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Gebrak rally against fuel prices warns government to 'beware the ordinary people'

CNN Indonesia - September 13, 2022

Jakarta – Protesters from the Labour Alliance with the People (Gebrak) held a demonstration against the recent fuel (BBM) price hike near the State Palace, namely at the Arjuna Wiwaha or Horse Statue Monument on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta on Tuesday September 13.

They held the action at the Horse Statue because they were blocked by police using a layered barricade so they were unable to break through to demonstrate in front of the State Palace which is located on Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara.

During the action today the workers articulated a number of demands including rejecting the fuel price hike and the high cost of basic necessities. In addition to this, they also demanded that the Omnibus Law on Job Creation be revoked and rejected the draft Criminal Code (RKUHP) which they say is still problematic.

"Our call is, first cancel the fuel price hike. Bring down prices because the ordinary people are finding things increasingly difficult, their incomes are minimal and many have even lost their jobs, lost their economic sources both in the villages as well as the cities", said Gebrak spokesperson Nining Elitos at the location of the demonstration.

"Then revoke the Omnibus Law on Job Creation, including also cancel the revisions to the RKUHP", she continued.

Elitos said that they are articulating these demands because the government's policies do not side with the ordinary people. She also said that today's action is a warning for the government. Not stopping there, Elitos added that workers are ready to hold a strike as a form of protest against those in power.

"These policies don't side with the ordinary people. Don't let the people become really angry. Today is a warning to those in power", said Elitos. "Yes, we are preparing to go on strike because this is indeed our warning to those in power. Stop issuing policies [which harm the people]", added Elitos.

Elitos claimed meanwhile that the number of Gebrak alliance protesters who will came to today's demonstration will be as many as 10,000. She explained that the protesters came from labour, university and high-school student groups from various parts of the country.

Currently we are still waiting on university and high-school students who are still on their way to the demonstration.

"Later there will be around 10,000 protesters who will take to the streets, workers as well as university and high-school will join in", she said.

"It will be all the students, many haven't arrived yet, because we are waiting on other groups, all of the groups will (demonstrate) together", continued Elitos.

Beware of the people

Following the rally at the Horse Statue, which continued into the evening despite pleas from the police for protesters to leave the area, Gebrak held a press conference warning that it will continue protesting until its demands are met.

"We will not stop with this evening's action, but we will continue to consolidate resistance in various different cities and regions", said Elitos during a press conference on Tuesday.

"Our declaration to the regime today is, beware of the ordinary people. If the ordinary people get angry don't blame the people, but blame those in power who never listen to what the people's aspirations are", she continued.

Veteran National Development University (UPN) Jakarta Student Executive Council (BEM) Chairperson Bilal Sukarno meanwhile said they would demonstrate again on September 27 with even more protesters then today.

He added that university students, workers, high-school students and farmers would hold a consolidation on September 15 to prepare for the next demonstration.

"We give this ultimatum to the government of Joko Widodo, (we) will take to the streets in larger numbers on September 27, 2022. And we invite all the people's movements, students, workers, farmers, high-school students, to attend the consolidation on September 15, 2022", he said.

Unpopular decision

Earlier at 1.30 pm on Saturday September 3, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced an increase in the price of Pertalite, Solar (diesel) and Pertamax fuel.

The price of Pertalite, which used to cost 7,650 rupiah per litre rose to 10,000 rupiah per litre, Solar rose from 5,150 rupiah to 6,800 rupiah per litre and Pertamax rose from 12,500 rupiah to 14,500 rupiah per litre.

The government's decision to increase fuel prices has received a negative response from the pubic with demonstrations breaking out in several Indonesian cities against the decision.

Protest actions have been observed in Banda Aceh (Aceh province), Medan (North Sumatra), Palembang (South Sumatra), Bandung (West Java), Semarang (East Java), Yogyakarta (Central Java), Mataram (West Nusa Tenggara), Samarinda (East Kalimantan), Makassar (South Sulawesi) and Gorontalo province. (frl/kid)

[Abridged translation by James Balowski based on two articles by CNN Indonesia on September 13. The original title of the Lead article was "Demo BBM di Dekat Istana, Massa Buruh Juga Desak UU Ciptaker Dicabut".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20220913135412-20-847174/demo-bbm-di-dekat-istana-massa-buruh-juga-desak-uu-ciptaker-dicabu