Jakarta – Students in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and Surabaya, East Java, defied a government ban and burned US flags in separate anti-US rallies on Tuesday.
In Makassar, hundreds of students from various groups rallied at different locations, including at the provincial legislative assembly compound, the Japanese consulate and even the city's largest shopping mall.
Some of the protesters were seen burning US and British flags in a protest against the US and British attacks on Afghanistan. "We only want to show our solidarity for the fate of Afghans. Violence versus violence will only victimize civilians," said Iswari Al Farisy from the National Mandate Party Youth Front.
At the Japanese consulate, the protesting students, claiming to be from the Indonesian Muslim University, forced consular officials to haul down the Japanese rising sun flag from the staff. The students initially demanded that Japan withdraw its support for the attacks on Afghanistan.
Through a loudspeaker, a Japanese consular official announced that the consulate would convey their message to the Japanese government. The students, however, were not satisfied and demanded that the consulate haul down the rising sun. Their demand was met after the students broke the glass cover of the consulate's name board.
Other groups of protesters marched toward Makassar's largest shopping mall, Ratu Indah Mall, where hundreds of them listened to speeches in front of a McDonalds outlet calling on visitors and passersby to boycott US products. The protesters then covered the McDonalds sign with a black cloth. They did the same thing to a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken sign.
In Surabaya, hundreds of students picketed the US consulate, where they burned US and British flags, as well as an effigy of US President George W. Bush. The police took no action even though the government had expressly banned the burning of the flags or symbols of other nations, or effigies of their heads of state.
Different groups of protesters rallied at the consulate, which remained closed on Tuesday. The protests, nevertheless, ended peacefully.
In Yogyakarta, some 300 protesters from various student organizations continued with their anti-US protests on Tuesday. The protesters, from the Indonesian Muslim Students' Action Front (KAMMI), the Justice Party's Youth Front, Anti-America and Zionist Movement (GAZAK), and the Al-Qairat group, rallied at the provincial legislative assembly compound.
They shouted "Allahu Akbar" [God is Great] and other slogans, carried banners reading "Afghanistan under attack, jihad will ensue!" "Muslims are not terrorists", "Bush is the real terrorist", and "God damn the USA." A protester from GAZAK, Sidik Ahmadi, said his group was ready to travel to Afghanistan to help Afghans fight against the US and its allies. The protesters dispersed peacefully about 2.30 p.m.
In Medan, North Sumatra, students protests colored the city on Tuesday. The students, tightly guarded by the police, marched to the local office of TVRI state television where they delivered speeches for about 45 minutes. From there, the student protesters marched to the provincial administration offices, but they failed to meet the governor. They then dispersed peacefully.