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Indonesia Protest Turns Violent

May 12, 2000

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Police fired tear gas today at hundreds of student protesters who had gathered outside former President Suharto’s home demanding that he be put on trial for corruption.

More than 100 police officers with shields had been holding the protesters about 300 yards from the house for hours when they suddenly fired tear gas canisters and charged the demonstrators.

The students responded by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, and police chased them down side streets, firing round after round of tear gas. At least one journalist was injured when he was hit by a rock.

The demonstration marked the second anniversary of a police attack that killed four students at a college in Jakarta. The killings came at the height of the student-led, pro-democracy movement that forced Suharto to resign as president on May 21, 1998.

``Hang Suharto! Hang Suharto!″ the demonstrators shouted outside his house in central Jakarta before the demonstration was broken up.

``Put Suharto on trial now!″ said one of the many posters they carried.

The 79-year-old former president has been charged with corruption but not put on trial yet. Lately, he has refused to be questioned by prosecutors, saying he is too ill.

Earlier today, about 1,000 anti-Suharto college students demonstrated outside Parliament.

This morning, a ceremony was held to unveil a new memorial at Trisakti University honoring the four students who died there two years ago. Funded by teachers, students and relatives of the victims, the memorial includes four 32-foot steel pillars.

Each one contains a large bullet hole toward the top. The memorial was installed in a parking lot in front of the school, where the students were shot.

Several hundred students and a few relatives of the victims placed four large wreaths at the base of the monument.

``We really feel the loss of our four colleagues. ... We will continue the struggle for them and the fight for democratic reforms,″ said Raja Tobing, president of the student union.

Despite Suharto’s replacement by B.J. Habibie, who introduced some democratic reforms, and the election in October by President Abdurrahman Wahid, who has continued them, many students believe more are needed.

One would include a greater effort by the government to prosecute Suharto for the millions of dollars that he and his family allegedly stole from government funds and programs during his time in office.

Eighteen police were arrested after the Trisakti shootings, but only four have been convicted and sentenced to terms of less than a year in jail for disobeying the orders of their commanders. None of the accused policemen has faced homicide charges.

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