Student demonstrations turned increasingly violent Saturday, and police made clear their patience is running out. CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen reports from Indonesia that beatings at the hands of the authorities have made the students ever more determined.
"We've got something to fight for," said one student. I don't know why they hit me and my brother."
Just as determined to quash the demonstrations is the man whose iron fist has ruled Indonesia for more than three decades. Security forces, President Suharto said on Saturday, will act if anyone threatens national security. He then flew to Egypt for a summit. Petersen reports that leaving the country now is clearly a sign that Shuharto is confident he will not lose the reins of power.
Is it not just the students the government is worried about, it is also Indonesia's general population. They are bearing the brunt of the price hikes, and watching their lives disintegrate in an economy where the inflation rate may soon hit a staggering 50 percent.
This past week fuel prices jumped 70 percent as Indonesia, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, began phasing out subsidies. But fixing the economy is sending angry people into the streets, says the man who once ran Indonesia's military.
According to General Tni Rudini, this is a dangerous moment in history for Indonesia. "People will move and take extreme steps if their stomachs are hungry," he warns.
Other people are now joining the student protests, Petersen reports, and that could mean that the country and it's president are headed for a showdown soon.
Written by CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen