Police, soldiers break up anti-government protests in Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Police and soldiers used sticks to break up anti-government protests by hundreds of students today in two cities.
Some students said they were protesting the planned re-nomination of Indonesia’s President Suharto, who is likely to be re-elected unopposed to a seventh-consecutive term in March.
Suharto, 76, has governed Indonesia for three decades and is Asia’s longest-serving leader.
In Jakarta, about 100 protesters, some waving placards and singing nationalistic songs, clashed with police when they were denied access to a monument to Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule.
The gathering was dispersed within a few minutes, and about 30 protesters, some badly beaten, were taken away in police vehicles, witnesses said.
Earlier in Bandung, about 110 miles southeast of Jakarta, dozens of police and soldiers blocked 200 students from marching on a local government building, protesters said. Three students were hospitalized with injuries, witnesses said.
Police confirmed that a protest took place, but declined to comment further.
A student, who identified himself as Andi Triana, said the demonstration began peacefully as a protest against the government’s response to drought-induced famine in the remote province of Irian Jaya.
He said the students also wanted more action to save the life of an Indonesian maid now facing the death penalty for murder in Saudi Arabia.
``It’s not clear how it turned into an anti-Suharto protest. But it is clear that the students don’t want Suharto to be nominated again,″ he told The Associated Press by telephone.
Suharto, a retired general, took office after his troops crushed an abortive, but bloody, communist coup in 1965. Since then, he has tolerated little dissent in his pursuit of political and social stability.