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People take to the streets as price of basic commodities skyrockets

Detik.com - January 31, 2008

Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta – Hundreds of protesters from the Yogyakarta People's and Worker Alliance (ARPY) held an action in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on Thursday January 31.

The action started at 10am at the Gadjah Mada University campus roundabout in Bulaksumur. They had only one demand, bring down the price of basic commodities.

The demonstration was organised by a coalition of groups including the National Student League for Democracy (LMND), the Yogyakarta Association of Islamic Students (HMI), the Kinasih Trade Union, the Yogyakarta Non-government Organisation Forum (Forum LSM DIY) and victims of land evictions from the Parangtritis tourist area south of Yogyakarta.

After gathering at the roundabout, they then gave speeches. An open pickup van complete with a sound system was parked in front of the crowd of demonstrators and turned into a stage. The protesters also brought posters with message such as “Basic commodity prices skyrocket the people suffer”, “Reduce prices”, “Be on guard against the fake reformists” and “Increase workers’ wages”.

In a speech, action coordinator Tini Dawu said that the increase in the price of basic commodities such as cooking oil, rice, wheat and soybean over the last few months has resulted in additional suffering for the poor. Wages and incomes are already inadequate to support a family.

The government meanwhile prefers to import basic goods such as rice on the grounds that domestic production is no longer adequate to meet demand. Business meanwhile prefers to export crude palm oil on the grounds that the overseas market price is higher. As a consequence the price of cooking oil has increased and ordinary people can no longer afford to buy it.

“We have never received cheap rice for the poor. Imports continue to be opened up so as a result the poor become the victims”, shouted Dawu. They also noted that the present government has failed to hold down or address the increase in the price of basic commodities such as rice, cooking oil and corn flour.

Following the speeches, the protesters then held a long-march towards the Agung Building on Jl. Ahmad Yani via Jl. Cik Ditiro, the Gramedia intersection, the Yogyakarta monument, the Yogyakarta Regional House of Representatives building and the Yogyakarta governor’s office on Jl. Malioboro. The action did not encounter tight security from police with only one patrol car escorting the demonstrators during the march. (bgs/umi)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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