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Roundup of fuel price demonstrations from Detik.com

Detik.com - March 15-18, 2005

[The following is an abridged translation of a selection of articles from Detik.com which were posted on its web site between March 15-18. Demonstrations have continued almost daily throughout the country after the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla (SBY-Kalla) announced the decision cut fuel (BBM) subsides on March 1.]

Makassar students issue no-confidence motion

Gunawan Mashar, Makassar - Around 200 students from the Greater Makassar Student Executive Council (BEM) presented a no-confidence motion to the South Sulawesi provincial parliament because they believe that assembly members have not support actions opposing fuel price increases.

The student arrived at the parliament at 11am and requested that the head of the parliament, Agus Arifin Nu'mang, meet with them and declare his support for canceling the increases. After waiting an hour however, not one assembly member emerged.

Infuriated, the students attacked the front gates of the parliament. "Starting now, we, all South Sulawesi students, issue a no-confidence motion in the members of the South Sulawesi provincial parliament", said BEM chairperson from the Alauddin Makassar State Institute of Islamic Studies, Ibnu Hajar.

After issuing the motion, students organised a convoy and returned to their respective campuses to demonstrate. As well as the groups of student from BEM, the parliament was also inundated by a other student groups who were demonstrating against the price increases including the Makassar chapter of the Association of Islamic Students (HMI) and the National Student League for Democracy (LMND).

Anti-fuel price demonstrators arrested by police

Astrid Felicia Lim, Jakarta - Dozens of demonstrators from a number of different organisations who were demonstrating against fuel price increases in front of the Atmajaya Campus in Semanggi, Jakarta, were arrested by police on March 14.

According to information from the City Forum (Forkot) public relations officer, Miksil Mina Munir, yesterday night an action was to be held at the national parliament in Senayan however it was canceled because it did not have permission from the police.

Around 300 demonstrators therefore returned to their coordination post in front of the Atmajaya campus and held an action there where they gave speeches and set fire to tires until around 10pm.

At 11pm, 500 police officers arrived and cordoned off the area then forcibly took away a number of female students and housewives who had participated in the demonstration.

"Then, at 12 midnight, the 35 people remaining were also forcibly removed and taken to the South Jakarta district police [station]. Up until now they are still there", said Munir when phoned by Detik.com on Tuesday morning (15/3).

Munir said however that the action would continue this afternoon at the national parliament. A number of groups are to participate including Forkot, the Indonesian Heroines of Democracy (SDI), the Volunteers for Democratic Struggle (RPD), the People's Opposition Front (FOR), the Urban Poor People's Union (SRMK) and the Women's Alliance (AP).

When contacted by Detik.com, the South Jakarta police denied holding a number of demonstrators overnight.

Yogyakarta students take to the streets again

Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta - On March 15, student from a number of different groups again took to the streets to oppose fuel price increases. During the action they said that the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla was neither pro-reform or pro-people.

The first action, which was held by the National Unity Front (FPN) at the Veteran National Development University campus in Yogyakarta, had been joined by dozens of students since 10am.

The second action was held half-an-hour later by the Joint School Forum (Sekber) and started at the Yogyakarta monument. They then held a long-march to the Yogyakarta provincial parliament ending up at the central post office.

Accompanied by a number of police officers, the demonstrators went to the provincial parliament were they gave speeches. Other potential targets such as the Pertamina state oil company offices and the State Palace were tightly guarded by police.

They also brought posters reading "BBM increases = SBY-JK step down", "Bring down prices = bring down SBY-JK" and "Reject BBM increases, reduce the price of basic goods".

The coordinator of Forum Sekber, Astra Diswan, said in a speech that Yudhoyono and Kalla had lied to the people and that the price increases have impacted most on the poor bearing in minded that the price of basic goods has increased in concert with fuel prices. "Meanwhile the subsidies which have been promised by the government [to compensate the poor] are just empty words and the price of fuel must come down again", said Diswan.

They also demanded that Yudhoyono replace his economic ministers who are clearly pro-IMF and other foreign lending institutions.

Housewives and children demonstrate at national parliament

Ahmad Dani, Jakarta - Around 50 housewives and children from the Indonesian Heroines of Democracy (SDI) demonstrated at the national parliament on March 15. They were demanding that the parliament force the government to cancel the fuel price increases.

The group arrived at the parliament in two busses at around 11.45am and immediately unfurled a banner filled with signatures opposing fuel price increases. They then took turns giving speeches.

