Thu, 30 Aug 2001

Students charged with inciting chaos

JAKARTA (JP): The South Jakarta District Court began on Wednesday the trial of two students charged with inciting chaos in connection with their protest against the fuel price hike in June.

Prosecutor Lukimanto charged Mixil Mina Munir, 22, and Arif Wardoyo, 25, members of the City Forum (Forkot) with Article 160 of the Criminal Code on inciting chaos and Article 214 Paragraph 1 on defying security officers.

A fuel price hike protest in June turned violent when protesters from the Computer and Information Technology Institute (STMIK) and State Academy of Islamic Studies (IAIN) hurled stones at police officers who were observing the demonstration, the prosecutor told the court.

The protesters displayed banners reading, "Fuel price is up, (other) prices are also up, let's fight it". They also stopped passing public transportations and asked the passengers to join the protest, Lukimanto said.

Before the trial began, about 100 students from IAIN and the Jakarta Network (Jarkot) staged a rally in front of the court to protest the trial and detention of Mixil and Arif.

Arif is a student of STIK, while Mixil, a Forkot leader, is an IAIN student.

Both are currently being detained at Cipinang Penitentiary.

They were represented by Johnson Panjaitan from the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) along with some 30 lawyers from the Student Movement Advocation Team.

"This trial is a step back for the government, it is politically motivated. The students were purely protesting against the fuel price hike," Johnson told The Jakarta Post.

Meanwhile, Forkot's hunger strike at the parking lot of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) continues.

Not long after Mixil's detention, Forkot members launched a hunger strike to protest against their leader's detention and urge the Commission to form a team to investigate the human rights abuse in the case.

Since June 29, 24 students have participated in the strike.

The students come and go, replacing students who fall ill hunger striking. So far, all the hunger strikers have been treated for dehydration or malnutrition, according to the movement's spokesman, Mustar.

Most of the students who have been treated at the hospital do not return to strike, he added.

On Aug. 24, the Komnas HAM office asked the students to leave its compound as their presence was interfering with the office's activities, Asmara Nababan, chairman of the commission told the Post.

"They are occupying our parking space, it's been about two months now. I think the hunger strike is no longer effective in our premises as the case has been brought to court," Asmara said.

He said the commission had formed a team to investigate the case, but it had not completed the investigation.

Once a case is brought to court, the commission no longer has the authority to intervene, he said.

"Besides, we don't have the financial resources to keep covering the medical expenses of the striking students," he said.

According to Asmara, the commission has spent about Rp 6 million (US$522) on the student's hospital bills.

"For the time being, we will tolerate them, but we have also notified the police. So far, we haven't take any stern action against them," Asmara said.

However, the students refused to leave, arguing that the commission had yet to fulfill their promise of forming an investigative team.

They pledged to continue their strike at the commission compound until their friends are released, even if it would take years. (06)