Jakarta arrests more activists

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The Independent Online
More than a fortnight after violent demonstrations in Jakarta, the Indonesian government appears to be intensifying its crackdown on political dissidents with the arrest and detention of 10 more pro-democracy activists.

Those arrested are members of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), a small left-wing group which is blamed by the government for fomenting the riots on 27 July.

Brigadier General Amir Syarifuddin, for the armed forces, confirmed yesterday that some of the new detainees would be charged with the capital crime of subversion.

The PRD leader, Budiman Sujatmiko, 27, was arrested near Jakarta on Sunday night with nine of his supporters. The authorities have not disclosed their whereabouts and, according to independent lawyers, at least two of the detainees have been denied legal representation.

As many as 200 people remain under arrest since the violence last month, although with independent organisations barred from prisons and hospitals exact numbers are impossible to determine. At least three people were killed and hundreds injured in the riots which began after police raided the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and violently evicted the supporters of Megawati Sukarnoputri, the deposed PDI leader. The armed forces quickly blamed "communist insurgents" intent on overthrowing the 30-year-old government of President Suharto.

Human rights organisations and foreign governments, including the United States, Australia and the European Union, have expressed concern at the methods used in quelling the riots. Amnesty International last week said it "fears that accusations of a revival of communism will be used by the authorities to justify further arrests of peaceful political activists and to crack down on the legitimate activities of peaceful pro-democracy, human rights and other groups in Indonesia. The Indonesian authorities are creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in which journalists, human rights activists and others are afraid to publicise details of these and other human rights violations".

Ms Megawati was questioned last week about her links with the PRD, and has been summoned for another session tomorrow. The leader of the country's biggest unofficial trade union, Muchtar Pakpahan, has been held for a fortnight under the anti-subversion law which enables police to detain suspects for a year or more without trial.

On Monday, Pramoedya Anata Toer, one of Indonesia's most distinguished novelists and a lifelong thorn in the side of successive regimes, was also called in by police. The 70-year-old writer has spent a total of 17 years in Indonesian prisons, although he has never been charged with an offence.