New student clashes in Jakarta

Jakarta: 8 Sep (South News) :Five students have been treated in a Jakarta hospital after being wounded in clashes with police at the gates of Indonesia's national parliament.

In the biggest demonstration since students occupied the parliament complex in May, Police used batons and tear gas to force hundreds of anti-government protesters onto the street. Five students were injured as they were pushed back. Some with bleeding legs and hands after tripping on the main entrance's steel gate that had fallen down.

The five were rushed by ambulance to a nearby university hospital. They were part of a combined student group demanding President BJ Habibie stand down because of his failure to deal with Indonesia's economic crisis which includes a spiralling of food prices.

In the parliament protest Monday, 4,000 students from the Forum Kota which unites as many as 40 universities, gathered outside the green-domed building to demand that Habibie quit because of his handling of Indonesia's economic meltdown.The Indonesian news agency Antara said that the Jabotabek Student Community were demanding that the government reduce the prices of staple food . The group also asked the government to set up an Indonesian People's Committee.

The students were locked in an hours-long battle of wills with the security forces composed of hundreds of police and armed soldiers around the entrance to the parliament. It was the most determined show of force by students in Jakarta since thousands from the same group staged a sit-in at parliament which helped pressure president Suharto to resign on May 21.

After dusk Monday, the students had managed to advance some 15 meters (about 160 feet) into the compound after pushing the long, low sliding steel gate which barred the entrance until it crashed to the ground.

"Reject Habibie and his government," said one poster amid the red and white national flags waved by the protestors. Another read "Immediately Form a People's Committee of Indonesia." They also urged that Suharto be put on trial for alleged corruption and repression during his 32-year rule, and that the government lower the price of rice and other basic commodities, which have soared over the past year.

Several large student banners also demanded "Lower the prices" with protestors also yelling for cuts in the prices of essential goods. One student, clad in a black robe with the words "Hungry, Hungry" in bright green letters, moved among protestors shouting: "The people are hungry."

"Babies need milk, not parties," another large poster said referring to the soaring price of infant formula and the number of political parties that have sprung up since Habibie came to power. The price of milk and other essentials including rice, have shot up to unheard of heights since the financial crisis hit the country last year, while wages have remained fixed and thousands are laid off every week

Also Monday, a former trade minister and longtime Suharto associate told prosecutors he would pay back misused central bank funds by Sept. 21. Last week, Mohamad "Bob" Hasan told government prosecutors that he used Bank Indonesia funds earmarked for a bank he owns to finance part of his paper cartel, PT Kiani Kertas. Authorities are investigating allegations of corruption by Suharto and his associates, which critics say contributed to Indonesia's economic turmoil.