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Leftist Blamed in Riots Arrested with Other Opposition Figures

August 12, 1996

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ The government has arrested a leftist leader accused of inciting political riots last month, and is considering charging him with a crime punishable by death.

Budiman Sujatmiko, leader of the unauthorized Democratic People’s Party, was one of 10 opposition figures arrested Sunday and Monday in a crackdown after Indonesia’s worst civil unrest in decades.

The government is weighing subversion charges against Budiman, armed forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Amir Syarifuddin told The Associated Press on Monday.

The government claims communist subversives were responsible for violent protests that flared July 27 after police raided the headquarters of an opposition party headed by pro-democracy leader Megawati Sukarnoputri. Four people were killed in the riots.

``They have sought to topple the government,″ Sports Minister Hayono Isman quoted President Suharto as saying Monday. ``The July 27 incident proved that communism is still a threat.″

Budiman denied the allegations in a statement issued last week from hiding, saying they were only an excuse to crack down on forces demanding greater democracy under Suharto’s 30-year-old regime.

Opposition figures say that instead of being a leftist plot, the riots were fueled by popular anger at poverty, corruption and official interference in Megawati’s party.

Suharto overthrew Megawati’s father, President Sukarno, in 1966, and apparently is afraid her growing following could undermine his regime.

On Monday, police questioned two members of Megawati’s party for about 3 1/2 hours. They denied knowing Budiman.

Legislator Sophan Sopian told reporters that he and Sukowaluyo Mintohardjo, a fellow Parliament member from Megawati’s party, complained that although they were summoned as witnesses against Budiman, most of the questions had nothing to do with him.

Also Monday, a novelist who spent 14 years in prison for alleged communist activities was questioned for about seven hours at the attorney general’s office.

``They tried to connect me with Budiman and the rioting,″ Pramoedya Ananta Toer told The Associated Press. ``But I told them I am an old man of 72 years and have nothing to do with Budiman and the rioting.″

One of Sukarno’s most prominent supporters before his ouster, Pramoedya has been a nominee for the Nobel Prize.

Pramoedya has been under house arrest since being released from prison in 1979. All of his 38 books _ four of them written in prison _ are banned in Indonesia.

A top military official accused Pramoedya last year of being leader of a clandestine communist group, but didn’t offer any evidence.

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