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Indonesia Panel Links Military to R

Subject: Indonesia Panel Links Military to Role in Riots that Ousted 


               Indonesia Panel Links Military to
               Role in Riots that Ousted


               JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Security agents helped incite
deadly May riots
               that led to the ouster of Indonesian President Suharto, a
fact-finding panel said
               Tuesday in a report that indicated members of the military
contributed to
               Suharto's downfall. 

               The report by the government team also disputes military
claims that no mass
               sexual assaults were committed during the riots on May
13-15, concluding
               instead that 66 women, many of them ethnic Chinese, were

               The release of the harshly critical report is a further blow
to the credibility of the
               tarnished Indonesian military, which is caught between
widespread allegations of
               human rights abuses under Suharto and a new role as a
promoter of democratic

               It comes as the military prepares a huge security operation
to protect a
               government assembly that will cast guidelines next week for
general elections in
               1999. Student activists plan to protest, saying the
government is not moving fast
               enough on political reform. 

               After three months of investigation, a team set up by
Suharto's successor,
               President B.J. Habibie, said that some military officials
urged crowds in parts of
               Jakarta, the capital, to loot and burn in a wave of unrest
that left 1,200 people
               dead and prompted Suharto to end his 32-year authoritarian

               "The riots in Jakarta can be described as an effort to
topple the power
               unconstitutionally," said Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the
panel that includes
               human rights activists, senior police officers, lawyers,
bureaucrats and
               community leaders. 

               At a news conference, Darusman acknowledged that much of the
unrest was
               sparked by anger over price increases amid Indonesia's worst
economic crisis in

               He did not speculate on who was trying to topple the
government nor whether
               military involvement in the riots was approved by top
commanders. Without
               elaborating, he said infighting between political leaders
also helped provoke the

               Some government opponents have alleged military hard-liners
provoked the riots
               because they wanted an excuse to crack down on dissidents, a
charge that the
               military has vehemently denied. 

               The government-backed investigators said the military
bungled efforts to restore
               order in Jakarta, in many cases ignoring looters or taking
payoffs to guard
               terrified ethnic Chinese. 

               "The security officers in several places let the riots
happen," he said. 

               The Chinese minority, which dominates the economy, has been
a frequent target
               of attacks as Indonesia endures a period of prolonged
economic hardship. 

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