Yogyakarta – Hundreds of students from various universities in Yogyakarta staged two separate rallies on Wednesday to protest the US-led attack on Afghanistan, burning an effigy of US President George W. Bush and "sealing" popular American fast-food restaurants.
One group of protesters, claiming to be members of Muhammadiyah Students Association (IMM) and the Association of Islamic Students (HMI), burned an effigy of US President George W. Bush, while rallying at the provincial legislative council. "Bush kills innocent people," shouted one protester. The police did not intervene and the demonstration ended peacefully at 2pm.
Another group of students marched from the campus of the Indonesian Islamic University toward Yogyakarta's business area through Jl. Sudirman, chanting and shouting "Allah Akbar [God is Great]." They carried banners that read, "Bring Bush to the International Court", "Islam can't tolerate US arrogance", "Freeze US assets in Indonesia" and "Boycott US products."
Upon reaching Tugu intersection, the students stopped in front of a Pizza Hut restaurant and held a street theater performance, depicting hungry Afghans. "When you eat here, you help finance the assault on Afghanistan," said one protester. "Let's boycott this capitalist product from now on."
After holding speeches, the protesters symbolically sealed the front door of Pizza Hut with dozens of posters. Some posters read, "This restaurant is sealed", "Eating here means killing the poor Afghans", "This restaurant will be liquidated", "Freeze and boycott US investments here." Dozens of Pizza Hut customers, nevertheless, seemed to be unperturbed by the demonstration and continued with their meal.
From Pizza Hut, the protesters headed south to Jl. Malioboro. where McDonalds restaurant is located. Some 10 protesters "sealed" McDonalds, again by pasting posters on McDonald's windows. Other protesters shouted," Boycott American products!" Again, their actions did not disturb McDonald's customers, including some veiled schoolgirls who were enjoying their meal. The protesters then dispersed peacefully at 1pm.
In Bandung, West Java, about 300 students staged protests at the provincial legislative building, burning US flags and pictures of President Bush. The police, who outnumbered the protesters, did not take any action although the government had urged security forces to stop the burning of flags and other symbols of other nations. The protest ended peacefully as around 400 policemen stood by.
In Pekanbaru, Riau hundreds of students from Riau University staged protests at the provincial legislative building and the governor's office, where the protesters were received by Governor Saleh Djasit. The students demanded that the US stop its military operation in Afghanistan or they would boycott US products.
In Surabaya, East Java, continuing anti-US protests have prompted 66 out of 166 expatriates working here to leave the city. Those leaving the city included Americans working at the US consulate office.
In Palu, Central Sulawesi, Americans working in the province had prepared all necessary documents to leave the province should the situation worsen. Palu Immigration Office spokesman Bambang Satrio said his office had processed all immigration documents for the 52 Americans. Nevertheless, he said none of the Americans working in the province had left, noting that no incident against foreigners was reported.
In Cirebon, West Java, Sultan Maulana Pakuningrat guaranteed the safety of foreigners in the port town. "I have coordinated with all related agencies, including security forces in Cirebon. There will be no actions that could jeopardize the security of foreigners here," he told The Jakarta Post.