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One killed in Pasuruan as unrest continues SURABAYA - One person was killed and four others injured in a fierce clash between people claiming to be President Abdurrahman Wahid's supporters and security officers in tense Pasuruan on Wednesday, while another group of people ransacked and torched a Muhammadiyah senior high school in neighboring Situbondo. However, in general the situation remained under control in East Java, the stronghold of Abdurrahman, contrary to people's belief that on Tuesday more people would take to the streets to protest the House of Representative's (DPR) plenary session in Jakarta.
After torching the Muhammadiyah school in Situbondo, the mob proceeded to the local legislature. They said they wanted to force the speaker of the legislative council and the regent to sign a written rejection of a People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) special session. Police prevented them from seeing through their plan. Eyewitnesses said that the clash began after some 2,000 people, who gathered at the Kumala intersection in downtown Pasuruan, moved toward a shopping center guarded by police and soldiers. "The personnel fired warning shots, fearing that the mob would ransack the stores. But instead of leaving the area, the mob retaliated by throwing stones and explosives at the officers," said a local, who requested anonymity.
The security personnel then opened fire, shooting one person in the chest. The man, identified as Fathan, 25, died in Pasuruan State Hospital at 1 p.m. "Fathan was not one of the protesters. He had just left a drink stall when he was hit by a bullet," Abdul Qadir, one of the victim's neighbors, said. "His relatives will sue the police for the fatal incident."
In a bid to calm the situation, the Pasuruan branch of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) met with the clergymen of Protestant churches attacked by mobs on Monday and Tuesday. Muzammil Syafe'i, NU Pasuruan chairman, said that a joint investigation team between the NU and Christians had been set up to deal with security. Calm returned to Pasuruan after military exercises were conducted by the second division of the Malang-based Army Strategic Reserves Command's (Kostrad) Second Division of the 18th Brigade's 502nd Airborne Battalion.
An officer denied that the parachute troops were sent to curb the rioting. "Our troops were in Pasuruan as part of an annual jump." A soldier was killed during the exercise, the officer confirmed. Surabaya, the capital of East Java, was calm. Most roads were deserted as people chose to stay home. A series of violence hit several towns in East Java following the issuance of the President's controversial executive order, known as Maklumat.
Rumors had it on Tuesday that huge a demonstration by people claiming to be Abdurrahman supporters would be held in Surabaya. Unconfirmed reports said that people who were against the convening of an MPR special session would occupy Ketapang Port in Banyuwangi and the Paiton power station in Probolinggo on Wednesday. Both the power station and the port were well guarded. Some 600 troops were deployed to guard the power station while one and half companies of the police elite's Mobile Brigade (Brimob), a company of the Navy's marines and battleships KRI Lambung Mangkurat and KRI Sutanto were on alert at the port. It was the heaviest security measure in Ketapang Port's history.
Some 500 people from the surrounding districts of Banyuwangi headed for Ketapang Port but were blocked off by police officers in Bedayungan, Banyuwangi. One was reportedly wounded by gunfire, and three others were arrested for inciting unrest. Banyuwangi Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Anton Setiadi confirmed the arrests. National Police chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro had instructed his men to shoot on sight anyone who tried to occupy strategic spots, including the presidential palace, the DPR/MPR building, power stations and state television and radio stations.
Setiadi stressed that up to 5:30 p.m. local time the situation in Banyuwangi regency was relatively calm. Ketapang harbor chief Taufik Handriawan said he saw no people illegally entering the port. "It is so quiet here," he said. So far police have arrested 174 people over the East Java fracas. East Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Sutanto said that the violence had been masterminded by a third party. "Each protester was paid between Rp 5,000 and Rp 50,000." He vowed to hunt for the masterminds.


Meanwhile, NU chairman Hasyim Muzadi said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the vandalizing of churches and schools in East Java was unacceptable. Hasyim said that on June 1, all NU ulemas would gather in Malang regency, East Java, to raise fund for the rehabilitation of the destroyed buildings.
He said that the NU would take responsible only for the damaged churches and school buildings, not properties belonging to political parties. He was sure that the destruction was not masterminded by East Javanese people. "I know them (East Javanese) very well. Interreligion conflict seems illogical in East Java. The relationship between the NU and the Muhammadiyah is very smooth," he said.
Hasyim expressed hope that the people would stop expressing their political aspirations with violence. The properties of Muhammadiyah have become targets in recent violence. In Banyumas, Central Java, two Molotov cocktails exploded at an Aisyiah kindergarten belonging to the Muhammadiyah at dawn on Wednesday. No fatalities were reported but the school building was totally destroyed.
Banyumas Police chief Comr. Imam Basuki said that three unidentified men had been loitering near the building hours before the blast. In response to the House' plenary session in Jakarta, pro and anti-Abdurrahman groups staged protests in Makassar, South Sulawesi; Semarang, Central Java; and Bandung, West Java.

Posted in Violence @ 31 May 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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