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Protesters in Jakarta says militarism is resurfacing 18 years after reformasi

Tempo.co - May 21, 2016

Arkhelaus W., Jakarta – Around 500 protesters from the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI) and members of the Social Movement for Democracy (Gema Demokrasi) have begun enlivening the National Monument area in the vicinity of the Arjuna Wijaya statue in front of the Indosat building on Jl. Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta.

Gema Demokrasi spokesperson Nining Elitos explained that the action was held because of attempts to revive militarism within the government. "Democracy and the people's movement are being repressed, gagged. This repression is being used to shift the issues away from the problems of welfare that have yet to be resolved", said Nining during the action on Saturday May 21.

Nining believes that there currently efforts to return to repressing the people's movements including those criticising government policy. She gave the example of workers' right to association being quashed, the forced eviction of poor communities and the return to censoring [leftist] books.

The repression by the government, she said, reflect a government that has failed to undertake programs to bring prosperity to its people. "These [leftist] books are for knowledge and to understand the problems. But in censoring them, this is a form of stupidity", she said.

The protesters gathered at 11.15am and began moving off along the edge of Jl. Merdeka Barat at around 12.05pm. During the march which ended at the State Palace, they stopped at different locations such as the Department of Defence and the Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs where they gave speeches.

The protesters from Gema Demokrasi were commemorating 18 years of reformasi. The action was aimed at evaluating the six demands of the student movement that were read out at the end of the New Order dictatorship that was marked by the resignation of former President Suharto in 1998.

Gema Demokrasi is made up of a number of different organisations including the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Journalists Union for Diversity (SEJUK), the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (Elsam), the Reform Committee, the 1965 International People Tribunal (IPT'65), the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) and Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial).

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was Aksi 18 Tahun Reformasi, Aktivis: Militerisme Bangkit Lagi.]

Source: https://m.tempo.co/read/news/2016/05/21/083772908/aksi-18-tahun-reformasi-aktivis-militerisme-bangkit-lagi.

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