Subject: JP: Protests Against Military Candidates, New Order Continue
Also: Anti-military demonstrations dog Wiranto and Gus Solah; Demos against military candidates a betrayal of democracy: SBY
The Jakarta Post Thursday, May 13, 2004
Protests Continue Against Military Candidates and New Order Arrival
The Jakarta Post, Cirebon/Kupang/Yogya
Demonstrations continued on Wednesday in several parts of the country against an apparent military comeback in the political sphere following the nominations of a number of retired generals as presidential candidates.
Hundreds of students in Cirebon, West Java, staged a rally to oppose candidates with military backgrounds in the July 5 presidential election.
The 300 protesters from various universities and student organizations grouped in the Anti-Militarism People's Movement (Geram), marched to the cirebon district military headquarters, the local police station and the offices of the Cirebon mayor.
The protest ended peacefully, although the students blocked Jl. Siliwangi outside the mayor's offices for one hour from 12 midday.
The student barricade stopped traffic on the Cirebon stretch of the north coast highway. However, police rerouted vehicles onto alternative roads.
The students said the political revival of the military meant the betrayal of the "spirit of reform and democratization" that emerged after the 1998 downfall of Soeharto
The nomination of presidential candidates with military backgrounds proved that Soeharto's authoritarian New Order regime was trying to claw back its power, they added.
Two former chief security ministers, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Wiranto, both retired four-star army generals, are contesting the first ever direct presidential election on July 5. The two, who have been nominated by different parties, are expected to attract big support at the polls.
A similar protest was held in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, where hundreds of students from the Struggle for Reform Action Front(Fajar) rallied at the provincial police station against the presidential candidates with military backgrounds.
They urged the soldiers to stay in their barracks and stick to defending the country as professional soldiers.
The students also criticized civilian presidential candidates who sought military support. The demonstration caused traffic jams on major thoroughfares across Kupang.
The protests in Kupang and Cirebon coincided with the commemoration of the May 12, 1998, shooting of four Trisakti University students ahead of Soeharto's fall.
The protesters demanded that the legal authorities and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) thoroughly investigate the incident.
They also called for the police officers involved in the recent brutal attack on the campus of the Indonesian Muslim University (UMI) in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and the shooting of civilians in Manggarai regency on Flores island, to be brought to justice.
In Yogyakarta, hundreds of students staged separate protests against militarism, warning of a return of New Order forces in politics following the good showing of the Golkar Party in the April 5 legislative election, and Wiranto's selection as the party's presidential candidate.
The demonstrators also said the emergence of the Democratic Party, which nominated Susilo for the presidency, showed that the military remained a powerful player on the country's political stage.
Anti-military demonstrations dog Wiranto and Gus Solah
Detik.com - May 11, 2004
Luhur Hertanto, Jakarta Anti-military demonstrations dogged [former armed forces chief] Wiranto and Gus Solah [National Human Rights Commission member Solahuddin Wahid] as they left the National Election Commission (KPU) after registering as Golkar Party presidential and vice- presidential candidates on Tuesday May 11.
Although they could hear the shouts, Wiranto and Gus Solah appeared unconcerned. After registering themselves they went directly to their car and left the KPU offices on Jalan Imam Bonjol in Central Jakarta.
A number of posters adorned the demonstration such as “Don’t let the military return to power” and “The military has failed to lead the nation”.
The action which began at 2pm was still continuing at 3.30pm with demonstrators sitting on the KPU’s fence and blocking half of the road in the direction of the Hotel Indonesia roundabout causing a traffic jam.
The demonstrators were from three different groups including the Trisakti Student’s Association, the Underground Student Community (Komunitas Mahasiswa Bawah Tanah, Kombat) and the Independent National Student Movement and totaled around 300 people.
They arrived in separate waves and but did not come together as one gorup. They demanded that the KPU refuse to accept presidential and vice-presidential candidates from the military. This was because SBY [former coordinating minister for politics and security Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] and Wiranto do not have a good track record on upholding human rights. Both of them have been involved in cases of human rights violations.
Retired General Wiranto is suspected of being the brains behind the vocations in East Timor and Trisakti(1) while retired General SBY is suspected to have know about and allowed the May 27 attack on the Indonesian Democratic Party headquarters to go ahead(2).
The demonstrators said therefore that there is absolutely no guarantee that if a military figure is elected as president their government will uphold the principles of human rights. (sss)
1. On May 12, 1998, security personnel shot into a crowd of student protesters from the Trisakti University near their campus in West Jakarta, killing four students and injuring several. This proved to be the spark which set-off three days of mass demonstrations and rioting in Jakarta which eventually lead to the overthrow of Suharto.
2. Following weeks of protests at the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters in Central Jakarta by pro-Megawati PDI supporters after the Suharto regime engineered Megawati's removal as the party's democratically elected chairperson, on July 27, 1966, paid thugs backed by the military attacked and destroyed the PDI offices resulting in the death of as many as 50 people. Popular outrage at the attack sparked several days of mass rioting and violent clashes with police. Many had hoped that with Megawati's ascendancy to the presidency those responsible would be held accountable however Megawati and other leading party figures have publicly distanced themselves (refusing to attend annual commemorations) from the issue. Those who were eventually brought to trial in late 2003 have all been low ranking soldiers or civilians and have either been acquitted for lack of evidence or given light sentences. None of those believed to have organised or led the attack have been brought to trial.
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Demos against military candidates a betrayal of democracy: SBY
Detik.com - May 11, 2004
Muchus Budi R., Solo Democratic Party presidential candidate and retired general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono alias SBY says he is saddened by the wave of demonstrations opposing presidential candidates with a military background. In his assessment, these opponents are holding the actions within the framework of democracy however in fact they are betraying democracy itself.
“It is the right of everyone, including retired TNI [armed forces] officers to compete though democratic means to nominate themselves as presidential or vice-presidential candidates. If indeed [they] don’t like me, yeah well, they don’t have to vote for me”, said SBY. This issue was taken up by SBY during the declaration of the SBY success team in Central Java and Yogyakarta which was held at the Wisata Niaga Building in Solo on Tuesday May 11.
“It’s up to the people who will be voting. The spirited [attempts] to prohibit and block [candidates from the military] is in fact a betrayal of democracy and the democracy which we are struggling for together at the moment”, said SBY who was of course greeted by thunderous applause by his supporters.
The declaration of SBY and vice-presidential candidate [former coordinating minister for people’s welfare Jusuf] Kalla’s success team was attended by more than 500 supporters from Central Java and Yogyakarta. SBY appeared together with his success team, one of whom is the former Iskandar Muda (Aceh) territorial military commander Major General Djali Jusuf. As in previous campaign events, before the event ended SBY sang a duet with Djali Jusuf of his favorite song “Rainbow in my eyes”.
[Abridged translation by James Balowski.]
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