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Chaos after military and police block May Day protesters in Bogor

Merdeka.com - May 1, 2013

An International Labour Day (May Day) demonstration in Bogor, West Java, descended into chaos when police and military tried to prevent hundreds of workers from the National Trade Union (SPN) from travelling to Jakarta.

Upon arriving at the Keranggan toll road gate the workers were blocked by a joint contingent of Indonesian military (TNI) and police who asked the workers not to continue on to Jakarta.

The workers, who insisted that they wanted to join up with their colleagues in Jakarta, tried to break through the blockade. It was then that chaos broke out. West Java SPN provincial chairperson Iwan Kusmawan said they did not accept the actions by security personnel in preventing them travelling on to Jakarta.

"Security personnel should allow the workers to pass because freedom of expression and speech is protected under the law, all the more so because we will pay the toll road fee and follow prevailing regulations", he said.

After negotiations with security personnel, the workers were finally given permission proceed, although they were only allowed to pass through the Citeureup toll gate and depart in stages. "20 busses will depart every 20 minutes", he said.

Meanwhile, Bogor district police chief Assistant Superintendent Asep Syafrudin said that in order to secure May Day this year, they had deployed around 700 officers.

Syafrudin explained that police are working with the TNI, the West Java Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and Bogor regency public order agency officials to prevent frictions.

He added that police would take action against factory sweeps by workers [to pursuade other workers to join the action] because it goes against legal norms. "If there are factory weeping actions we will act firmly", he said.

[Dihadang petugas, buruh ricuh di Bogor Ė Merdeka.com. May 1, 2013.Abridged translation by James Balowski.]

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