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Wednesday, August 19, 1998 Published at 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK


Sci/Tech

Chinese protesters attack Indonesia through Net

The webmaster was told to keep the hacked page up for two days

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall
The Internet is fuelling a growing campaign against Indonesian treatment of its ethnic Chinese population.

Reports of looting, violence and rape committed against ethnic Chinese during riots in May were originally suppressed by the state media in China, with the authorities concerned it might affect ties with Indonesia and provoke demonstrations.

But pictures, allegedly showing the burnt bodies of women raped and killed in the riots, have been circulating on the World Wide Web and Internet reports on the violence have filtered through to the public.

Virtual and real-life protests

On Monday, students demonstrated outside the Indonesian embassy in Beijing while a group of Chinese women protested elsewhere displaying banners such as: "A debt of blood should be repaid in blood."

Indonesian websites have also come under attack from political hackers. The home page of a site at www.bkkbn.go.id has been replaced with a message saying "Warning from Chinese."

"This page is hacked for your national day. Please keep this page for 48 hours and punish the murderers in May immediately," says the hacker, including a list of links to sites about the violence. His "sg" sign-off suggests the attack was mounted from Singapore.

Officials say reports blown up

Some Indonesian government officials have questioned whether the rapes took place at all and the influential newspaper Republika said: "The issue was openly disseminated on the internet, along with an effort to slander Islam."

President B.J.Habibie, who set up a task force to investigate the violence, has said figures circulated on the Internet were exaggerated.

But Human Rights Watch, in an update last week, said 168 rape cases were recorded, "and several journalists have given eyewitness accounts of having seen Chinese women dragged off motorcycles and out of cars and stripped naked in front of crowds."

Indonesians targeted by the Net

Indonesia fell victim to political hacking on August 1 when around 45 websites were defaced by the "KaotiK Team", as part of a campaign calling for full autonomy for East Timor.

And its own netizens expressed concern in newsgroups when rumours of rioting by their countrymen working in Malaysia spread over the Internet.

Malaysian police detained a third person last Thursday, suspected of disseminating the rumours over the Net. Opposition and human rights groups have condemned the three being held under the tough Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial for two years.



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