Wed, 17 May 2000

Forkot demands release of three arrested friends

JAKARTA (JP): With dozens of teenage street children marching in front of them, some 200 members of the City Forum (Forkot) university students group rallied on Tuesday outside the Jakarta Police Headquarters in South Jakarta, demanding the release of three students detained by the police on Friday.

The protesters stopped outside the headquarters after being confronted at the gate by 200 police officers armed with batons and shields. Some of the officers were carrying teargas launchers.

No clash was reported and the protesters, who arrived at the scene at 2:50 p.m., dispersed peacefully two hours later. The Forkot members, however, caused a heavy traffic jam along Jl. Sudirman and nearby roads, which are usually hectic in the late afternoon.

"We want to meet Nurfaizi," said Forkot spokesman Irwan Fachmi, referring to Jakarta Police chief Maj. Gen. Nurfaizi.

"If he refuses to release our three friends, we'll do anything in our power to get them out of here.

"We can also create chaos," said Irwan, who claimed to be a sixth semester student at Syariah Islamic law department of the State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN).

Irwan identified his arrested friends as classmate Mixil; Edi Cahyono, a second semester student at Bung Karno University; and Muhammad Rizal, an industrial engineering student at Mpu Tantular University.

Earlier, city police announced they had detained the three students, along with three unemployed men, for possessing Molotov cocktails and rocks used in clashes between the police and students during a rally near the residence of former president Soeharto in Central Jakarta on Friday.

The unemployed men were identified as Chandra Kirana, Aan Maulana and Joko Wibowo.

According to Irwan, his friends, particularly Mixil, were innocent and the police had arrested him based on statements made by Aan, who was arrested at the same time.

"The police should instead arrest (former president) Soeharto and seize all his assets. Why are they arresting small men like Mixil?" Irwan said.

When officer Lt. Col. Aqil from the crowd control division informed the students that his boss, Nurfaizi, was out of the office and attending a meeting at City Council, the students decided to sit in the middle of Jl. Sudirman to block off traffic.

A friend of Irwan's then threatened officer Aqil that the students would only leave the site on three conditions.

"First, the police should give us water to drink. Second, the police should provide buses for us so that we can go wherever we want to, and third, the police should be able to show Mixil at least standing up there (pointing toward Nurfaizi's office), so that we can wave at him," the student said.

In response, Aqil immediately made available drinking water, but told the students that he had no authority to take Mixil out of the police detention cell.

"I will also arrange the buses for you," Aqil told them.

About half an hour later, seven empty public minivans arrived outside city police headquarters at the instruction of the police.

Irwan announced that the buses had arrived, "From IAIN, especially for the students."

The students then left in six of the seven buses and headed to the Attorney General's Office in South Jakarta, at about 4:30 p.m.

Before leaving, Irwan said he and his friends would return to the police headquarters again for the same reason on Wednesday. (ylt)