More student leaders arrested in Indonesia

Issue 

More student leaders arrested in Indonesia

By Max Lane

Demonstrations have taken place in Yogyakarta and the central Java city of Solo in protest against the arrest of 10 activists from Students in Solidarity with Democracy in Indonesia (SMID) in Medan on April 20. The 10 students, including international affairs officer Bimo Nugroho, have been charged with insulting the head of state.

Under city arrest, Nugroho is now undergoing daily interrogation by the local provincial police headquarters. The Medan SMID students had demonstrated the day before against President Suharto's statement labelling Indonesians involved in recent overseas anti-Suharto demonstrations "mad, insane and irrational".

In Yogyakarta on April 25, more than 300 students, later joined by several hundred more, gathered at the main street outside the University of Gajah Mada.

Apart from SMID, there were speakers from the Indonesian Nationalist Student Movement, the Islamic University and High School Students Association, Students Solidarity from the Indonesian Islamic University, the Yogyakarta branch of the Peoples Democratic Union, the Yogyakarta-based Institute for Community Development as well as a representative from the Indonesian Centre for Working Class Struggle.

As a street theatre presentation, entitled "The Military Run Riot", and speeches began, the crowd swelled to block the main boulevard running alongside the university. The university militia arrived to disentangle the traffic jam, and they were soon followed by troops from the local military garrison. Military personnel in civilian clothes attempted to disperse the crowd, but were unsuccessful.

On the morning of April 27, 400 students in Solo rallied at the local university campus in solidarity with Bimo Nugroho and other SMID students in Medan. Representatives from SMID, PPBI (Centre for Working-Class Struggle) and the usually conservative Islamic Students Association also spoke.

The atmosphere in Solo became even more tense when a spontaneous bus strike unfolded after a soldier shot dead a bus conductor during a dispute between a private bus company and a military-owned bus company. There also had been a small demonstration the day before in solidarity with workers taking an employer to court for unfair dismissal. Thirteen students and workers, including well-known radical poet Wiji Thukul, were detained overnight.

At 3pm on April 27, 50 armed soldiers from the local military command surrounded the Solo SMID office and arrested local SMID leader Agus Jabo, who, at the time of writing, was still imprisoned.