident. The Indonesian security authorities have promised to resolve the problem. We will wait for the government to deliver on its promises to us," a Japanese diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

The diplomat said his government would soon take strong measures to protect its citizens, including possible evacuation from Indonesia if the situation worsened here. Japan was taking into account the serious threats aired by some militant groups to retaliate against citizens of the US and its allies in Indonesia if their demands, including the severing of diplomatic ties between Indonesia and the U.S, were not met. "According to internationally accepted norms, such threats are serious crimes, and your government cannot just let them happen without taking any action," said the diplomat.

Separately, around 500 students from the Makassar Muhammadyah University (UMM) and Islamic Students Association protesting at the South Sulawesi provincial legislative council managed to force the council to issue a statement condemning the US attacks on Afghanistan. The statement was signed by South Sulawesi legislative council speaker Amin Syam.

The council also urged the central government to take a firm stance regarding the US attacks on Afghanistan and to urge the United Nations to demand accountability from the United States and its allies for their attacks on Afghanistan.