One of the housewives accused Yudhoyono of going back on his promises. "SBY has not fulfilled his promises. Why is it always the little people who are now often victimised", she protested.

At 1pm seven SDI representatives entered the parliament to meat with the head of the parliament.

Fuel truck hijacked and escorted to East Java parliament

Budi Sugiharto, Surabaya - Around 100 activists from the Cipayung Group hijacked a fuel truck in the East Java city of Surabaya and escorted it to the provincial parliament. They were calling for fuel prices to be brought down.

The fuel truck, which was filled with Premium petrol from the state oil company Pertamina depot in Tanjung Perak was stopped on Jalan Pahlawan Surabaya at around 12.45pm on March 15.

The truck was then driven directly to the provincial parliament accompanied by a number of demonstrators. The other demonstrators followed behind on foot or riding motorbikes. On arriving at the parliament, the truck was used as a "ornament" for speeches. It was finally released at around 1pm.

The demonstrators failed to meet assembly members because dozens of police had blockaded the entrance. By 1.45pm, demonstrators were still trying to force their way in.

The demonstrators came from a number of groups including the Association of Catholic Students (PMKRI), Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII), the Indonesian Christian Students Movement (GMKI) and the Indonesian Nationalist Students Movement (GMNI).

They were demanding the cancellation of fuel price increase, revoking the law on liberalising oil and gas, bringing down the price of basic goods and increasing the duty on luxury goods.

Fuel price demonstration almost highjacks fuel truck

Ahmad Dani, Jakarta - A demonstration against fuel price increases held by hundreds of students from four different groups and the People's Democratic Party (PRD) in front of the national parliament almost succeeded in highjacking a fuel truck from the state oil company Pertamina on March 15.

As the truck went by, the student and PRD demonstrators were forming up under a pedestrian overpass in front of the parliament. A group of five students broke away and climbed up onto the vehicle. The spontaneous action resulted in an argument between the driver and students who eventually let the driver and the truck leave.

The demonstration creating a lengthy traffic jam on Jalan Gatot Soebroto because it took up two of the four lanes of traffic.

Demonstrators used a Mikrolet (small public transport vehicle) as stage for giving speeches. "We only have two demands, fuel is brought down or SBY-JK is brought down", said one of the students.

The four groups who had earlier been demonstrating in front of the Atma Jaya University campus were from the Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII), the National Student League for Democracy (LMND), the Indonesian Christian Students Movement (GMKI) and the Indonesian Nationalist Students Movement (GMNI).

Students 'cordon off' national parliament

Ahmad Dani, Jakarta - Around 150 Indonesian Muslim United Students Action Front (KAMMI) and Greater Jakarta Student Executive Council (BEM) students demonstrated demanding that the government revoke Presidential Decree Number 22/2005 on fuel price increases.

The students held a long-march from the Hotel Indonesia roundabout to the national parliament in Senayan, Jakarta, on March 15. On arriving at the parliament, they held the action on the left side of the parliaments gates immediately in front of the building meaning the parliament was blocked by demonstrators.

KAMMI chairperson Yuli Widiastono said that the students would continue to hold actions and urge the parliament to oppose fuel price increases. "If this doesn't happen, then we will urge the DPR to use the right to [hold] an inquiry. If that doesn't happen as well then we will mobilise even more people", said Widiastono.

Present of cow dung given to the national parliament

Ahmad Dani, Jakarta - The People's Representative Assembly (DPR) continues to be a target of protests against fuel price increases. This time demonstrators presented the parliament with a sack of cow dung.

The action was held by the Greater Jakarta Student Executive Council (BEM) and Indonesian Muslim United Students Action Front (KAMMI) in front of the parliament in Senayan, Jakarta, on March 15.

The students left the cow dung after their representatives failed to gain entry to a parliamentary plenary meeting. As many as 20 BEM and KAMMI representatives were blocked by security officers as the approached the meeting room which was being used to discuss the results of a parliamentary consultation meeting on the fuel price increases with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Disappointed with their failure to get into the meeting, the students unloaded a sack of cow dung from a vehicle which was then opened and the dung spread over the road.

"This cow dung is a present for DPR who’s performance is such that it is indeed appropriate to give them dung. Meaning the DPR's performance has been extremely poor", said the chairperson of KAMMI Bekasi, Aryanto Hendrata.

Earlier the action was marred by students and security personnel pushing and shoving each other however students calmed and at around 5.25 they disbanded and left.

