18 June 2008

FPN Protest Action Against Fuel Price Hike May 29 and June 1

Workers, students and housewives protest fuel price hikes
Metro TV News - May 29, 2008

Jakarta -- Around 500 workers, children and housewives protested at the offices of the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare in Jakarta on Thursday May 29 against the recent fuel price hikes.

The protesters, who came from the National Liberation Front (FPN), started the action by gathering at the Grogol bus terminal in West Jakarta then moving off towards the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Central Jakarta. They then marched back to the Welfare Ministers office and then on the State Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta.
In addition to opposing the fuel price hikes and the high price of basic commodities, they also called for cuts to government officials’ wages and the nationalisation of the oil and gas industry under the control of the people.

After demonstrating at the Vice Presidential Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan they then protested in front of the State Palace. Security for the Palace had been tightened by a joint contingent of personnel from the Cental Jakarta district police and the Gambir sectoral police.
Later they were joined by some 500 demonstrators who had earlier protested at the University of Indonesia campus in Salemba. They also made similar demands as well as calling for public transport to be subsidised.
PDI-P politician Permadi turned away from fuel price protest
myRMnews - May 29, 2008
Sugihono, Jakarta -- Apparently with the firm intention of supporting an action opposing the recent fuel price increases at the State Palace in Central Jakarta, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Permadi was instead turned away by protesters.
The incident occurred as hundreds of students and workers from the National Liberation Front (FPN) arrived in front of the State Palace on the afternoon of Thursday May 29 to protest against the price hikes.

Upon seeing Permadi approach the crowd of students and workers, a student speaking through a megaphone from on top of the command vehicle began shouting at Permadi calling him a liar. “Overthrow the political elite, power to the people”, the other demonstrators sung in unison.
Seeing the behaviour of the protesters, Permadi was crestfallen and eventually moved away from the demonstration.

In a speech one of the workers said that the action is not being used for the benefit of anyone, either from the political elite or any of the political parties. “For us (workers) it is already clear, the parties have been proven not to side with ordinary people and workers”, they asserted.
Permadi claimed that his presence at the rally was not to represent the party but was in a personal capacity. “I personally join in supporting worker and student actions opposing the fuel price hikes”, he said. (dry)

There have been a number of reports in the Indonesian media recently in which political figures such as former economic minister Rizal Ramli and retired Indonesian military chief General Wiranto from the Indonesian Awakening Committee have been accused of using student demonstrations against the fuel price hikes for their own ends. Ramli himself has taken part in a number of protest actions and spoke at a rally organised by groups affiliated with the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) in Jakarta on May 20.

Workers and students descend on State Palace over fuel price hikes
Detik.com - May 29, 2008
Didi Syafirdi, Jakarta -- Beep...! Beep....! The sound of vehicles beeping at each other reverberated along Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta. It was total gridlock from the Horse Statue to the State Palace as hundreds of workers and students prepared to descend upon the State Palace.

According to Detik’s observations on Thursday May 29 at around 3pm, some 300 demonstrators from the National Liberation Front (FPN), the Workers Challenge Alliance (ABM) and the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI) had gathered on the road in front of the Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI) building.

The flags of the respective organisations and posters were also brought to the rally with messages such as “Thwart the fuel price hike”, “BLT [Direct Cash Assistance] = Subsidised Instant Death” and “SBY-JK [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono-Vice President Jusuf Kalla] the anti-people political elite”.

The protesters remained in place for around half-an-hour with traffic going north in the direction of Harmoni coming to a complete standstill. Then at around 3.30 pm one of the demonstrators shouted, “Come on comrades, let’s go to the palace, we’ll break down the barbed wire fence”. Greeted by cheers from the other demonstrators they began crossing the road to the National Monument (Monas) with police closing off a section of road on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat and Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara.

Around 200 police then formed a line holding a white tether from the traffic lights on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat near the offices of the Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare preventing the protesters from getting too near the palace. The police blockade resulted in traffic coming in to Jl. Thamrin having to turn around and return in the direction of Harmoni.
When the protesters started to besiege Monas the police line also shifted to follow the demonstrators and the traffic from the Horse Statue heading towards Harmoni gradually began to flow smoothly.

When police refused to let the protesters approach the palace saying it violated the law an argument erupted between Yoyok from the ABM and Central Jakarta deputy police Chief Assistant Superintendent Heru Wibowo. Yoyok insisted that the protesters be allowed to demonstrate in front of the palace while Wibowo threatened to arrest the rally martials if they forced the issue.

“We are taking action not because there are political elite [behind the protest], hence we are being obstructed. We must try to reach the palace, the people must be courageous”, shouted Yoyok.

Following the demonstration at the State Palace, the protesters disbanded and marched back to the Horse Statue, again creating a traffic jam on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat and Jl. Thamrin, before going their separated ways.

On June 1, the FPM said it is planning similar actions but with even larger numbers. Before leaving FPM coordinator Anwar Sastro Ma'ruf said that they would be conducting the actions in a peaceful manner. “So don’t let there be repressive acts by security personnel”, he said.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski compiled from three reports in Detik.com on May 29.]

Still no let up to protest actions against fuel price hikes
Tempo Interactive - June 1, 2008
Sofian, Jakarta -- Protest actions opposing the recent fuel price hike look set to continue. Based on data from the Metro Jaya regional police Traffic Management Centre (TMC) there will be at least three demonstrations related to the fuel prices on Sunday June 1.

At 11am at least 500 people from the People’s Struggle Front (FPR) will demonstrate at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout and the State Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta. In addition to demanding that the fuel price increases be revoked, they will also be calling on the government to bring down the price of basic commodities, increase the workers’ and farmers’ wages and provide job opportunities.

The National Liberation Front (FPN) will also be demonstrating in the same area. The protest action, which are expected to attract around 1,000 people, will start at 12noon at the World Bank offices and the State Palace. As well as continuing to protest the fuel price hikes, they will also be demanding the nationalisation of the mining industry under the control of the people and voicing their opposition to World Bank intervention in Indonesia.

At 1pm members of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) will also be holding an action in front of the State Palace expressing their opposition to the fuel price increases. At around the same time a mass rally and parade will be organised by the National Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Faith (AKKBB). The action will be held at two locations -- behind the Gambir trains station and at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout.

The rally, which is expected to attract around 3,000 people, will be opposing the existence of groups that use force or violence to counter the beliefs of other groups. A number of public figures are planed to speak at the rally.

The AKKBB rally at the National Monument was later attacked by members of the right-wing Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leaving 34 people injured. Despite a large police presence, no arrests were made.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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