Eight Years Ago TodayStudent DemonstrationsAt the start of May 1998, students were holding peaceful demonstrations on university campuses across the country. They were protesting against massive price rises for fuel and energy, and they were demanding that President Suharto should step down.
On May 12th, students at Jakarta's Trisakti University, many of them the children of the elite, planned to march to parliament to present the government with their demands for reform. The police prevented the students from marching. Some time after 5pm, uniformed men on motorcycles appeared on the flyover which overlooks Trisakti. Shots rang out. Four students were killed
Hafidin Rayan, 22 (Civil Engineering Faculty)
Heriyanto, 21 (Mechanical Engineering Faculty)
Elang Mulyalesmana (Architecture Faculty)
Fendiawan (Economics Faculty)Riots of May 13-14
On the 13th of May there were reports of rioting in the area around Trisakti. President Suharto was attending a conference in Egypt and the military top brass went off to Malang in East Java to attend a ceremony. On the 14th of May, serious rioting took place in the Jakarta area. There were no signs of any uniformed soldiers on the streets.
Indonesian ethnic Chinese were the main target of the bloody riot, where allegedly Indonesian military members posed as ordinary people attacked their homes and allegedly mass raped the women. In the end, over 1,000 people died during these Jakarta riots, most having been burnt in malls and supermarkets but some having been shot or beaten. A government minister spoke of the damage or destruction of 2,479 shop-houses, 1,026 ordinary houses, 1,604 shops, 383 private offices, 65 bank offices, 45 workshops, 40 shopping malls, 13 markets, and 12 hotels.
Today, eight years later, there is still no closure
for the families of those killed. The killers have never been brought to trial, nor have those who orchestrated the events been satisfactorily identified. I do not intend to conjecture the who
behind these events. Those of us here at the time have our theories. All are agreed that on the streets the leaders of the looting and burning and the perpetrators of the gang-rapes were muscular men, wearing military boots
Earlier this morning, SBY announced that he won't drop corruption charges against ailing former dictator Suharto, citing public anger over the proposal."The waves of opposing and supporting voices are getting higher and this could lead to conflict," Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters. "I have chosen to shelve this problem ... until the right time."
There are few who are ready to "shelve this problem". This has been a time to remember and I have posted my thoughts and writing from that time in my May 98 archives.