May 15, 1998 – Jakarta Is Burning – The G-8 Gets Started – Women’s Clinics Are Shut
My 15, 1998 – A day of protest, violence and shock. Starting with news that riots in Jakarta, Indonesia had claimed hundreds of lives and that there was little in the way of relief in sight caused alarm with the U.S. Embassy in that country. Word was being given that all Americans were to get out of the country quickly. After four days of rioting, panic was setting in, as waves of arson and looting. At least 165 were dead overnight, most of them looters as fire broke out in a shopping mall, trapping as many as 100 inside. The fire was one of many set by rioters and which continued to burn throughout Jakarta when daylight came. President Suharto, just returning from a meeting in Cairo, directed all military and civilian personnel to crack down on the rioters by taking strict action.
The violence taking place in Jakarta and other cities was just one of the subjects taking front-and-center-stage during the G-8 summit in Birmingham England. Initially, the summit was being held to tackle the issues of International Crime, Asia’s financial problems and African debit relief. But those talks were hijacked by a series of political crises, including the drama unfolding in Indonesia on the eve of the summit. The summit shifted to issues of the Indonesian riots, India’s nuclear tests and the upcoming U.S.brokered peace-settlement in Northern Ireland.
For the second day in a row, Women’s clinics in Wisconsin were shut and did not perform abortions on this day. Clinic administrators and doctors were waiting to see if a Chicago appeals court would step in and block the state’s new ban on some late-term abortions. The new law, which said Doctors performing partial-birth abortions would be subjected to a mandatory life-sentence prison term. But the wording of the law was so vague that the implication appeared to extend to all abortions and that’s why all clinics were closed.
And that’s just a small slice of the news that happened, this day 20 years ago, as reported by NPR.