Front Page







World Summary

On Air


Talking Point


Low Graphics


Site Map

Saturday, February 7, 1998 Published at 10:41 GMT

image: [ BBC Correspondent: Jonathan Head ]Jonathan Head

There has been another outbreak of rioting in Indonesia linked to rising food and commodity prices. A large crowd attacked shops owned by ethnic Chinese on the island of Sumbawa in Eastern Indonesia. Similar attacks have taken place in other parts of Indonesia over the past three weeks. The top military officer has warned people to be prepared for further unrest as the country's economic crisis continues. The armed-forces Commander, General Feisal Tanjung was addressing a parade of 10,000 troops in the capital, Jakarta, which was organised to show the military's readiness to deal with more trouble. From Jakarta, this report is from our correspondent, Jonathan Head:

According to a military spokesman in Sumbawa, a crowd of several hundred people formed outside the local parliament to protest over the increased cost of living. They then marched through the main town, pelting shops with stones and setting some of them on fire.

Most of the inhabitants of Sumbawa are devout Muslims but as elsewhere in the country, much of the business life is controlled by the Chinese minority. This is only the latest violent incident to shake Indonesia.

Anti-Chinese riots have broken out in several other regions over the past month, leaving the ethnic Chinese in a state of fear. Many of them say they're prepared to leave Indonesia if the situation doesn't calm down.

In an attempt to reassure them and other nervous Indonesians, the armed forces has been putting on a show of force in the capital, Jakarta. At the end of three days of anti-riot exercises, around 10,000 troops and police gathered to hear the armed forces Commander warn them to be prepared for further unrest as the full impact of the economic crisis begins to be felt.

Tough and repressive measures may be necessary he said but he urged them to act only within the law. Many Indonesian companies are thought to be on the verge of bankruptcy and they're expected to start laying off increasing numbers of workers over the next few months.

The government has started special schemes, helped by World Bank funding to create new jobs. But they're unlikely to be able to make up for all the employment lost through the collapse of much of the private business sector.

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


  Relevant Stories

04 Feb 98 | World
World Bank expresses fears for Indonesian food supplies

02 Feb 98 | World
Further violent food protests reported in Indonesia

30 Jan 98 | World
Indonesia: Why ethnic Chinese are afraid

In this section

Historic day for East Timor

Despatches Contents