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Demonstrations escalate as government announces fuel price hikes
Detik.com - March 1, 2005
[The following is an abridged translation of a selection of articles from Detik.com which were posted on its web site on March 1 after the Indonesian government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla (SBY-Kalla) announced the decision cut fuel (BBM) subsides.]
Makassar students burn tires over fuel price increases
Gunawan Mashar, Makassar – Makassar students greeted fuel price increases by demonstrating on the night of Monday February 28. Demonstrations were held at a number of parts of the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar with student burning tires and reading from the Koran as symbols of the “death of the little people” who are being burdened with a higher cost of living.
Piles of tires were burnt in front of the Makassar State University while students waited for an official announcement on the price increases. At the Makassar Islamic University students from the Indonesian Islamic Student Movement burnt tires and gave recitations from the Koran.
A demonstration was also organised at the Alauddin State Institute of Islamic Studies where student gave speeches in the middle of the road.
Hundreds of students in Kupang blockade roads
Emmy F, Kupang – Around 100 students from the National Student League for Democracy (LMND) held a demonstration protesting against fuel price increases.
The students who came from a number of colleges in Kupang, blockaded Jalan Soeharto and gave speeches. They also brought banners and posters with messages condemning the SBY-Kalla government.
Students said that the policy to increase fuel prices was made under pressure from the rich countries and the IMF and that it only represents a continuation of the policies of the previous government because the majority of the cabinet are people from the New Order regime of former President Suharto. They rejected the increases and urged the authorities to arrest the corrupters and seize their wealth to pay for subsidies for the people.
As of going to press, the blockade which started at 9am is still in place. Dozens of police officers were present but took no action.
Dozens of angkot (small inter-city public transport vehicle) drivers also held a similar action at the government office for public relations in Kupang. They urged the government to adjust fares because the fuel price increases will be followed by increases in the price of spare parts.
Opposing price increases, students highjack petrol truck
Ismoko Widyaya, Jakarta – Lively demonstrations against the government’s decision to increase fuel prices are continuing. On Tuesday March 1, Students from the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) protested the increases by highjacking a fuel truck.
The action which was organised by around 100 students, had been going on since 9am at the UIN campus in Ciputat, South Jakarta. A number of students wore head bands with the writing “We oppose BBM increases”.
The started the action by burning tires in front of the campus. Scattered around the burning tires were posters with messages condemning the increases such as “BBM goes up, SBY goes down”, “SBY constantly lies” and “The people have suffered enough, reduce BBM right now”.
At 10am a kerosene tanker drove by and the students immediately encircled and “highjacked” it, planning to distribute the kerosene to the people. It turned out however that the tanker was empty and was eventually allowed to go at 11am.
UIN Student Executive Council spokesperson Rahmat Sahid said that they would continue the protests for four days straight demanding the cancellation of the price increases and a reduction in the price of basic goods.
Fuel prices increase, Yogya students ‘seal off’ Pertamina offices
Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta – Hundreds of students from a number of different groups in Yogyakarta, Central Java, demonstrated opposing fuel price increases by ‘sealing off’ the state oil company Pertamina offices on Jalan Mangkubumi. Students believe that the SBY-Kalla government has failed to fulfil its promises and must therefore resign.
The action on Tuesday March 1 which began at 9.30am, was joined by students from the Muhammadiyah Student Association (IMM), the Islamic State University (UNI) and the Yogyakarta Student Alliance which represents a coalition of Student Executive Councils from the Gadjah Mada University, the Yogyakarta State University, the Islamic Student Association for Reform (HMI-MPO) and the Yogyakarta Indonesian Muslim Student Action Front (KAMMI)
Before ‘sealing off’ the Pertamina offices the students gave speeches and burnt tires at the Yogyakarta monument. As well as bringing the flags of their respective organisations, they also brought posters reading “SBY where is your promise?”, “BBM = A burden for the people”, “BBM goes up = Tsunami chapter II”, and “Stop oppression in the name of BBM increases”.
After some 30 minutes of speeches, demonstrators held a long-march to the Pertamina offices. Because Pertamina knew it was a target, the front gates had been closed since 9am and tightly guarded by police and soldiers from the sub-district military command.
At around 10.30am the number of demonstrators grew even larger after hundreds of members from the Yogyakarta Social Alliance joined the rally. Although students had already asked permission to enter, security personnel refused to allow them to go in.
