Indonesia fears wave of killing

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Dozens of people are missing, following protests in Indonesia in recent days. Human rights groups said yesterday that they fear that many of them may never be seen alive again.

The Independent has seen evidence gathered by human rights activists in Jakarta, where families have reported their worries about at least 78 missing relatives. The opposition protests are against the regime of President Suharto, who has ruled Indonesia for almost 30 years.

The opposition demonstrations, in support of Megawati Sukarnoputri, are the biggest that Indonesia has seen for three decades. At least two people have died, and dozens have been injured. So far at least, the government has shown no inclination to allow Ms Megawati - daughter of the former leader, President Sukarno - to participate fully in the political process.

Indonesia has in recent years become one of Asia's newest economic tigers. Indonesia is the biggest and economically most powerful country in south- east Asia. But while on the economic front, all the indicators have been positive, the state has shown little enthusiasm for increasing participatory democracy.

At the weekend, police raided the offices of Ms Megawati's party, where pro-democracy demonstrators had been conducting a sit-in.

After the raids, as many as 10,000 people took to the streets. Supporters of the opposition often express concern about corruption, as well as about the lack of democracy.

Armoured cars and troops have been on the streets of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. In the short term, the authorities appear to have brought the unrest under control.

However, this may yet come to be seen as a turning-point, in the post- independence history of Indonesia. Despite the powers at its disposal, it seems unlikely that the regime will survive the events of recent days unscathed.

Further reports, page 8