More fuel price demonstrations at national parliament

Ahmad Dani, Jakarta - Around 200 people from the Greater Bandung Student Executive Council (BEM) and the University of Indonesia Student Action Front (FAM) held demonstration at the national parliament on March 17 opposing fuel price increases.

Demonstrators started arriving from the West Java provincial capital of Bandung by bus at around 11am and immediately launched a demonstration at the front gates of the parliament. Shortly afterwards they were followed by demonstrators from FAM.

Demonstrators called on the parliament to oppose the fuel subsidy cuts which they said only adds to the people's problems and this violates of the 1945 Constitution.

Nine student representatives are presently lobbying to be allowed to enter the parliament to view a consultation meeting between assembly leaders.

Makassar students collect signatures against fuel price increases

Gunawan Mashar, Makassar - Demonstrations against fuel price increase have continued in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar. On March 17 around 20 students from the Islam Makassar University held a demonstration in which they stopped drivers, especially government officials, asking them to sign a length of white cloth as a social protests against fuel price increases.

The students who were from the Indonesian Islamic Student Movement (PMII) started the action at 10.30am by spreading the white cloth out on the road.

"We will collect signatures and then we will show them to Mr. JK (Vice-president Jusuf Kalla) if he returns home to Makassar. [It demonstrates] that the people of South Sulawesi don't agree with the fuel increases", said one of the students in a speech.

The students ended the action at 1pm and plan to hold another demonstration tomorrow.

Workers and students in Sidoarjo set fire to tires

Budi Sugiharto, Sidoarjo - On March 17, around 500 workers and students in the East Java city of Sidoarjo set fire to tires as a protest against fuel price increases.

The demonstration began with a four kilometer long-march from the Delta Surya Stadium to the local parliament. The head of the Sidoarjo parliament, Arlie Fauzi sempat, met with demonstrators and promised he would convey their demands to the central government.

After dispersing, some of the demonstrators dove in the direction of Buduran to 'seal off' a petrol station but they were prevented from doing so by police. Six students were detained for questioning although police said they would not be charged.

Yogyakarta students almost clash with police

Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta - Hundreds of students from the Yogyakarta Social Alliance held an action against fuel price increases on March 17. Failing to break down the gates of the Yogyakarta Agung Building a clash nearly occurred with police.

The action was joined by BEM students from the University of Gadja Mada, the State University of Yogyakarta and the National Development University, the Association of Muhammadiyah Students (IMM), the Indonesian Muslim United Students Action Front (KAMMI), the Yogyakarta NGO Forum, the Yogyakarta National Students Forum and the Muslim Students Association for Reform (HMI-MPO). They carried a number of posters with messages such as "Cancel the BBM increases or SBY-JK step down", "DPR-SBY = coalition of people's oppressors" and "The DPR must reject BBM increases".

On arriving at the Agung Building students held prayers then presented speeches in the grounds of the Yogyakarta provisional parliament. In a speech, action coordinator Adi Prianto said the government of Yudhoyono and Kalla must be brought down immediately and the price increases canceled. "If within a short period SBY doesn't cancel and revoke the fuel price increases, students will continue to fight and take to the streets", threatened Prianto.

After holding a long-march through the Malioboro shopping district the group arrived at the Agung Building at around 3.30pm. Three platoons of police however had already cordoned off the building so they could get no closer than three meters from the main gate.

Although it was tightly guarded, it failed to deter the students from attempting to break down the gates. Singing "Sir, come on Sir, lets play, push and shove..." students and police pushed each other back an forth. The students were eventually forced back and the situation was eventually brought under control when the Yogyakarta chief of police intervened to calm the demonstrators down.

Makassar students cover their mouths with tape

Gunawan Mashar, Makassar – If previous actions against fuel price increases were made through public speeches, this time students form the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar held an action covering their mouths. The action was held as a symbol of the fact that the government doesn’t want to listen to the voices of the people.

The demonstration was held by around 20 students from the Makassar Islamic University on March 18 in front of their campus who covered their mouths with tape. “Talking doesn’t have any use, because the government does not want to pay attention to our demands. So it’s better to be silent”, said one of the students Anto.

The action started at 11am with speeches after which students simultaneously covered their mouths and gathered in front of the road with posters and pamphlets which they had brought.

Actions against fuel price increases have been held frequently by UIM students who have held continuous actions since prices were increases.

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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