Andi Hajramurni and Ruslan Sangadji, Makassar/Palu -- Some student rallies
to mark International Anti-Corruption Day on Thursday in a number of bigcities throughout country turned ugly.
Rallies ended in chaos in Makassar, South Sulawesi; Palu, CentralSulawesi, and Kefamenanu, East Nusa Tenggara, where protesters wereinvolved in violent clashes with police officers.
In Makassar, a clash took place along the 200-meter distance between theSouth Sulawesi governor's office and the campus of Indonesian MuslimUniversity.
Up until 8 p.m. local time, both police officers and protesters stayed putin their positions with no one willing to withdraw. Later, local residentsbacked the police to drive the students away.
The students attacked the officers with Molotov cocktails, while thepolice responded by shooting tear gas, rubber bullets and water throughtwo water cannons.
By evening, up to 20 students were wounded and a junior high schoolstudent fainted after becoming trapped in the clash. Three police officerswere reported to have been injured after being hit with stones.
The students damaged a motorcycle thought to belong to a police officerand a passing crowd control truck. Its driver was mobbed. A police patrolcar parked nearby was also damaged earlier in the afternoon.
In Palu, student protesters vented their anger by burning tires andthrowing stones at police officers guarding the entrance to the city'sprosecutor's office.
The police, who outnumbered the protesters, retaliated by driving theprotesters away and arresting 31 of them. "We didn't really want to attackthe police. But there was provocation and the rally ended up in thischaotic state," said Sarinah, the rally's coordinator.
Central Sulawesi Police deputy chief Sr. Comr. Dewa Parsana said thatbased on a recording, the police were attacked by the protesters.
The recording showed protesters attacking the police in front of theCentral 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 anexpression of disappointment in the office, which they said had failed tothoroughly 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 implicatingRegent Gabriel Manek and a number of other local officials.
[Yemrin Fointuna contributed to this article from Kupang, E. NusaTenggara.]
Note: Photographs from demonstration in Palu, Central Sulawesi.