Surabaya legal aid office stormed by nationalist thugs over anti-mine protests

CNN Indonesia – February 28, 2020
Video grab during incident at Surabaya LBH office – February 27, 2020 (Twitter)

Jakarta – The Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) office in the East Java capital of Surabaya was besieged by scores of people wearing black safari suits from the mass organisation (ormas) Pancasila Youth (PP) and other affiliated groups.

This was revealed by LBH Surabaya Director Abdul Wachid Habibullah who said that the incident began when local people impacted upon by a gold mine at Tumpang Pitu in Banyuwangi, East Java, had gathered at the LBH offices.

“At 11 am several unidentified men suddenly entered the LBH Surabaya lobby claiming to be from Banyuwangi. They were looking for the LBH Surabaya director and to confirm if [anti-mine] protesters were gathering at the LBH Surabaya offices”, said Habibullah when sought for confirmation on Thursday February 27.

Habibullah said that the people then snarled at and forbid the demonstrators opposing the mine from holding an action in front of the East Java governor’s office. One of the people from the unidentified group even threatened that they would block the demonstrators from departing for the governor’s office.

“When again asked to confirm who there were, they admitted to being from the ormas Pancasila Youth and an alliance of other ormas”, he said.

The situation grew tense when one of the people from the group bashed on a desk and again threatened to block the protesters if they set off for the governor’s office from the LBH offices.

Following this incident, said Habibullah, the unidentified mob could be seen hanging around the vicinity of the LBH office. Police officers then arrived to provide security.

On February 15-20 residents from the Sumberagung Village in Pesanggaran, Banyuwangi, along with people from four other nearby villages that had formed a group called the Banyuwangi People’s Forum held a 300 kilometre bicycle peddling campaign from Banyuwangi to Surabaya as a form of protest against the gold mine at Tumpang Pitu.

During the action they urged East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa to revoke the mining licenses held by the companies PT. Bumi Suksesindo (BSI) and PT. Damai Suksesindo (DSI) which they said had damaged the environment.

Following the bicycle peddling campaign, on February 21 they held a hunger strike in front of the East Java governor’s office on Jl Pahlawan in Surabaya. So far however, Governor Parawansa has ignored their fight against the mine.

The protesters plan to continue holding actions until their demands are met by the former Social Affairs Minister. (frd/end)


The Pancasila Youth was established by the army in October 1959 and took an active part in the 1965 anti-communist purges. Under Suharto’s New Order it evolved into an association of thugs and petty criminals who did the regime’s dirty work. Post 1998 it maintained close ties with the military and police and has been linked to criminal activities such as racketeering and extortion and has been involved in attacks on leftist groups and events that it deems to be “pro-communist” or “anti-Pancasila”. In 2019 it endorsed President Joko Widodo’s election campaign with Widodo applauding the group for its contribution to the nation.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Kronologi Kantor LBH Surabaya Digeruduk Ormas”.]