Disappointed with government, demonstrations erupt in several cities

Kompas – October 21, 2005
Student protesters burn pictures of SBY-JK (Liputan 6)
Student protesters burn pictures of SBY-JK (Liputan 6)

Jakarta – The first anniversary of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla (SBY-JK) on Thursday October 20 was accompanied by demonstrations in a number of place in Indonesia including in front of the State Palace (Jakarta), Solo (Central Java) and Palembang (South Sumatra).

Among other things, demonstrators were demanding that the fuel price increases be revoked. They condemned the government’s performance saying that the government is causing the people to suffer. Demonstrators also stated that the government has reneged on its promises that were made during the presidential election campaign last year.

The demonstration in front of the State Palace began at around 3.30pm and involved at least 500 people from the Islamic Student Association (HMI), the Indonesia Nationalist Student Movement (GMNI), the Nahdlatul Ulama Student Movement (GMNU), a number of Student Executive Councils, the Indonesian Islamic Students Association (PMII), the People’s Charge Alliance (ARM), the Urban Movement Network (UMN) the Urban Alliance Student Network (UASN) and workers.

A number of demonstrators not wearing shirts slept in a line on the road in front of the Palace. Strewn among them were banners filled the shortfalls of the jargon used during the campaign period, One of year SBY-JK, together we suffer. They only disbanded after breaking fast and evening prayers on the road. The action was guarded by around 2,400 police officers.

While the demonstration was taking place, Yudhoyono was in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan. However presidential spokesperson Andi Malarangeng and other staff watched the demonstration. I saw People’s Sovereignty Party general secretary Jumhur Hidayat and former People’s Democratic Party chairperson Budiman Sudjatmiko at the demonstration said Malarangeng who did not accompany the president.

Demonstration in Solo

In Solo, student demonstrations took place in the morning and at noon in two separate places. The first demonstration was organised by the Anti-Neoliberal Front (FAN). The demonstrations took place at 10am beginning from the Mesen campus of the Eleven March University and was followed by a long-march toward the Gladak roundabout passing though the Gede Market and the Solo City Public Hall.

The second demonstration was organised by the Social Alliance for the People’s Welfare (Amuk-Rakyat) at the Solo Public Hall. The demonstrators also criticised the Yudhoyono-Kalla government. The demonstration which was held to coincide with breaking fast and began with a long-march from Gede Market towards the public hall.

According to demonstrations, the fuel price hikes had caused an increase in the number of poor as a result of the increasingly high cost of living. In a speech, action coordinator Gusma said that in the future the poor groups would become more ignorant, malnourished and unhealthy. They will collapse one by one because of disease or suicide because of frustration with an increasingly difficult live.

They said that Yudhoyono-Kalla had reneged on their promises as they had said that they would not increase fuel prices more than once in 2005. As well as opposing the fuel price hikes, demonstrators also called on the government not to realise plans to import rice which they are concerned will cause farmers even more suffering.

In Palembang, demonstrators from the Student Communication Forum (FKM) under action coordinator Reza Pahlevi declared that direct cash assistance as compensation for fuel price increase will not be enough to cover increases in the living cost for the poor.

Demonstrators called on the president to revoke the price increase and declared that that fuel price increases represented the government’s failure to manage the economy. (DWA/INU/EKI/LKT/ECA)

[Translated by James Balowski.]