Jakarta – Amid growing anti-American sentiment in some parts of the country, some 400 farmers from Bali's Pacung Baturiti village staged a rally in front of the provincial legislative council building on Thursday to protest any action against foreigners visiting Indonesia's world-renowned tourist island.
"The drop in the number of foreign tourists visiting Bali in the aftermath of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center coupled with a rumored witch-hunt against foreigners has inevitably had an impact on the income of local farmers, who also earn a lot from the tourist industry," rally coordinator I Wayan Sardjana was quoted by Antara as saying on Thursday. Thus, to revive the local tourism industry, people should not start hunting for foreigners either in Bali or other parts of the country, he said.
The protesting farmers, who were wearing traditional clothes, said they opposed all kinds of terrorist acts in all parts of the world as they would only hurt people. They also asked security authorities to take firm action against persons found launching witch-hunts for foreign tourists visiting Bali.
He said the local farmers were ready to act as the spearhead to help security authorities take action against those found launching a sweep for foreigners. He said all residents of Pacung village supported the statement made by the governor of Bali opposing a sweep of foreigners on the island and guaranteeing security on the island as one of the world's main tourist destinations.
Responding to the farmers' demands, Bali's provincial legislative assembly chairman Ida Bagus Putu Wesnawa said his side was ready to recommend that the security authorities take firm action against those launching any form of searches for foreigners. "Bali, whose population mostly relies on the tourism sector, does not want to see anything disrupting the safety and security of tourists," he said.
In Manado, capital of North Sulawesi province, the police have deployed personnel to areas where expatriates reside in the province. The chief of the Command and Operations Control Center of the North Sulawesi Police, Sr. Comr. Suharijono, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that they had actually been giving protection to expatriates living in the province even before the National Police issued an order to do so on October 7. "We took the initiative when we learned that the US had decided to act on Afghanistan," he said. "The first order from the National Police was to protect Americans, but now it has been extended to also giving protection to Australians, Britons, the Dutch, Belgians, the French, Swedes and Canadians," Suharijono said.
Foreigners mostly live or work at gold mining company PT Newmont Minahasa Raya in Ratatotok, PT Tarsius in Bitung, the Minahasa Masehi Injili Church Foundation in Tomohon and Klabat University in Airmadidi. "For Newmont alone, we have assigned two Mobile Brigade platoons," he added. He did not remember the number of expats living in the province, but said there were 25 Americans working there.
In Malang police said they remained alert in anticipation of all possibilities that could endanger the safety of expatriates, particularly Americans, following the spread of anti-US protests. Malang Police chief Sr. Comr. Supardi said on Thursday that the police had been collecting data on foreigners who lived in Malang, Pasuruan, Probolinggo and Lumajang regencies – all of which came under the jurisdiction of the Malang Police.
Supardi urged all companies in those regencies that employed foreigners to report regularly to the police for security reasons. He disclosed that a total of 497 expatriates were working in Malang and other regencies under the Malang Police's jurisdiction between Aug. 10 and Sept. 30, 2001. They came from the US, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, China and Malaysia.
In the West Java town of Cirebon, more than 200 people from 13 community and student organizations took to the streets to condemn the U.S-led attacks on Afghanistan. They were tightly guarded by the police. Grouped under the Anti-American Community Movement (Gamas), the protesters also demanded a boycott of American products and denounced President Megawati Soekarnoputri for her "unclear" stance on the Afghan attacks. They urged the government to cut diplomatic ties with the super power.
Rally coordinator M. Galib Subhan said in a written statement that they were for the sending of what they called jihad volunteers to Afghanistan as a show of their solidarity with the plight of the Afghans. "The attacks on Afghanistan constitute a war against Muslims. The US, which claims to be the world's policeman, continues to display its arrogance. This must be stopped," he said. On Megawati, they said that the President had only expressed concern over the attacks "without any concrete action to stop the US-led attacks."