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Thousands commemorate 10 years of reformasi

Kompas - May 22, 2008

Jakarta – Waves of protesters commemorating 10 years of reformasi took to the streets on Wednesday May 21. At least 6,000 people from a number of mass and student organisations gathered at the State Palace and the House of Representatives (DPR) between 11am and 6pm. The protesters presented seven people's demands to the government.

The flow of protesters heading towards the State Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta began at 11am when around 1,000 members of the Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) arrived in a convoy of motorbikes encircling the National Monument and the Medan Merdeka area.

Next, a wave of students arrived under the flag of the All Indonesia Student Executive Alliance (Aliansi BEM Se-Indonesia) numbering as many a 1,000 people along with the National Liberation Front (FPN), City Forum (Forkot), the Student Action Front for Reform and Democracy (Famred) 98, the Volunteers for Democratic Struggle (Repdem) and a number of other groups. Numbering around 6,000 people they fill two lanes along the length of Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat. It was during this action that Aliansi BEM presented the people's seven demands.

Large numbers of security personnel meanwhile were placed on a state of alert. "The Metro Jaya regional police have deployed 1,200 personnel", said Metro Jaya Operational Bureau Chief Senior Commissioner Budi Winarso.

A brocade of police wearing anti-riot gear blockaded the roads in front of the State Palace and the DPR building. Hundreds of traffic police were also on alert at intersections on the approach to the two protest locations.

Traffic jams occurred in the areas of Jl. Salemba, Gambir, Harmoni through to Gajah Mada and Hayam Wuruk, Abdul Muis, Kebun Sirih and Sudirman-Thamrin. Traffic was also brought to a standstill when the two groups switched between the State Palace and the DPR.

The flow of traffic was also disrupted because one of the lanes on Jl. Gatot Subroto in South Jakarta was occupied by students. The action, which started at 9.30am, only broke up at 5.10pm, blocking traffic for some eight hours. (CAL/WIN/NEL)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]