Posted by: mel | September 28, 2009

Indonesian riots of May 1998

Wikipedia | accessed 28 September 2009

The May 1998 riots in Indonesia were a principal factor in the Fall of Suharto. They occurred in several parts of Indonesia, including Medan andSurakarta, but most notably in the capital and largest city, Jakarta. The riots were triggered by economic problems like food shortages and massunemployment in Indonesia.

The Indonesian currency Rupiah had collapsed and prices of basic goods skyrocketed. Students took to the streets in Jakarta and protested against then President Suharto. The rioting started after four students from Trisakti University were shot dead during a demonstration on 12 May 1998. After the funeral the following day, rioting started outside the university, with police and military offices and cars as the major targets.[1]

The riots became more widespread on 14-15 May 1998 and quickly turned into a pogrom targeting properties and businesses owned by ethnic-Chinese (Chinese Indonesian), who were made into scapegoats. Many shops put up signs such as “Milik pribumi” (“Owned by native Indonesian(s)”) or “Pro Reformasi” (“Pro-reformation”). Otherwise, shops owned by ethnic Chinese were looted and burned. There were also dozens of documented accounts of ethnic Chinese women being raped.[2] The US State Department noted in its report:

Following the riots, allegations of mass rape of ethnic Chinese women were made, forcing the Government to establish a fact-finding team to investigate the riots and rapes. The team found that elements of the military had been involved in the riots, some of which were deliberately provoked. It also verified 66 rapes of women, the majority of whom were Sino-Indonesian, as well as numerous other acts of violence against women.[3]

In this climate of fear, many ethnic Chinese, who made up about 3-5% of Indonesia’s population, fled the country.

In the aftermath, a fact finding team from the Asian Legal Resource Centre stated that the military had played a role in the violence.[4]

Over 1,500 people killed including over 160 raped in the riots.[5]

  1. ^ Operation Bevel Incline
  2. ^ Ethnic Chinese tell of mass rapes” (in English). CNN. June 23, 1998. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  3. ^ 1998 Human Rights Report – Indonesia
  4. ^ INDONESIA: Five years after May 1998 rights, those responsible for the atrocities remain at large
  5. ^ The May 1998 Riot in Jakarta, Indonesia, Analyzed with GIS“. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
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