Indonesian students charged


Indonesian students charged

SEMARANG — Two students are facing serious criminal charges following a meeting critical of the lack of democracy in Indonesian elections.

About 30 students, organised in the Semarang Students Forum, held a "National Awakening Rally" on May 20 in the grounds of the University of Diponegoro Semarang.

They criticised the system of prior vetting of legislative candidates, because it creates homogeneity and impotence amongst the people's representatives. The executive, they said, is controlled by a certain group which can appoint 60% of the MPR — the People's Consultative Assembly, which elects the president and determines long-term policy.

Because of this, the students said, the elections were a waste of time, money and energy in the midst of the battle for development.

The program began at 10 a.m. and ended at 11.30 a.m. with close surveillance by the armed forces and police. Before the rally had dispersed, security authorities dressed in civilian clothes arrested four students suspected of being the "brains" of the activity. The four were put in a military truck and taken off to an unstated destination.

But a few minutes later, it was discovered that they were being detained in Semarang Police Headquarters.

The next day, two of the students were freed but were ordered to report twice a week. The two still held were formally charged with subversion.

On May 22, the police further charged the two with criminal acts under clause 154 of the Criminal Code, involving "making statements of enmity, hatred and humiliation against the government of Indonesia". The arrest warrant allows the two to be held until June 10. As of May 22, no friends or relatives had been allowed to see them.