Jakarta Riot, 12 Years Ago

Has it really been this long? 12 years since the bloody and deadly riot in Jakarta, one of the worst in history of this country. It was during May 14-15 when the riot became more wide spread and turned violent. So violent I could never see some of the photographs that were circulating on the internet some years ago.

What started as an outcry from the public from economic recession, national currency collapsed and prices of basic goods went sky rocketing. Students took to the street and voiced their protests to the then president, Soeharto. Two major universities lead the protest and the president ordered military to took over and four students were shot dead on May 12. It was after the funeral that the riots became violent. Mobs of people took to the street and starts burning cars, houses, targeting the Indonesian – Chinese. It was the time where large numbers of Indonesian – Chinese people made an emergency exodus.

At the time I was living in an all girls boarding house. The location wasn’t really that far from Jakarta’s downtown main streets where the riots and mob were burning and trashing buildings.  After the call of prayer, a local mosque made an announcement asking the males to stay alert and be on the look out and for females to stays indoor.

The boarding house was a three stories building, obviously everyone around that areas knows it’s an all girls place. Some people on the second floors fled, these are the employees type of residents, they have money so they checked themselves to hotels, some went back to their parents house. Third floor were mostly occupied by students, like myself. We can’t go anywhere!

Cramped in one of my ‘housemate’ room, we all monitored the situation through a small radio. The mob was moving closer down to our area, burning stuffs right in front of a small police station nearby. Oh the horror…at the time we didn’t know about the killing and raping these mobs were doing. It wasn’t until the next day till we found out.

We stayed up all night, all lights were out as if the building was empty. None of us sleep that night.

More than 1,000 people were killed and more than 60 women and girls, mostly Indonesian – Chinese, were victims of gang rapes and other sexual violence during those days of bloodshed, arson and turmoil.

Sadly, 12 years later, 4 presidents later, this case is still unsolved. The master mind behind this cruel and violent acts are probably still roam around in and out of this country freely. Lest we forget!



  1. May 13, 2010 / 3:44 am

    Oh my goodness, I’m glad you and your school friends were okay. What a terrible event to live through, even the pictures are disturbing, but thank you for sharing your story. It’s important to know about events like this–and about the people they affect–so that maybe, one day, we can stop repeating them.
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Five Favorite Italian Words: In which, I accidentally ask for pussy =-.

    • May 13, 2010 / 9:01 am

      Hi Emily, thank you for your kind comment. I do hope that the violent will stop. It’s sad to see the poor being used by some people with their own agenda that ended up in such brutality.

  2. May 15, 2010 / 3:10 am

    We always disussed the topic of military violence in my Latin American Studies classes (I have a BA in this subject) and it was always so distressing to hear the stories & see the photos. My teachers always stressed that it was important to remember why it happened & that it happened so that the people who were injured or killed never lost their voices…..Thank you for sharing this! I’m going to do some googling & read more about this!

    • May 15, 2010 / 10:59 am

      Hi Kate, that’s true that it is important not to let their voices got buried in time. These students were really the revolution heroes back then.

      Sadly, these days students here are using this history to get involved in every single government issues and it tends to end up in violence act from their part, which is something I regret. They see something they don’t like, they’ll immediately rally up in the streets causing massive traffic jam and sometimes it ended up them destroying public properties. Often times they took the matter into their own hands, which in my opinion is wrong. Yes, no government is perfect 100% but they should find a better outlet to voice their objections rather than destroying things around. The first students movements that brought Soeharto down did not use these, they were educated people and non-violence it was the police/millitary sent down to ‘handled’ them that causing the riots.

  3. May 15, 2010 / 11:54 pm

    I can’t imagine what that was like. Sounds very scary. I’m glad that you were okay.

    On a separate note, your blog layout is very slick! Very cool. Are you on wordpress?

    • May 16, 2010 / 12:10 am

      Thanks for the visit Doc! I am loving your site, should visit it daily now! 😉

      Yes, it was a scary time. There were actually 2 bloody riots that year but the second one in November I was back home with my parents in another island so I’m okay.

      Thank you for the kind comment about the layout, it makes me doubting my previous thoughts about using a new theme hahaha, yes I’m on wordpress 🙂

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