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Protesters in Surabaya and Kediri condemn Yudhoyono administration

Tempo Interactive - October 20, 2011

Fatkhurrohman Taufiq and Hari Tri Wasono, Surabaya Ė The second year of the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and Vice President Boediono was commemorated with protests on Tuesday October 20 by students, workers and even street children in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya and the nearby East Java city of Kediri.

In Surabaya, protest actions were held in front of the East Java Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) on Jl. Indrapura and the State Grahadi Building on Jl. Gubernur Suryo.

An action is also planned for 7pm by protesters calling themselves the Occupy Surabaya Juang who will hold an evening of contemplation in front of the State Grahadi Building. "The SBY-Boediono administration has fallen into a path that disavows the mandate of the 1945 Constitution. Much [of the country's] natural wealth and strategic assets have been robbed and sold off to foreigners", said Occupy Surabaya Juang coordinator Catur Wibowo.

As many as 350 officers from the Surabaya metropolitan district police and sectoral police were deployed to watch over the protest action. Security was also reinforced by personnel from the East Java Mobile Brigade (Brimob).

Hundreds of people from the People's Action Committee (KAR), which is an alliance of the Indonesian National Students Movement (GMNI), the Muhammadiyah Students Association (IMM), trade unions and street children, were the first group to arrive at the State Grahadi Building.

They called on Yudhoyono and Boediono to resign immediately because they have failed to safeguard the country from the chasm of poverty. "It is impossible for this nation to be led by a person who is hesitant and is more interested in image that performance", said KAR spokesperson Andreas.

In addition to giving speeches, the demonstrators also held a theatrical action in which one of the participants was wrapped in white cloth until they resembled a corpse in a burial shroud. His face was adorned with a mask with a picture of President Yudhoyono.

The action was also enlivened by the arrival of three other groups of protesters from the Surabaya State University Student Executive Council (BEM), the State Institute of Islamic Studies Democratic Circle Forum (LDF) and the National Student Front (FMN).

Students from the Indonusa Esa Unggul University (Unesa) BEM smeared red paint over one of the demonstrators with the initials SBY written on their back. "This is a symbol of the death of the president's conscience", said BEM Unesa coordinator Shodikin.

Protesters from the LDF meanwhile pelted a statue of Yudhoyono with tomatoes and rotten cabbages. The also tried to set fire to a bier but were immediately stopped by police who doused the bier with water.

In Kediri, a protest action was held by the Kediri IMM in front of the city hall building and the Kediri city DPRD in which they formed a "reshuffle committee" to sack Yudhoyono from the presidency. They also forced Kediri city secretary Agus Wahyudi to sign a letter of dismissal for Yudhoyono. "The one who should be reshuffled is SBY himself", shouted action coordinator Muhammad Huda.

During the action the students also conveyed a statement by their colleges from Yudhoyono's home town of Pacitan who are ashamed of his leadership. As fellow residents of Pacitan they said that Yudhoyono had totally failed to reflect an attitude of wisdom.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]

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