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Silent protest in Palembang against decision to release Tanjung

Tempo Interactive - February 14, 2004

Palembang – Student activists, non-government organisations and academics held a silent protest in front of the Monument to the Mandate of the People’s Suffering in Palembang, South Sumatra, on Friday evening, February 13.

The silent protest was their response to the Supreme Court’s decision to release the general chairperson of the Golkar Party, Akbar Tanjung the day before. The action began with the lighting of scores of candles and a moment of silence to reflect on the demise of justice and democracy in Indonesia.

Action coordinator, Hefriyadi, said the action represented their rejection of the decision issued by Supreme Court on Akbar Tanjung’s case.

According to the general secretary of the South Sumatra United Workers Communication Forum (Forum Komunikasi Buruh Bersatu, FKBB), the Supreme Court’s decision to release Akbar Tanjung proves that legal institutions are still not siding [with the interests of the public] in the handling of his case. “The legal [institutions] tend to side with the those who are big, the law tends to compromise if it involves political figures and state officials”, he said.

They are therefore urging and encouraging the Attorney General to hold a judicial review of the Supreme Court’s verdict. Hefriyadi assessment was that the decision taken by the Supreme Court was ridden with political considerations rather than with the legal issues. “Aside from this it was a huge conspiracy to save Akbar Tanjung [so he would be able] to go on to become a presidential candidate, this is exceedingly obvious to see”, he said.

After giving speeches which were not accompanied by shouts, the activist held an action around the water fountain at the roundabout in front of the Great Mosque in the centre of Palembang city. There the demonstrators lit scores of candles and carried them around the pool.

“It is fitting that we are sad about this decision, at the very least we cannot accept it with a healthy mind. How can to courts declare [Akbar Tanjung] guilty, [then] the Supreme Court release him”, said Tareh Rasyid, one of the participants in the action.

The groups which joined the action included the Palembang Legal Aid Institute, the South Sumatra Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the Palembang People’s Movement, South Sumatra Watch and the Youth Committee for Democracy.

The action was a rather different from usual, the activist were much quieter and contemplative over the demise of Indonesian justice and democracy.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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