Sat, 13 Mar 1999

ISM members protest 'Kompas' report

JAKARTA (JP): Some 50 people grouped in the Maluku Friendship Union (ISM) staged a noisy rally in the compound of the daily Kompas in Central Jakarta on Friday afternoon, protesting a report on the Maluku bloodshed published by it recently.

There were no clashes reported but the 10-minute rally was tense when some of the protesters, among them people attired in Muslim accessories, charged the atmosphere by repeatedly shouting "burn, burn, and burn."

Luckily, the group was not incited to act on the slogan.

Under the escort of a handful of security personnel, the protesters left peacefully from the location on Jl. Palmerah Selatan.

Arriving in three Metro Mini minibuses and two private cars, the protesters alleged that Kompas had manipulated the statement made by the spokesman of the Ambon Muslims Society, Thamrin Elly, in its Tuesday report of the Ambon clashes.

ISM secretary Darmi Marasabessy said that Thamrin had told the group that he never made a remark to the effect that President B.J. Habibie and Armed Forces Commander Gen. Wiranto should resign if they are unable to solve the Ambon crisis as Kompas had quoted him in their front page report.

"The report manipulated the facts and it really does hurt the feelings of Muslims in general and Muslims in Maluku in particular," Marasabessy said.

"Kompas therefore has to make a correction to the report and ask Muslims for forgiveness," he told the daily's executives, including deputy chief editor August Parengkuan.

While Marasabessy read the group's statement using a megaphone, the other members with banners in their hands repeatedly shouted words like "Allahu Akbar (God is Great)" and "Long live Habibie, Long Live Wiranto".

In response, August Parengkuan promised to publish the ISW statement on Saturday.

"We'll accommodate their objections," he said. (ind/bsr)