At midnight on February 28, the government announced an increase in fuel prices, with the price of Premium petrol increasing from 1,810 rupiah per litre to 2,400 and diesel fuel from 1,650 to 2,300 per litre.
The following day, March 1, there were violent protests by the Indonesian people and democratic movement organisations in opposition to the increases which were demonstrated by actions being held in almost all parts of the country. On March 1, the United People’s Alliance (Aliansi Rakyat Bersatu, ARB) which is made up of a number of pro-democracy groups including students, workers, farmers, the urban poor and non-government organisations, held an action at the University of Indonesia campus in Salemba, Central Jakarta.
The action had only just begun when two demonstrators, Mozes Leonard (chairperson of the Jakarta National Student League for Democracy) and Lubis (a Taman Ismail Marzuki arts center activist), were arrested by Central Jakarta police. They have been accused of violating Article 134 of the Criminal Code (the notorious hate sowing articles) and are still being detained and questioned.
These arrests prove that the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice-president Jusuf Kalla, in forcing though the policy to increase fuel prices, are prepared to resort to repression to ensure security. Repression is the tool of an anti-democratic government and the legal grounds being used to charge the activists, the Criminal Code, is an obsolete product of Dutch colonialism which should no longer be used in this era of democracy.
Repression is frequently experienced by pro-democracy activists and the poor. Aside from the repression and violence experienced during the period of the New Order regime of former President Suharto, more recently there has been the beating and arrest of activists over the waste incinerator in Bojong, the Lubuk Linggau illegal logging case in South Sulawesi, the recent arrest of an activist from the Islamic State University in Jakarta, the arrest of activists from the Udayana University in Bali and the arrest of Monang from the Indonesian Nationalist Students Movement, just to name a few. All of these incidence are an indication of how democratic space is being restricted. The freedom of expression, to form trade unions, of assembly and to organise, as a basic tenant of democracy, must be respected and safeguarded.
There is an urgent need to call as strongly as possible, for the opening up of democratic space as one of the preconditions to ensuring democracy and welfare for the people.
The United People’s Alliance therefore:
1. Opposes the fuel price increases and calls for a return to the old prices;
2. Calls for the unconditional release of Mozez Leonard, Lubis, Monang and all political prisoners;
3. Urges parents, sisters and brothers, workers, farmers, the urban poor, students and the ordinary people to unite in a pro-democratic coalition to wage a consistent struggle for the people’s liberation;
4. Calls for all pro-democracy organisations and individuals, regardless of their political ideology, to unite in a national front of struggle.
This cannot be delayed any longer!
Unite to form a government which is clean, democratic, independent and populist!
United People’s Alliance
Jakarta, March 2, 2005
Indonesian Student League for Democracy (LMND), Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII), Indonesian Nationalist Students Movement (GMNI), Association of Catholic Students (PMKRI), Association of Islamic Students (HMI), Indonesian Christian Students Movement (GMKI), Center of Information and Action Network for Reform (PIJAR), National Independent Student Movement (GMNK), Action Study Circle for Indonesian Democracy (LS-ADI), KAM LAKSI, GMS Jayabaya, Democratic Student Network (JMD), Papua Student Alliance (AMP), University of Bung Karno Student Executive Council, SRMK, Popular Youth Movement (GPK), BOR, People’s Cultural Network (JAKER), GRN, National Farmers Union (STN), Indonesian National Labour Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI), Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (Gaspermindo), Indonesian Association of Trade Workers (ASPEK), Coalition Against Debt (KAU), NOVICO, Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI), Kenduri Cinta, People’s Democratic Party (PRD).
[Translated by James Balowski.]