Gebrak workers mark May Day on anniversary of Suharto's overthrow

CNN Indonesia – May 21, 2022
Gebrak workers carry giant effigy of rat at May Day rally in Jakarta – May 21, 2022 (CNN)

Jakarta – Protesters from the Labour Movement with the People (Gebrak) brought a giant effigy of a rat wearing a tie along with a large book, flags, posters and a banner containing their demands on the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin to a rally in Central Jakarta today.

The replica rat was in the form of a human body with the head of a rat and wore a black tie and carried a suitcase with a dollar sign on it. The demonstrators also brought pamphlets alluding to corruptors.

"The rat wearing a tie is where authority is destroyed today as a consequence of greedy corruptors", said Gebrak spokesperson Nining Elitos when speaking to journalists at the rally on Saturday May 21.

According to Elitos, corrupters are the destroyers of the order and system of government. "In the end they make us taken on a big debt and the ordinary people become the principle victims", she continued.

Elitos also highlighted government policies which do not side with the ordinary people. One of these is revoking subsidies and the rise in the price of basic necessities. According to Elitos, this situation shows that the country is in a state of corruption emergency.

The large book meanwhile had the writing "The Disaster Omnibus Law" written on it, which Elitos referred to as a law made by the government in a reckless manner which was undemocratic in its formulation.

Moreover the law was made in a short time and was referred to by Elitos as being like Indonesia's independence.

"[The Omnibus Law] was made in a short time like Indonesia's independence, made as quickly as possible, but it ignores the aspect of humanity and the ordinary people's welfare", she said.

The thousands of workers from Gebrak took to the streets today, May 21, to commemorate International Labour Day or May Day.

The alliance, which is made of organisations under the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (KASBI) and other groups chose to celebrate May Day today which because it is also the anniversary of the resignation of former president Suharto, May 21, 1998.

The action was held near the Arjuna Wiwaha Horse Statue on Jl Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta, which is around one kilometre from the Presidential Palace.

Elitos said that there were several demands taken up by the protesters, namely revoking the Omnibus Law, rejecting revisions to the law on the formulation of legislation (UU PPP) and calling for a reduction in the cost of basic goods and fuel.

"[Including] rejecting a postponement of the [2024] elections and an extension of the president's term in office, calling for an end to repression against the people's movement and the arrest, trial and imprisonment of corruptors and the seizure of their assets", said Elitos. (cfd/pmg)


Gebrak also commemorated May Day today because this year May 1 fell on the first day of the Lebaran holidays following the Islamic fasting month when millions of people join the mudik exodus and return to their hometowns.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Buruh Demo Bawa Boneka Tikus Berdasi dan Buku Besar Omnibus Law Cilaka".]