THE RIOTS : Causes

ECONOMIC woes were at the heart of the Pamanukan riots, the Indonesian military said.

The town’s police commander, Colonel Rahmat, told The Straits Times:

“They were looking for a way out of their economic problems, and it was coincidental that this got caught up with their attack on the Chinese.”

He said that 1,000 people were involved in the rampage, of whom 258 were caught. Most of them were charged with destruction of property.

“A lot of them are from the lower-income group with no education,” he said.

“The current crisis only encouraged them to steal from the rich who are mostly Chinese.”

Subang district military chief, Colonel Oding Mulyadi, acknowledged that there was pribumi resentment towards the Chinese in Pamanukan, but noted that it was not serious enough for it to have led to the seven-hour mob violence.

“This is the work of external elements,” he said, though he stopped short of identifying them.

Besides Pamanukan, riots also broke out in Cirebon, Tegal, Majalangka and Berbes – all in West Java and on the same day.

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