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President Mega Lays Down the Law

President Megawati Returns from Her U.S. Trip to Announce a Firmer Hand in Dealing with Protests.


Following recent threats of sweeping actions against Americans in Central Java and Jakarta by militants opposed to any U.S. military attacks on Afghanistan, Indonesia's President Megawati Soekarnoputri has returned from an extended trip to the U.S.A. and Japan to lead a stricter stand against political and religious demonstrations, primarily in Java and Jakarta.

In a marathon Cabinet Meeting lasting 5.5 hours on Thursday, 4 October, the Government announced the following steps:

1. The Government is prohibiting any sweeping actions against foreigners in Indonesia, promising stiff penalties for anyone taking part in such activities.

2. In response to reports of young men registering for "jihad" service in Afghanistan, the Government announced that it does not condone nor will it tolerate the physical involvement of any of its citizens in alien armies, foreign conflicts or wars.

3. The Government of Indonesia has declared that it will continue to cooperate with the international community in combating terrorism.

4. Indonesia is urging the United Nations to take the lead in collective international acts against terrorism, inisting that further such steps be precise, calculated and effective.

5. The Government of Indonesia asks that actions in response to the terrorist acts in New York and Washington, D.C. of September 11 be undertaken in a proportional and targeted manner, governed by the boundaries of decency and avoiding unnecessary further tragedy.

6. Indonesia directs that all parties, including the United Nations, take constructive steps to avoid the outbreak of open war, bearing in mind the implications of such a war on the security and peace of the world, and the need to prevent innocents from suffering.

7. The Government will continue to allow public protests that are carried out in a peaceful, safe and orderly fashion.

8. The Government, however, will prevent public protests from taking place that transcend decency, such as the pronouncement of threats in any form, the burning of national or foreign flags, the burning of the effigies of foreign leaders, or the national symbols of friendly nations.

9. The Government has pledged to take legal action against demonstrators who violate the law, destroy property, attack public authorities or invoke any other acts of violence.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting, the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security, Mr. Bambang Yudhoyono elaborated on the outlawing of sweeping actions by explaining that recent events in Solo, Central Java did not strictly qualify as sweeping actions inasmuch as no foreigners were physically detained or actually inspected by the perpetrators. Nonetheless, according to the retired General, such acts as occurred in Solo have the potential of leading to actual sweeping, and, as a result, will be prohibited in the future.

On September 23, groups of fundamentalist demonstrators marched on local hotels and the airport in Solo, Central Java, searching for U.S. citizens to demand that they leave the country should the U.S. attack Afghanistan. Despite their efforts, no U.S. citizens were encountered. Subsequently, several Islamic leaders in Jakarta have made public statements threatening U.S. interests if a military attack materialized against Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in Bali, sweeping threats have been widely rejected by all segment of society. See the link below for details of how Bali views such activities.

More information: The Balinese are Not Amused

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