Indonesia's military imposes curfew
in trouble-hit province
Tense calm prevails in Tasikmalaya
By Susan Sim, Indonesia Correspondent

The Sunday Times. December 29, 1996. Page 3.

JAKARTA -- A tense calm prevailed in the riot-rocked West Java 
district of Tasikmalaya yesterday as the military imposed a night 
curfew and sent in more troops while workers began cleaning up the 
debris from two days of unrest.

There were no reports of further violence, which claimed four 
lives in Thursday's mob rampage in Tasikmalaya town, and which 
spilled over to neighbouring towns on Friday.

Even with six battalions from the Bandung-based Siliwangi command 
and the Army Strategic Reserve patrolling the area, the 
authorities, however, were not taking any chances.

A 9 pm-to-dawn curfew was imposed on Friday night, with soldiers 
given orders to shoot violators, especially those in groups, a 
resident, Ms Hensari, told The Sunday Times by phone.

She said she also saw 12 truckloads of troops entering the town 
that night. The town has been sealed off to vehicular traffic.

Tanks were also guarding the entrance to Bandung, 116 km away. Ms 
Hensari, a staff member of the Legal Aid Burear there, said.

Meanwhile, Muslim leaders and government officials have blamed un-
named groups for inciting the riots, in which thousands of Muslim 
youths burnt police stations, churches and shops belonging to 
ethnic Chinese Indonesians.

Religious Affairs Minister Tarizi Taher said the riots, which 
erupted on Thursday during a protest by Muslim students against 
the beating of three of their religious teachers by local police 
officers, was the result of engineering by "irresponsible 
elements".

The Antara news agency yesterday quoted him as saying: "Someone 
who is known not to be from Tasikmalaya, has incited Muslims to 
destroy the existing order."

He said the individual, whom he did not name, had spoken to crowds 
at the main mosque in the town before violence erupted.

The head of the Council of Indonesian Muslim scholars, Mr Hasan 
Basri, yesterday accused a "formless organisation" with possible 
links to the banned Communist Party of Indonesia of causing the 
riots. He did not, however, offer any evidence for his statement.

When contacted by The Sunday Times yesterday, Mr Abdurralman 
Wahid, chairman of the country's largest Muslim organisation, the 
Nahlatul Ulama (NU), said that elements of extremist Islamic 
groups like the Darul Islam movement were still active in 
Tasikmalaya.

The rebel group, whose objective is to make Indonesia an Islamic 
state, was decimated by the military in 1963.

Intelligence officers had also told him that only three of the 184 
people arrested in connection with the riots were from the NU, and 
even then they were only accussed of throwing stones, he added.

The NU, which has a membership of more than 30 million, runs most 
of the 400-odd Islamic boarding schools in the area.

Confirming reports that the riots did not erupt spontaneously, 
legal aid worker Ms Hensari told The Sunday Times that at the same 
time that a crowd burnt the police station in the centre of 
Tasikmalaya, mobs also attacked other stations in all the sub-
districts. Altogether, about 10 stations were destroyed.

"The masses have long been angry with the police, who take money 
even from the poor," she said, adding that the issue of police 
brutality then became distorted into an anti-Chinese and anti-
Christian affair.

Her own home in Tasikmalaya was pelted with stones because her 
father was of Chinese origin, she said. The mob stopped only when 
a Muslim neighbour shouted out that her family was Muslim.

Among the four dead in Tasikmalaya was a Chinese woman whose 
charred body was found in the rubble of her auto shop that was set 
on fire.

A Chinese man died of a heart attack when his shop was attacked. A 
rioter fell from a truck and was run over. There were no details 
of the fourth victim.

~~Forwarded by e.p.lim. All typos if any are his.~~


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