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Subject: Re: What is happening in Parliament Building JKT?
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 19:07:19 -0800
From: Anor Sihombing <A.Sihombing@massey.ac.nz>

This email was sent by a friend at Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia.

MPR Session

There is currently a great deal of concern regarding the forthcoming MPR session to be held from November 10th-13th 1998. At present we have information regarding the following: -

Large demonstrations focussing on the MPR compound in Senayan are likely to begin this Friday November 6th, 1998. Student groups including the Association of Islamic Students (HMI) hope to gather more than 10,000 people following Friday prayers to press their demands for reform. Demonstrations on a similar scale can be expected on Monday and Tuesday 9th-10th November, when other concerned groups are planning to join the protests. ABRI has announced that some 20,000 military and police personnel are on standby for this event with some 12,000 of them being ready to protect the MPR session. Police sources have indicated that firm action will be taken to ensure that the session takes place as planned, and force will be used to clear the streets if necessary. Water cannon is now the preferred tool for such crowd clearances, whilst the transportation of attendees by helicopter and transferal to the nearby Jakarta Convention Centre are also planned options.

Various student, political and religious groups are planning to participate in the demonstrations and tensions will undoubtedly be high. HMI, PDI, PAN, Barisan Nasional and other Islamic groups are all believed to be intending to make their voices heard. Whilst many groups are expected to be genuine in their peaceful protests, some will inevitably be manipulated for political aims. In addition, the appearance of Pemuda Pancasila, Pemuda Panca Marga and other pro-government youth groups will likely stir emotions. In particular, the appearance of Pemuda Pancasila at MPR protests in May led to scuffles between pro- and anti- government groups which almost escalated into more serious violence. The presence of rival groups at the MPR is a cause for concern.

It is normal that traffic is adversely affected during MPR sessions due to road closures required for VIP escorts, but it is clear that even if protests remain peaceful during the coming week movement around Jakarta is going to prove extremely difficult. Any non-essential travel both within Jakarta and to or from the city should be avoided. Any necessary arrivals at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport should be advised to avoid the toll road to Semanggi as long delays and road closures are inevitable. It is also noted that drivers have also suffered intimidation and cars have been damaged during recent protests at the MPR. An alternative route via Ancol and Sunter should be used.

ABRI are confident that the situation can be contained, and it is likely that any violence which may occur would be restricted to the area of the MPR. However it is advisable to take precautions in view of the obvious disruption that will occur, particularly around the Jl. Gatot Subroto and Jl. Jend. Sudirman areas, and the possibility of a confrontation leading to violence.

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