Thursday, May 21, 1998 Published at 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Eyewitness reports of riots and looting
News online has received e-mails from many parts of Indonesia detailing individual perspectives on recent events.
Lucelly, East Java
Just look the sad mother crying the dead body of her son. Isn't it an illustration that what have been happened only caused worst tragedy among us? I have an advise to others that live in lavish lifestyles, just don't act in a way that only causes jealousy to the poor.
Student, Christianto PB Silitonga
Now their death become meaningless for the Indonesian people destroy themselves. The goverment, although not directly, is accusing that student protest starts all the riots in Indonesia. If only people knew that we, the student, are fighting for all Indonesian, natives or not, for we know that the greatness of this country lies in her people.
I, my self encourage all Indonesian in the world to give support to our struggles. We are not going to stop to fight, until the number one trouble maker, the President (or King ?) is stepping down.
I also encourage that all Indonesian student outside the country, to wear black ribbon at upper left arm as a symbol or national mourning of the death of our student heroes.
From ethnic Chinese, Medan
You see the scale of the riot was so big that the authorities just couldn't cope with it, for the first few days. And on top of that , having to adhere to the 'principles' of Human Rights, they couldn't do any harm to the rioters which were in fact out not to demonstrate with the students but to rob and loot - they could only fire warning shots in the air ...so the rioters went on their rampage as if no police and army were present , by first breaking down locked doors of shophouses and then started looting and in some bad cases after looting they set fire to us poor Chinese's houses !
In almost all areas , the youths of 12 - 14 year olds would started to stone and then forced open doors with crowbars and what-nots and when they succeeded , women(grandmothers too)and children as young as 5-6 years old will come for the spoil(these are confirmed , I don't make them up for dramatisation).
As a result of these enormous pressures on us who have been abandoned by our own protectors we paid tax to , we were forced to form groups of vigilantes patroling our own neighbourhood and in some cases there were clashes resulting in bloody casualties on both sides. As a result we Medan Chinese had prevented worse violence on us but we have to give credits to the reinforcements of special army units from Jawa who were really professional.
Andi Y from Jakarta
I maybe too selfish but I am supporting the act of ABRI to 'shoot immediatelly' on the looters and rioters. Why?? Maybe it go against human rights but I think they are become a robber and they are disturbing another people right and they deserves to be shot down!! that had befallen us here !!! Thanks and regards.
James Reyes Philippines
Frightened ethnic Chinese
American citizen who lives in Batam Island next to Singapore explains how the crisis is being viewed there
So we are becoming somewhat of a "safe haven" in this time of turmoil.
Business transactions have almost come to a standstill. With Bank Indonesia closed since yesterday businesses do not official rates for the Rupiah. This means that many shops and businesses do not know at what rate to sell their products as many have adopted flexible pricing policies during the recent months with prices going up and down with the sudden moves of the Rupiah.
Local opinion does seem to indicate that Suharto may not be able to pull off a graceful exit, it could be too late for that. While the student movement does not have the focus of the "people power" event in the Philippines (which I also witnessed) and does not yet have a leader to rally around, they seem to be increasingly willing to risk all for just the sake of reform.
John S. Beaumont
Canadian citizen, resident of Jakarta
I'd like to congratulate the BBC on its reporting of the recent events here in Indonesia. The BBC seems to have avoided indulging in the uninformed speculation that so much of the international media has been seeking to pass off as fact. It never fails to amaze me how some plush-bottomed yahoo who would be hard pressed to locate Indonesia on a map of the world can be parachuted into the country, placed before a camera and passed off as an individual with all of the facts at his disposal. This practice is particularly galling when the local inhabitants themselves have little idea what is going on.