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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.

Bobby, Indonesia
I am a British citizen my wife is Chinese and we have two children. I have lived here for almost 10 years. I witnessed what I would say one of the worst events of my life. I live in the north of Jakarta. The rioters were on the main roads in front of where I live and to the left and right, an area of only a few hundred yards. Terrifying. I witnessed two smiling policemen on a motor bike carrying, what was obviously a looted TV. That is how mad this country is. This morning we had nine army personnel carriers, with about 50 soldiers parked outside our house, having lunch. This is not why I came and have made my home in this beautiful country to see.

Lucelly, East Java
I'm a really Javanese, live in east of Java. I'm a totally jobless for 6 years. Sometime I feel so despair but i always try not too emotional facing this life. I know indonesian youth can do the same thing i've done. Brutality should not be tolerated by anyone

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
I am a Trisakti University student who was at the location when the so called law enforcement shot and killed my fellow colleagues. The act of those law enforcers can not be an act of human but rather an act of lower than animal. They even shot our girl students under white flag who tried to get home !

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
We've been thru hell these few days ... in the second day of the riot , the looters and robbers came within 1 km from my house and everyone was so scared ! ....

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 am a Chinese-Indonesian and you know that in the last 3 days, we are living in a war situation. We must build a barricade and go out with weapon (stick, umbrella, everything that can defend ourselves). I don't know why the security forces (ABRI) move so slow.

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
We were in Indonesia during the riots. The riots are well coordinated, occuring simultaneously in different cities. Whoever is responsible for organizing these protests should be held accountable for the deaths and destruction. By targetting the Chinese community, these morons are driving away the ingredients needed to turn around the economy.

Frightened ethnic Chinese
The looters have burned Chinese homes even with people inside them. The Chinese scramble to find places to hide. They can not leave the country because the crowds block the roads to the airport. The Chinese are innocent citizens that have become scapegoats of anything problems in Indonesia. I am begging for the United States or the United Nations to send peace troops to calm down the situation.

American citizen who lives in Batam Island next to Singapore explains how the crisis is being viewed there
Batam is mainly an newly developed industrial area that also has a high number of chinese. Flights from other parts of the country (especially from Jakarta and Medan) are full with new arrivals trying to seek some refuge from other parts of the country.

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.

Deddy Gandawijaya
I am Chinese Indonesian. I had gone thru such a terrible experience of my life for past three days. What do you call for human rights by UN,USA, IMF and other politics around the world. You all never even raised voice at all with all events happening. I am sick of you all when trying to play GOD by seeming to give a hand to help Indonesia but in actual sqeezing and tying Indonesian government's hand/body to death.

John S. Beaumont Canadian citizen, resident of Jakarta
It is currently 8:01 am on Monday, May 18, 1998. I'm at my office here in the Central Business District of Jakarta and, so far, it's shaping up to be just another day at work.

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.



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