By Mikael Hidayat
BANDUNG — Of the six Bandung Institute of Technology students arrested here in 1989 for anti-government activities, four are to be released.
The six, Bambang Sugianto, Enin Supriyanto, Fadjroel Rachman, Moch Djumhur Hidayat, and Ammarsjah and Arnold Purba were arrested for abusive language and burning tyres. These activities, for which they were imprisoned for three years, occurred during a student protest against a lecture by the minister of home affairs.
In Indonesia, it is illegal for students to organise political activity on campuses. The student organisations that are allowed to operate are tightly controlled by the government. In 1982, when student activists at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta who were within the government-permitted structures invited banned author Promoedya Ananta Toer to speak, the government abolished the student organisation and imprisoned four students for three months.
The Bandung activities were first classified as subversive. However, the head of Sukamiskin Prison in Bandung, Thamrin Tamin, is quoted in Kompas as saying that the students had committed ordinary crimes and that they would be treated the same as other convicts.
This is a further backdown by officials who, after transferring the students to the high-security island prison Nusakambangan, had to reverse the decision after public outcry.
After their release, the students will be on probation, and will have to report to the authorities periodically.
Two students remain in Bandung jails serving three years each, three students in Jogjakarta are serving eight years, and one in Jakarta is serving five years — all for political "crimes".