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The PRD in action: April 1995 - July 1996

April 17, 1995, Medan: students demonstrate at the local parliament (DPRD) against President Suharto's statement that protesters who confronted him on his state visit to Germany earlier that month were "crazy, fanatic". Ten of the demonstrators are subsequently arrested, nine from Medan and one, the SMID national coordinator for international relations, from Yogyakarta.

April 25, 1995, Yogyakarta: Some 300 students gathered near Gajah Mada University, to protest the arrest and beating of their colleagues in Medan. Andi Arief, then head of SMID- Yogyakarta, appears and says the "crazy fanatics" are the corrupt military. The protest is broken up by the district military command.

May 1, 1995, Jakarta: PPBI and SMID activists, led by Dita Sari (head of PPBI), lead several dozen workers and students to the Ministry of Labour as part of the commemoration of International Labour Day. They demand a minimum daily wage of 7,000 Rupiah (US$3.50), an end to corruption, the right to organise, an end to military intervention in labour disputes, and freedom for labour leader Muchtar Pakpahan (previously arrested in 1994 in connection with labour demonstrations in Medan). Five people are arrested and later released, including Dita Sari, Nasrul (PPBI-Bogor), Fitri (PPBI-Tangerang), Ruchiat (PPBI- Cakung, North Jakarta), and Wignyo, (PPBI-KBN Industrial Estate, North Jakarta).

May 1, 1995, Semarang: Some 400 students and workers gathered at Diponegoro University in Semarang for International Labour Day and try to march toward the Central Java governor's office. Police and military block their way, clashes take place, and sixteen students are arrested and briefly held, including Petrus Hariyanto, the general secretary of SMID, and Lukman, national director for PPBI. Garda Sembiring, of SMID-Jakarta, is also arrested. The demonstrators carry banners in English reading "Demand Minimum Wage" and "Militarism Go to Hell".

July 18, 1995, Bogor: PPBI and SMID activists organise 13,000 workers from PT Great River Industries, a garment factory that produces Triumph underwear and Arrow and Kenzo shirts and that is partly owned by Indonesian Minister of Labour Abdul Latief and former coordinating minister for politics and security, Admiral Sudomo. As the workers marched toward the Bogor parliament, demanding a minimum wage of 7,000 Rupiah, menstrual leave for women workers and an end to the government-controlled union, SPSI, the military set up a blockade to prevent them from going inside the grounds of the parliament building. Six activists who had broken through the blockade, were arrested, including Dita Sari and Lukman of PPBI, and five SMID activists from Yogyakarta, Semarang and Jakarta. They were held briefly and released.

December 7, 1995, Jakarta: SMID and PRD activists join East Timorese students in the occupation of the Dutch and Russian embassies to protest Indonesia's occupation of the former Portuguese colony.

December 11, 1995, Solo: Some 14,000 workers take part in a strike and rally organised by PPBI at Sritex textile factory (PT Sri Rejeki Isman) in which President Suharto's eldest daughter, Tutut, and Minister of Information Harmoko are both shareholders. Among other things, the factory makes Golkar uniforms and shirts. Fifteen PRD organisers are arrested by the military just before the program for the rally begins on the grounds that they did not bring their identity cards. Among them are Garda Sembiring, Herman of PRD-Surabaya, and Kelik Ismunanto of PRD-Jakarta. Edy of PRD- Solo leads the workers on a march to the local parliament where they demand the minimum wage with a separate food allowance, a monthly paycheck calculated on thirty rather than twenty-six days, menstrual leave for women workers and an end to the system of setting production targets.

February 5, 1996, Menado: activists of SMID-Menado and the Indonesian Peasants Union (Serikat Tani Indonesia), an affiliate of PRD, help organise a rally for peasants from the village of Kaneyan, Minahasa, North Sulawesi, who are protesting the construction of high-voltage power lines across their land. The protest has been going on since late 1994 and both the police and the village head have told peasants that opponents of the project will be considered "obstructors of development" and communists.

March 11, 1996, Jakarta: Fifty students from the industrial area outside Jakarta SMID (SMID-Jabotabek) led by Buyung H. march to the Ministry of Labour to demand free and fair elections and hold an "open forum" in front of the ministry. Garda Sembiring reads their demands for repeal of five 1985 laws that restrict democracy. The demonstration is peaceful.

March 23, 1996, Solo: Meeting of KIPP, Solo, led by students from Serikat Rakyat Surakarta, an affiliate of KIPP [and PRD], broken up by the subdistrict military command

March 26, 1996, Lampung: Establishment of KIPP-Lampung, with executive committee composed of SMID, Forum Diskusi Mahasiswa-Lampung (Student Discussion Forum), LBH-Lampung, SBSI, and various Protestant and Sukarnoist student groups. Bambang Ekalaya, coordinator for KIPP-Lampung [and SMID leader], arrested and interrogated for nine hours at the regional military command (Korem 043) following the opening of the meeting.

