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50 students demonstrate in support of Megawati

ASIET - 12 July, 1997

[The following is a translation of a statement sent to ASIET by the underground Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) and also includes a short report from the Surabaya Post]

Around 50 students from a number of universities, United Development Party (PPP) and Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) sympathisers under the banner of the Indonesian Peoples Movement Committee (Komite Pergerakan Rakyat Indonesia, KPRI) and the National Committee for Democratic Struggle (Komite Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi, KNPD) demonstrated at the Governors office on Jl Pahlawan yesterday, Friday July 11. They rejected the results of the May 29 general elections and demanded that they be rerun. They also demanded that the government recognise Megawati Sukarnoputri as the official chair of the PDI.

Although they failed to enter the grounds of the Governor's office because the Governor's security personnel formed a blockade and closed the gates on Jl Johar, it did not deter the action. They sat in front of the gate and unfurled banners and placards which criticised the results of the elections. "Rerun the General Elections", "The 1997 Elections are Legally Flawed", "The Elections are Invalid" and so on.

They had earlier rallied from the end of Jl Johar towards the gates singing "Who do you belong to Megawati, Who do you belong to Megawati, Who do you belong to Megawati, you belong to all of us". Hearing the shouts and support for Megawati, rickshaw drivers along the length of Jl Johar joined in the shouting giving their support to Megawati.

Forming into ranks surrounded by small red and white flags and wearing head bands with the words "Reject the Election Results", the students from a number of regions of Jatim, PDI and PPP cadres moved off at 9am from Jl Johar towards the Governor's office, while singing the song "Forward without Fear".

Because they were not allowed to enter, they shouted "We are only holding a peaceful action Pak [the Governor], open the gates. We will not damage anything. We are not thieves. We also pay taxes, why are we not treated as the Governor's guests, the Governor is the Bapak of the people. Our Bapak too". Alternating between this, they read their demands:

Reject the 1997 election results because they are legally and politically flawed and need to be rerun; Try the chair of the election committee; Withdraw the packed of five political laws and the dual function of the military; That the government be responsible for and compensate for the moral and material losses suffered by the people during the elections; Requesting that the head of PPP reverse the decision to accept the election results based on the data on election fraud that the PPP has; Calling on the people to hold protest actions rejecting the election results and demanding the elections be rerun.

They also stated that the problem of election fraud cannot be viewed "partially", but is in reality a systematic plan. The existence of the packet of five political laws, means that the people are not able to enjoy their right to freedom of expression. "Based on these conditions, KPRI rejects the results of the 1997 elections and demands the withdrawal of the political laws!" said KPRI coordinator Krisdiyanto.

Around 10.30am, Captain J Judiyanto from Danramil (Army military unit at Camat level) Bubutan negotiated on behalf of the protesters and the Governor's office. However because the Governor was not there, the KPRI and KNPD activists were only met by the head of public security Drs. Manggala and the front entrance. After the rally broke up, all of the posters and other items were burnt at the front entrance.

KPRI students to the Governor's office - Surabaya Post, July 11, 1997

As many as 50 students under the banner of the Indonesian Peoples Movement Committee (KPRI) held an action at the Governor's office on Jl Pahlawan, earlier this afternoon, Friday (11/7). They demanded that the general elections be rerun. The action which was supported by the East Java National Committee for Democratic Struggle (KNPD) began at 9.30am and was coloured by placards and banners with their demands. On arriving at the Governor's office they tried to speak with the Jatim Governor. They were stopped at the front gates and promised that they could speak with him at 11am. Hoever because the offer was considered to have been intentionally timed to conflict with Friday prayers, the demonstrators rejected the offer and broke up the demonstration themselves and left.

[Translated by James Balowski]