UMI incident a symptom of military’s reemergence

University Students Joint Alliance – May 3, 2004
Students protest against police violence at UMI (kutaikartanegara)
Students protest against police violence at UMI (kutaikartanegara)

[The following is a translation of a joint statement issued by the Joint Alliance of Indonesian University Students (Aliansi Bersama Mahasiswa Universitas Indonesia) following the recent clash between police and students at the Indonesian Muslim University (UMI) campus in Sulawesi’s provincial capital Makassar. On May 1 police stormed the UMI campus where students were protesting the detention of Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir who was rearrested on terrorism charges. At least 61 students were seriously injured in the assault.]

  • Fully investigate the violence which occurred on the UMI campus
  • Reinvestigate cases of past human rights violations including the Trisakti and Semanggi tragedies
  • Try the generals who have violated human rights
  • Reject Megawati, SBY and Wiranto as presidential candidates
  • Reject presidential candidates from the military

Military violence against students occurred again on May 1 when students at the Indonesian Muslim University from the Military Opposition Front (Front Perlawanan Militer) who had earlier held a demonstration at the Makassar National Election Commission rejecting presidential candidates from the military were attacked and beaten by police.

This incident resulted in scores of UMI students being seriously wounded. The actions by Makassar police who went as far as entering a campus of higher education where they beat and trampled on students indiscriminately. This is further evidence that the government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Vice-president Hamzah Haz and their apparatus can no longer be tolerated because their rule has been ridden with militarism and anti-democratic polices.

As far as we are concerned, the move by Indonesian police chief Da’i Bachtiar in dismissing the South Sulawesi chief of police, Yusuf Manggabarani, will not resolve the basic problem of how militaristic methods are so often used by the regime in stemming the tide of democracy and reform in this country. Similarly, the expressions of sympathy and the apology given by Megawati cannot in any way pay for what occurred on the UMI campus on May 1.

The incident which occurred in Makassar is in fact not the first of its kind under the governments of former President Suharto and then Megawati. Repressive actions are frequently carried out by the armed forces and the police when students are holding demonstrations, such as the Trisakti and Semanggi tragedies1 which [current presidential candidate former armed forces chief] General Wiranto was involved. To this day however, these cases of human rights violations have not been resolved and are evidence of the lack of seriousness of the government in struggling for the supremacy of democracy, a government which has instead castrated democracy. This does not yet include the other numerous cases of human rights violations which have occurred because of the use of violence and guns by the armed forces and the police.

Moreover, on May 19, 2003, the Megawati government and [presidential candidate] Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) who was then still holding the position of coordinating minister for politics and security, declared a state of martial law in Aceh which has now resulted in the Aceh emergency military command killing thousands of Acehnese civilians.

In what direction will democracy go if military power and its guns continues to be used to resolve the problems of the nations which at the moment is in a state of crisis in all aspect of life. And can we trust the rotten promises given by Wiranto and SBY during the recent general elections where they promised more reform and democratisation in the future? Meanwhile they are clearly abusing their authority and power resulting in the deaths of more ordinary people, people who have died meaninglessly because of military violence and their guns.

Wiranto and SBY’s promised during the presidential elections are just illusion and lies and cannot be trusted by the people!

The enemy of democratic life is not just the military as an institution but is also reflected in the actions and deeds of the government. And any civilian government who uses militaristic methods and is dependent on the military is an enemy of democracy and a danger to people’s power in its entirety.

We, the Joint Alliance of Indonesian University Students therefore wish to make the following statement:

1. We demand the resolution of the case of police violence at the UMI campus which violated the sovereignty of an autonomous campus.

2. We reject all presidential candidates from the military

3. We reject the presidential candidates Megawati, SBY and Wiranto

4. We demand that cases of human rights violations be reopened including the Trisakti and Semanggi tragedies which have yet to be resolved and which occurred when General Wiranto held the position of armed forces chief.

5. We demand that the generals who are perpetrators of human rights violations be brought to trial, one of these is Wiranto.

6. We demand that Indonesian police chief Da’i Bachtiar resign from his post

Democracy will never be born from the snout of a gun2

Jakarta, May 3 2004

s/- Maeda Yoppy, LMND
Kamaluddin Latief, HMI-MPO
Ahmad Nur Hidayat, chairperson BEM-UI

The Joint Alliance of Indonesian University Students is made up of:

  • The University of Indonesia Student Executive Council (BEM-UI)
  • The University of Indonesia National Student League for Democracy (LMND)
  • The University of Indonesia Islamic Students Association Reform (HMI-MPO)


1. In May 1998, security personnel shot into a crowd of student protesters from the Trisakti University near their campus in West Jakarta, killing four students and injuring several. This proved to be the spark which set-off three days of mass demonstrations and rioting in Jakarta which eventually lead to the overthrow of former President Suharto. The Semanggi I and II cases involved the fatal shooting of dozens of student demonstrators in Jakarta in November 1998 and September 1999 respectively.

2. This demand is also a play on words originating from Megawati’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle election campaign slogan which became the catchphrase of the year: “coblos moncong putih” – “punch the white snout”, referring to the party’s symbol of black bull on a red background with a white snout.

[Translated by James Balowski.]