Students battle Suharto troops in Lampung

The battle against Suharto - a report from the field The following report is based on a detailed chronological account of the actions on March 19 and 20 in Lampung, South Sumatra up until 4.30pm Indonesian time 120 students injured, 8 with broken bones, 55 unaccounted for, two feared killed and 121 were arrested after a 4,000 strong demonstration at the University of Lampung in South Sumatra on Thursday 19 March calling for the ouster of Suharto. By the evening, 72 students only had been released. On March 20, students rallied again. Starting with a core of 30 students on the campus chanting anti-Suharto slogans, the demonstration soon grew to 4,000 again. The 30 students marched around the campus chanting: the people will win! the elections must be honest and fair! join the demo, who is afraid! Soeharto is impotent, he must resign! don't make a mistake, its not the Chinese to blame! stop nepotism!

Soon another 100 from nearby the University of Muhammidiyah arrived, but were blockaded by the military outside the campus. The field commander of the demonstration delivered a speech condemning the blockade. At the same time another 60 students arrived from local high schools and other smaller campuses. A women's delegation joined and read poetry condemning the regime. Soon after a troupe of student jesters appeared parodying the Anti-Riot Squad that is usually on standby for demonstrations.

After a series of songs and speeches and the crowd had reached over a thousand in number readied to march off campus. Singing the struggle song of the 1945 revolution, Hello Hello Bandung, the students marched off campus. When the several thousand students and local people reached the Al-Wasi'i Mosque chanting Down with Suharto they were met by 4 trucks of Anti-Riot Battalion soldiers and 20 motorised vehicles from the Lampung area army command. Police also blocked one other main road into the city.

As the marchers surged forward to break through the blockade, troop reinforcements arrived,. including trucks equipped with tear gas. The rally started chanting as they tried to surge further onto the road: "One command! One action: overthrow Suharto!"

The rally field commander, Petrus, gave orders for the marchers to gather together to hear more speeches. The crowd again surged forward to get further onto the streets. The crowd chanted "Reform or death! Long live the people!" They started shouting that the military were just the guard dogs of the regime. More troop reinforcements arrived, bringing the number to about 500.

The rally's spirits were lifted further when several score of high school students arrived to join the open forum that was being held in front of the military blockade. A fire truck arrived. The fire trucked attacked the rally with water cannon just as it turned to start a march back to the campus. From behind the blockade troops started throwing rocks into the rally.

The front section of the march consolidated ranks to protect those behind who sought cover or sought out rocks to return the fire form the military. The military then fired tear gas into the crowd dispersing the front section, but those in the back acted as a new front barricade allowing those who had fled behind to regroup and once again return the fire with stones and rocks.

The military grabbed whoever they could, beating and detaining students. Women and high school students were especially targeted. Local housewives and residents started shouting hysterically as they witnessed students being beaten. Many housewives tried to join the march but were held back by the military.

About 50 students were detained as they rally made its way back to the campus, all the time keeping up the stone battle with the military. Inside the campus, two police were taken hostage by the students who announced that they would be detained until all arrested students were released. Meanwhile 36 students, led by Habiburrahman, began a hunger strike in solidarity with the arrested students.

Lampung student demo chronology


[The following is an abridged translation of a chronology of an action by the Concerned People's Committee (Aksi Komete Peduli Rakyat). Please note that this was the second day of protest at the Unila university. 120 were arrested on the first day and released after protests and lobbying. Eight people suffered broken bones, 55 are unaccounted for and two are suspected to have been killed - Max Lane, Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET).]

Concerned People's Committee - March 19, 1998

Once again, an action rejecting Suharto was held at the Unila university campus. The battle between students and youth resulted in a number of students being wounded and around 60 people arrested.

The action by students from the Committee of Concerned people, began just before 9.30am to the sounds of a megaphone siren and a drum in front of the Sociology and Politics Faculty building at the Unila University. The marshal ordered the participants to sing the song "Indonesia Raya".

The action demanded political and economic reforms. Posters at the action read "The people will surely win", "Elections must be honest and fair", "Join the demo - who is afraid", "Suharto is impotent, step down" and "Stop nepotism".

At 9.45am, the marshal announced that one hundred student demonstrators from the Muhamadiyan Metro University (UMM) had been arrested by security forces near Bundaran Rajabasa. One of the participants gave political speech along with shouts of "Viva the People, Viva Democracy" and "Overthrow Suharto". He explained that the aim of the action was to demand political and economic change.

Just before 10am, more students arrived bringing the number of demonstrators from UBL, UNILA and UTB, along with high-school students and youth, to around 60. "Reject Suharto", "Hang Suharto" they shouted. The rally became more enthusiastic when students from UMM arrived bringing the total demonstrators to 200. They also brought banners which read "Reform or death", "Reduce prices" and "The three demands: political reform, reject Suharto, reduce prices".

At 10.30am, the rally had grown to 250 demonstrators. The atmosphere became more heated when a student read the Proclamation IV followed by a poem read by a women which demanded the dictator [Suharto] step down. Shouts echoed across the campus.

A number of students came forward wearing anti-riot gear made from cardboard which read "Soldiers like riots". The "Soldier Clowns" marched to the sound of a drum.

The action became even more heated when the marshal invited Intelligence agents to give a speech about the political situation. Unsure of themselves, they ran away from the demonstration.

Just before 11am, they formed into a column to begin a "long march". Now 600 strong, the rally was escorted by the students wearing cardboard anti-riot gear who "protected" the action and yelled "the people together will not be defeated".

They moved off a few minutes later -- the numbers of demonstrators now in the thousands -- towards the exit to the Unila campus, stopping to sing "Hello-Hello Bandung". Around 20 intelligence agents followed the march.