April 25, 1996, Pemalang: Over 100 students organised by the Indonesian People who Support Megawati (Masyarakat Indonesia Pedukung Megawati) and PRD hold an "open forum" to discuss democracy, election-monitoring and events in Ujung Pandang. Twenty-three students are briefly detained.

April 22-26, 1996, Ujung Pandang: Demonstrations to protest increase in transportation fares. The first, on April 22, was coordinated by the Student Pro- Democracy Alliance (Aliansi Mahasiswa Pro-Demokrasi) with one group marching to the local parliament and another to the office of the governor of South Sulawesi. Both took place without incident. On April 23, the demonstrations grew in size, and riot police were out in force. On April 24 the first violence took place, with several minibuses being overturned. Security forces then began striking out at students and lecturers alike. By the end of the day, armoured personnel carriers enter the campus of Universitas Muslim Indonesia and troops storm the campus. At least three students die, according to officials, from drowning after jumping into the river to escape the army. More than 100 are wounded. The next day was even more violent, with students from virtually every college and university in the city involved. Following the army action, demonstrations in sympathy for those killed and wounded erupted all over Java and Sumatra. [Members of a preparatory committee for SMID participated.]

May 2, 1996, Solo: SMID-Solo organises demonstration to protest Ujung Pandang in front of the literature faculty of Universitas Sebelas Maret (March 11 University). Demonstrators are blocked by three trucks of KOSTRAD troops and one from the district military command. SMID leaders urge marchers to defy them. Some fifteen people are detained briefly, including Prijo Wasono, head of SMID-Solo and Dadang Kosasih, of the latter's advocacy bureau.

May 8, 1996, Yogyakarta: SMID-Yogyakarta organises march and demonstration in solidarity for those killed in Ujung Pandang.

May 9, 1996, Bogor: PPBI helps organise a work stoppage at PT Indo Shoes in the industrial zone in Citeureup, Bogor. More than 7,000 workers take part.

May 14, 1996, Yogyakarta: Bigger demonstration to protest Ujung Pandang deaths organised by SMID-Yogyakarta. Participants estimate that marchers grew from 120 people to some 900, demanding an end to repressive military actions, such as those in Aceh (1989-91), Lampung (1989), East Timor, Tanjung Priok (1984), Nipah (1993), and Timika (1996). Yanti, a SMID- Semarang leader, reminds people that they have no political rights. The marchers head for the Yogyakarta parliament, but the military blocks their way. The SMID leaders decide on confrontation; several are wounded in clashes and taken to local hospitals.

June 14, 1996, Semarang: A rally of over 100 PDI representatives and activists from PRD-Semarang to support the candidacy of Megawati takes place in front of the literature faculty of Diponegoro University.

June 17, 1996, Surabaya: Close to 1,000 supporters of Megawati from PDI and PRD calling themselves the Megawati Supporters Front march in the streets.

June 17, 1996, Yogyakarta: Hundreds of SMID and PRD activists have a pro-Megawati demonstration.

June 18, 1996, Salatiga: Hundreds of students organised by PRD call for the end of the military's "dual function" [political-military role], the repeal of five 1985 laws regulating politics and support for Megawati. Demonstrators occupy the local parliament until almost midnight.

June 18-19, 1996, Jakarta: Some 5,000 workers from PT Indo Shoes, PT Ganda Guna and PT Kingstone, organised by PRD and PPBI, hold a rally at the national parliament building. Budiman Sujatmiko of PRD gives a speech about how important it is for workers to have their own party so that they can pursue the struggle for their economic and political rights. He asks them to support Megawati Sukarnoputri. Dita Sari of PPBI urges them to make political demands and fight oppression. A delegation of workers and PRD/PPBI is received by four representatives of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) including Sabam Sirait, Marcel Bleding and Aberson. Police and army try to arrest some of the workers as they come out. Garda Sembiring of PRD is beaten. Many of the workers are brought back to Bogor by the mobile police brigade in trucks. The work stoppage at PT Indo Shoes continues the next day.

June 19-20, 1996, Jakarta: A pro-Megawati demonstration organised by an alliance of different groups, including the PRD, starts with about 4,000 people on June 19 and builds to some 15,000 people by the next day. The marchers tried to move from the National Monument in the centre of the city to PDI headquarters but were stopped at the Gambir train station by police and military. Four people were reported to have died and dozens were injured when demonstrators and security forces clashed.

June 21, 1996, Lampung: 350 people gather in Lampung for a pro-Megawati demonstration, broken up by military.

July 8, 1996, Surabaya: An estimated 20,000 workers from ten factories march on the streets of Surabaya demanding the minimum wage. Twenty-four activists from PPBI are arrested and brought to metropolitan Surabaya police headquarters; all but two, Dita Sari of PPBI and Coen Hussein Pontoh, are released. Those two are charged under article 160 of the criminal code with "incitement to violence". Others are arrested later for involvement in the same incident.

Adapted from: "Indonesia: Tough international response needed to widening crackdown". Human Rights Watch/Asia, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for Human Rights, August 1996 - Vol. 8, No. 8.

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