After negotiations, the demonstrators were finally allowed to ‘seal off’ the Pertamina offices. The offices windows were covered with massages reading “Sealed off, BBM goes up = the little people suffer”. They then held a long-march to the Yogyakarta parliament on Jalan Malioboro.
Opposing price increases, students also burn tires in Jakarta
Hendi Suhendratio, Jakarta – An action against fuel price increases on Tuesday March 1 was also organised by students from the Indonesian Christian University (UKI). Like other demonstrations, they also burnt tires as symbol of protest.
The action in front of the UKI campus in Cawang, South Jakarta, had been in progress since 11am. In front of the UKI campus gates a huge banner was erected reading “The people are suffering, oppose BBM increases”.
The students numbering around 100 gave speeches and repeatedly shouted “Oppose BBM right now”. They also set fire to tires in front of the campus and as would be expected, it created a traffic jam.
Action coordinator Onis said that the students had planned to highjack a passing fuel tanker however none had passed the campus yet so student gave speeches while they waited for one to pass.
In a statement, they demanded that the fuel price increases which had only just been announced the previous night be canceled and that cutting fuel subsidies was not the correct solution to subsidising needs of the people’s.
1,680 demonstrate over price increase, State Palace a favorite target
Muhammad Atqa, Jakarta – Thousands of students from 11 Jakarta student organisations have held demonstrators against fuel price increases with the State Palace being the favorite target.
This was revealed in data gathered by the Intelligence Directorate and Metro Jaya police on Tuesday March 1. Of these eleven student groups, seven chose the State Palace as the location for their actions.
The groups include 150 students from the University of Indonesia Student Executive Council (BEM) who had earlier held an action at the national parliament, 250 students the Jakarta Student Action Circle, 100 people from the Poor People’s Youth Militia, 100 workers from the Port Transportation Trade Union, 80 student from the Jakarta Students Central Movement and 150 students from the Student Liberation Movement.
Other groups which chose the State Palace for their actions included 300 students from the Greater Jakarta Student Executive Council and 100 students from the State Islamic University who also invited bus drivers and conductors to go on strike.
In addition to this, 150 students from the Indonesian Christian University (UKI) demonstrated in front of the Cawang campus in South Jakarta and around 150 students from UKI who demonstrated at the Salemba campus in Central Jakarta.
The Metro Jaya police said that they would break up demonstrations without permits and if they burnt photographs of the president and vice-president police will take action in accordance with the law because it is an insult against the head of state. To safeguard the State Palace, police have deployed around 452 personnel.
Demonstration against price increases causes one-hour traffic jam
Hendi Suhendratio, Jakarta – Students from the Indonesian Christian University (UKI) set fire to tires in the middle of the road as a protest against fuel price increases on Tuesday March 1. As a result, Jalan Mayjen Sutoyo in Cawang, South Jakarta, was brought to a standstill for almost one hour.
At first students only burnt tires in front of the campus however from 2pm they started burning them in the middle of the road. The action took up four lanes leaving only two for motorists to use. As a result cars and buses were unable to move. Only two traffic police were present so they were busy guarding the student action. It wasn’t until 3.15 that traffic began to flow again.
The spokesperson for the action, Onis, said the UKI students would continue holding demonstrations until the price of fuel is brought back down. Earlier they had tried to highjack a fuel truck but there weren’t enough students hold the truck for long.
Three students arrested for burning photograph of SBY
Arry Anggadha, Jakarta – Three students who were involved in an action against fuel price increases were arrested by police on Tuesday March 1 for burning photographs of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).
The arrests were have been confirmed by the Metro Jaya police chief Inspector General Firman Gani. “Yes, it’s true, there were three people who were arrested but not those which were holding an action in front of the [State] Palace. They were holding an action at the University of Indonesia in Salemba and come from the United People’s Alliance”, said Gani when asked for confirmation of the arrests.
Gani said the three were arrested because they were intending to burn photographs of SBY. Evidence of this was found at the location of the demonstration where photographs of SBY were found which had already been crossed out. Also found were tires and petrol.
“At the moment they are being question by the Metro Jaya police. If proven [guilty], there is a possibility that they will be [formally charged and] arrested”, he said.
[Translated by James Balowski.]
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