Military attack Yogyakarta protest

Issue 

Military attack Yogyakarta protest

A mass rally on September 11 at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, against the introduction of restrictive traffic laws, was attacked by the police and military, forcing participants to leave the campus. Many were beaten, kicked and tortured. Ten students were arrested.

The rally of 1000 people was supported by students, pedicab drivers, vendors and high school students (including from Solo, Semarang, Purwokerto and Jakarta).

The new law imposes heavy fines and jail terms (up to six months) for routine offences such as disobeying traffic signals, parking illegally or not wearing a seat belt. It will seriously affect the livelihood of street vendors, pedicab, bus and taxi drivers.

The fines are as high as 1 million rupiah (A$700) — virtually impossible for the average worker to pay. This will lead to increased bribery of police, and place further pressure on transport workers already hit by rising registration taxes on vehicles and increasing exploitation from transport companies.

The parliament passed the bill in March 1992, and President Suharto signed it on May 12. Beginning in July 1992, demonstrations, protests and strikes grew, organised by a range of community groups such as the Committee of People's Solidarity for Land Transport, which helped to organise the most recent demonstration.

To avoid international embarrassment during the Non- Aligned Movement Summit, Suharto intervened directly, using emergency powers to delay the implementation of the law by one year, until September 1993. This followed statements by the Jakarta military commander, Major General Harseno, that anybody attempting to make trouble during the summit would be shot.

The Students Solidarity For Democracy in Indonesia, Forum for International Solidarity in Indonesia and other human rights organisations have asked all supporters of human rights to send protests to the Indonesian Embassy, Darwin Circuit, Yarralumla ACT 2600, fax: (06) 250 0866.

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