20 December 2010

Anticorruption rallies end in chaos

Sarinah, Perempuan Mahardhika & KPRM PRD member
Jakarta Post - December 10, 2010

Andi Hajramurni and Ruslan Sangadji, Makassar/Palu -- Some student rallies 
to mark International Anti-Corruption Day on Thursday in a number of big cities throughout country turned ugly.

Rallies ended in chaos in Makassar, South Sulawesi; Palu, Central Sulawesi, and Kefamenanu, East Nusa Tenggara, where protesters were involved in violent clashes with police officers.

In Makassar, a clash took place along the 200-meter distance between the South Sulawesi governor's office and the campus of Indonesian Muslim University.

Up until 8 p.m. local time, both police officers and protesters stayed put in their positions with no one willing to withdraw. Later, local residents backed the police to drive the students away.

The students attacked the officers with Molotov cocktails, while the police responded by shooting tear gas, rubber bullets and water through two water cannons.

By evening, up to 20 students were wounded and a junior high school student fainted after becoming trapped in the clash. Three police officers were reported to have been injured after being hit with stones.

The students damaged a motorcycle thought to belong to a police officer and a passing crowd control truck. Its driver was mobbed. A police patrol car parked nearby was also damaged earlier in the afternoon.

In Palu, student protesters vented their anger by burning tires and throwing stones at police officers guarding the entrance to the city's prosecutor's office.

The police, who outnumbered the protesters, retaliated by driving the protesters away and arresting 31 of them. "We didn't really want to attack the police. But there was provocation and the rally ended up in this chaotic state," said Sarinah, the rally's coordinator.

Central Sulawesi Police deputy chief Sr. Comr. Dewa Parsana said that based on a recording, the police were attacked by the protesters.

The recording showed protesters attacking the police in front of the Central Sulawesi High Court using tomatoes, rotten eggs and stones.

In Kefamenanu, a clash between the police and protesters also took place, although there were no reports of injuries.

The protesters destroyed the gate of the local prosecutor's office as an expression of disappointment in the office, which they said had failed to thoroughly settle a number of graft cases.

The protesters, rallying in front of the local legislative council, demanded the thorough settlement of a major corruption case implicating Regent Gabriel Manek and a number of other local officials.

[Yemrin Fointuna contributed to this article from Kupang, E. Nusa Tenggara.]

Note: Photographs from demonstration in Palu, Central Sulawesi.

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