INDONESIA: Democracy activists hospitalised by fire-bombing

August 1, 2001


At 4am on July 22, a tent occupied by hunger strikers in the Sumatran town of Lampung was doused with petrol and set alight by thugs, suspected to be military personnel in plain clothes.

Two of the hunger strikers — GPK (Popular Youth Movement) member Ardiansyah and JAKER cultural network member Sigit — were hospitalised with severe burns to their bodies. Another two hunger strikers — Ipul from the leftist People's Democratic Party (PRD) and Agus from JAKER — were also burned on the hands and legs.

The hunger strike was part of a campaign organised by the FAOB, a broad pro-democracy coalition, against the return to power by the forces of Suharto's New Order dictatorship. The FAOB comprises 16 Lampung-based organisations including the PRD, GPK, JAKER, the local Catholic (PMKRI) and Protestant (GMKI) student organisations, and the National Student League for Democracy (LMND).

The main demands of the FAOB include the call for early elections, judicial prosecution of the leaders of Suharto's Golkar party, the reinstatement of government price subsidies on fuel and basic goods, confiscation of the assets of New Order cronies and repudiation of Indonesia's foreign debt.

The firebombing of the FAOB hunger strikers' tent is part of the escalation of violent attacks upon those groups at the forefront of resisting the comeback to power of the Suharto era crony capitalist-military establishment. Nineteen members of the PRD are now in jail in Bandung. Fifteen members of the Acehnese People's Democratic Resistance Front (FPDRA) and other democratic organisations were arrested in Banda Aceh two weeks ago. There have also been attacks by armed right-wing militia groups on the offices of several different activist organisations associated with the PRD.

[Pip Hinman is the national coordinator of Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET).]

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