Sat, 11 Nov 2000

Recent history's heroes remembered in street plays

JAKARTA (JP): Heroes of recent history including slain students were remembered Friday as hundreds of students and aspiring actors marked National Heroes Day of Nov. 10.

They performed street plays involving bamboo angklung music instruments, effigies and giant shoes to deliver their expression of "anti militarism."

They demanded among others abolishment of the dual function doctrine of the Indonesian Military and its military territorial structures, and the annulment of the state emergency law.

They also urged military faction members in the legislative body to be withdrawn. The last session of the People's Consultative Assembly justified military representation until 2009.

"People must gather to oppose cruelty of militarism," yelled the protesters, who claimed to be members of the Student League for Democracy.

League chairman Rheinhardt Sirait said the group wanted to remind people that they had the same public enemy, the army, which he said had wrought much damage in the country.

"But we want to convey the issue through a carnival," the student at the University of Indonesia said, adding this was more effective.

The rally started at about 2:30 p.m. in front of Atmajaya University campus on Jl. Sudirman, South Jakarta, and headed for the Hotel Indonesia roundabout.

The rally involved some 500 members of several theater groups in Yogyakarta, Solo and Jakarta, namely Taring Padi, Caping and People Culture Working Network (Jaker).

Jaker's performance at the roundabout showed three people carrying two effigies representing Golkar and the military. They were both thrown into a mock up jail made from painted bamboo.

One of the artists, Suroso, said the heroism conveyed represented those who had died to defend freedom against oppression.

There were also giant military "shoes" made of paper with several styrofoam "skulls" underneath.

Flocking onlookers led to a 30-minute congestion. Among them, student Ian said, "For me, those students who died during the Semanggi tragedy are heroes".

The clash among students and security officers in November 1998 led to 15 killed.

The student of the Institute of Social and Political Sciences said heroes were not necessarily political leaders, and cited slain labor activist Marsinah, UI student Yap Yun Hap, who was killed during another rally in 1999 and missing poet Widji Thukul.

In another play, several actors in various hues were "shot" and "beaten" by four others carrying a "tank" represented by a green paper covered bier.

The rally then continued to the campus of the University of Indonesia in Salemba, Central Jakarta. The demonstrators held orations there and burned the effigies, and dispersed at about 6:30 p.m. (07)