Fri, 12 May 2000

Chinese-Indonesian hold rally

JAKARTA (JP): Some 20 activists of a Chinese-Indonesian youth organization staged a rally on Thursday in front of the State Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta to urge President Abdurrahman Wahid to punish any parties responsible for the May 1998 riots.

The protesters also expected the government to erase all discriminatory regulations applied to Chinese-Indonesians, as well as military organizations intervening in civilian affairs.

"It has been two years and no one has been punished for what they did during the riots," Ali Sutra of the Chinese-Indonesian Youth Solidarity for Justice (Simpatik) said.

"We can't let such impunity go unpunished," he added.

It was the first rally for decades held by a Chinese- Indonesian group.

Ali also demanded that the government pay compensation to the victims, including the alleged rapes of Chinese-Indonesian women.

"The rapes of Chinese-Indonesian women did happen," he said, but gave no details.

So far, there has been no official report by the government to confirm such cases. But the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) reported that 16 rape cases occurred during the disorder.

"We also want the government to revoke all discriminatory regulations against Chinese-Indonesians, such as the requirement to have a special nationality certificate (SBKRI)," Ali said.

"It's not enough to only allow the performance of Chinese Liong (Dragon) and Barong (Lion) dances. It must be followed up in the legal sector," he added.

Chinese performances were banned during the New Order era and lifted only when Abdurrahman, also known as Gus Dur, took the presidential seat in October last year.

"It's also important to dissolve the Chinese Affairs Coordinating Body (BKMC) under the State Intelligence Coordinating Board (Bakin)," Ali said.

Simpatik plans to hold an anniversary ceremony for victims of the riots on Friday at SMU 19 senior high school on Jl. Perniagaan in West Jakarta.

The school was the first established for Chinese students in 1901 by Tiong Hoa Hwee Koan (THHK), an institution providing education for Chinese-Indonesians.

"We will light 1,000 candles and float 1,000 lanterns as well as hold a mass prayer service to commemorate the (May 1998) victims," Ali said.

The riots were sparked by the fatal shootings of four Trisakti University students on May 12, 1998 by snipers, whose identities remain unknown to this day.

Commemorating the riot's second anniversary, a human rights organization urged the President on Thursday to reopen the case to investigate the shooters and masterminds.

"The President has to show his commitment to democracy, human rights and law enforcement by breaking the cycle of impunity," chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) Hendardi said in a statement.

"Politicians and residents who choose to be silent and prefer to concentrate on power sharing and political games are already violating human rights by a crime of silence," he added. (nvn)