Jakarta – A number of ormas (social or mass organisations) arrived at the People's Democratic Party (PRD) offices in the Bratang Gede area of the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on Monday July 22. Tension in and around the location were apparently unavoidable.
The groups included the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Islamic Defenders Militia (LPI), the Association of Sons and Daughters of Army Families (Hipakad) and the Community Forum for Sons and Daughters of the Armed Forces (FKPPI).
The incident began when around 40 or so PRD members held a thanksgiving event (syukuran) to celebrate the PRD's 23rd anniversary (HUT) at the party's two-story secretariat on Monday evening.
The event was held in place of a discussion at a restraint in the Gubernur Suryo area of Surabaya which had earlier been canceled due to pressure from the same groups.
"Initially we gathered because there was a syukuran HUT PRD, the syukuran only involved a tumpengan [a ceremonial dish of yellow rice served in cone shape]. But during the greetings and opening the police arrived and said that the event should be sped up", East Java PRD Director Hermawan told CNN Indonesia on Monday.
After receiving the information, they took down all of the paraphernalia such as banners and PRD flags and were then evacuated by the police and left the location. "We just gave in, we didn't want there to be a commotion", said Hermawan.
A short time later a number of ormas members arrived at the location crowding onto the road and creating a traffic jam in and around Bratang Gede.
The groups could be seen mediating with the local neighborhood association head (RT) and the police who were on guard. After several minutes the FPI member held an action at the intersection of the road and set fire to a PRD flag. As a result the traffic jam became even worse.
"The PRD party has already been banned, the public must know this, yes", said LPI Surabaya spokesperson Agus Fachrudin.
Then, one of the ormas members managed to take down the remaining banners that were still installed on the front of the PRD secretariat. Another FPI member, Agung, then began shouting and screaming that the PRD is a banned party in Indonesia.
"I call on local people to watch over this place. If there are indications of a meeting then report it immediately to the police or polsek [sectoral police, police intelligence]. This is new style communism. The government disbanded them a long time ago", said Agung as he held up a banner promoting the state ideology of Pancasila.
Local resident Yanto (46) meanwhile said that the PRD had had its headquarters in the area for some two years. As far as he knew, the house had been contracted by the PRD for another two years.
Yanto admitted that over the last two years there had never been any suspicious activities by the occupants of the house.
"They've been there for a year or more, they want two [more] years, so far there hasn't been anything illicit. If there's been any direct investigation no one was arrested. So far there really hasn't been anything odd. It's the FPI who are arrogant and suddenly besieged the place", said Yanto. (frd/asa)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "FPI dan LPI 'Geruduk' Acara Ulang Tahun PRD di Surabaya".]