Mon, 16 Oct 2000

Armed men attack Kawanua pub

JAKARTA (JP): Some 100 armed men in Muslim clothes, stormed the Kawanua pub and restaurant on Jl. Abdullah Syafi'i in Tebet district, South Jakarta, in the early hours of Sunday.

They smashed the pub's windows, chairs and tables, musical instruments, the bar, the kitchen and toilets, causing the owner of the building to suffer millions of rupiah in damages.

Witnesses said the pub was not operating when the group arrived at about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday in three public minibuses, armed with swords, wooden sticks, crowbars and axes.

"I heard that there would be a raid by civilians, which often happens over the weekend, so I closed the pub even though Saturday nights used to be the busiest night," the pub owner said.

The security guards on duty that night couldn't do anything to prevent the mob and fled to save their lives, returning when the attackers left the building about 30 minutes later.

"We're very confused and upset because we had closed the pub but they (the group) still raided us. What else do they want?" said the owner, who also lives in Tebet.

She said the pub, which had operated from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. since late 1998, had previously been raided by people who claimed to be members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

During the initial attack on Oct. 4, 1999, the group had warned the pub to close its operation and just smashed the windows and bar, and injured one of their guests.

The owner said she had followed the FPI's demand, by closing the pub every Thursday and Sunday afternoon, but the group returned to attack the pub again on April 22, 2000.

The second raid was even worse and again brought damage to the windows and bar of the venue, which is the only bar located in the residential area of Tebet.

Several residents in the neighborhood, which has a strong FPI presence, said that they were often disturbed by the loud music coming from the pub.

Reza Pahlevi, an executive of the FPI, separately said on Sunday that there was no such direct instruction from FPI headquarters to raid the bar. However, local residents have long observed that the pub had been used as a transaction site for drug dealers and prostitution.

"We have warned them several times, but it seems that they tried to play around with our warnings.

"The latest attack was the accumulation of our anger," he told The Jakarta Post by phone. (07)