Thursday, May 18, 2006
Time to go back home for some evacuees
Soeharto was ousted after 32 years in power in 1998 amid student protests and nationwide riots. In 2000, he was indicted on allegations of embezzling US$600 million, but has never been tried because his lawyers say he is too ill after suffering a series of strokes.
Thursday's protest in front of the State Palace was one of several anti-Soeharto gatherings since Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh announced nearly a week ago that charges against Soeharto were being dropped.
Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng received 20 representatives of the protesters and promised that he would convey the demand of the protesters to President Susilo Bambang Yuwhoyono.
At the same time dozens of human rights activists, students and family members of victims of the former regime rallied outside the House of Representatives, waving banners that said: "No mercy for Soeharto," and "Soeharto must be dragged to court."
Among the protesters was former journalist Syamsu Bachri, 72, who said he was held for 14.5 years as a political prisoner in the infamous Buru Island jail.
He called Soeharto's years in power "a massacre" that left hundreds of thousands dead, including civilians and military personnel.
Meanwhile, Soeharto, 84, had a CT scan Thursday after being operated on to halt intestinal bleeding - the forth time in two years he received treatment for that problem.
His doctors said the scan revealed two new blockages in the brain, but did not say anything about his general condition or when the blockages occurred.
Pertamina Hospital Director Adji Suprajitno said they decided to perform additional tests because he remains drowsy nearly two weeks after surgery. He is receiving medication and was said to have difficulty swallowing.