When they reached the campus gates it was blocked by four large anti-riot trucks and 20 military vehicles from the Bandar Lampung Kodim (Komando Dearah Militer, District Military Command). The road from the Rajabasa bus terminal had already been closed of by police. The students continued to move toward the military blockade, trying to force their way through. Two more trucks arrived loaded with fully equipped troops with tear-gas.

By 11.30, the thousands of students had became very heated because they were prevented from going out into the streets. Yelling "Overthrow Suharto', a number of demonstrators began throwing rocks at the military blockade in front of the gates. Political speeches were given rejecting the New Order regime. Again they tried to forced their way through the blockade yelling "Reform or death" and abusing the soldiers, calling them the "dogs of the New Order"

At 12.15pm, two more truck loads of anti-riot troops arrived boosting their numbers to around 500.

As scores more students arrived from STM Negeri, a fire truck suddenly attacked the students as the march was going to return the campus, and from behind, the military began throwing stones at the demonstrators. Demonstrators at the front responded by forming a blockade, while those at the rear were surprised by the rock throwing. Some of the demonstrators threw rocks back at the troops. The marshals instructed them to stay calm and not be provoked,

The military began attacking with tear-gas. Although the rally became disorganised, those at the front were ready to intercept it, while those in the rear tightened their ranks and looked for stones. When those at the front withdrew, they were replaced by others. Students and troops continued to pelt each other with stones.

The military then moved in to break up the action, hitting demonstrators, dragging others away. One student who was badly beaten, dragged of and arrested, was a women student from STM. Seeing this, local people began screaming with women shouting "God is great" [an Islamic call to battle], "The military are brutal, stop the beating". Some of the women wanted to join in the action but were prevented by the military who threatened them with pistols.

Just before 12.30pm the action was closed with the reading of a statement and a prayer. But the security personal again showed the arrogance of the New Order dictatorship. In front of local people they continued to beat demonstrators indiscriminately and even more women were arrested and beaten. At 12.45pm, a women who had been hit in the head collapsed unconscious in front of the Al-Was'i Mosque.

At 1.30pm, two demonstrators returning home on their motorbike were stopped at the Unila campus gates and arrested. They were taken away in a military vehicle and their whereabouts are still unknown. Fifteen minutes later, around 50 demonstrators were taken away and a number of others who had been wounded were taken to several hospitals around Bandar Lampung. Their condition is still unknown.

At 2pm, the demonstration still continued with students and military pelting each other with stones. At the same time, two police who were negotiating with university staff came out of the rector's office and were grabbed by demonstrators. It was announced that "We will hold the two police officers until 5.30pm, because our comrades are being held so now we will detain them, until our comrades are released we will not let these two police officers go".

At 4.30pm, two members of Mapla, Ridwan and Firman were dragged from their motorbikes and trodden on. 36 students being held on the campus have also begun a hunger strike.

Names of those arrested:

1. Alex Chandar - Unila student
2. Subhan - FH Unila
3. Dede S - Malahayati student
4. Rifko - FE Unila
5. Hengki - STM
6. Fandi - Student
7. Danil Nugroho - A2l/STIE
8. Andi - Student
9. Yudi - Student
10. M. Reza - Student
11. Faisol - FT Unila
12. Galang - FH Unila
13. Samsudin - FH
14. Rustandi - FH
15. Budiamin - FH
16. Siti Rahmmatika - FH
17. Shinta - FH
18. Rika Winata - FE
19. Komarudin - D3 Tehnik
20. Arifin
21. Denrinal - FE
22. Suarno - FE
23. Sulistiyo hardi - FE
24. Hendi - FH
25. Selvi - FH
26. Susangko hadi FKIP biology
27. Warsid - FKIP geography
28. Warjito - FT
29. Dwilaksono - FT
30. Elvi Styarini - UBL
31. Kabul - Youth
32. Ernita - UBL
33. Lambuk - FMIPA
34. Warso - FKIP
35. Robeta diah ernita - FKIP
36. Musa - Youth
37. Edi fadilah - FE
38. Dedy Yuliansyah - FH
39. Rihan - A2l/STIE
40. Izal - A2L
41. Ahmad - Student
44. Boy - Student
45. Dahlia - UMM
46. Yana - UMM
47. Santi - UMM
48. Ratna - UMM
49. Ina - UMM
50. Yanti - UMM
51. Didik - Student
52. Yani - Student
53. Suhendra
54. Adek Firdaus - UML
55. Pryo Kimia - MIPA
56. Joko - MIPA Biology
57. Iwan Juliawan Fisip - UTB
58. Masrifah Fisip - UTB
59. Yuliani Fusip - UTB
60. Bari - UMM
61. Endes - UMM
62. Amriawan - UMM
63. Adek Wijanarko - Fisip. Unila
64. Budiman - FKIP
65. Beri Pertanian
66. Diah Oktarina - FH
67. Rino Akuan - FH
68. Riki
69. Ari Wibowo
70. Firman - KTJ FH
71. Oji Fisip
72. Daeng Novrian - Fisip Unila, disappeared
73. Arief Fisip - UBL
74. Bambang Irhami - Disappeared
75. Andi Gembul
76. Hendri
77. Ananda B.
78. Sutikno
79. Bahrul Alam
80. Yopi Irawan - FE Unila, hospitalised at the Abdul Muluk Hospital
81. M. Ikhsan - FE UNILA RS. Imanuel
82. Dasril Yanto - Merdeka journalist, disappeared

More complete information will follow compiled by the PMPL advocate team.

[Translated by James Balowski, ASIET Publications and Information Officer]

Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 23:49:45 +0100 (MET)

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