Indonesia: Growing fuel price protests meet repression

The report below is based on accounts posted to the blog of the Indonesian National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas). Visit http://papernas-international.blogspot.com.

Waves of protests against the national government's plan to raise fuel price are intensifying. They have spread to and involved almost all popular sectors (workers, students, peasants and the urban poor).

Actions across Indonesia occurred on May 21, coordinated by the People Accuse Front (FRM) and the National Students' League for Democracy (LMND) to protest the planned fuel price increase and to commemorate a decade since the fall of the dictator Suharto in a mass uprising.

In Jakarta, 150 FRM protesters camped on the Proclamation Monument continued their action to reject the fuel price rise, marching to the State Palace where thousands of others were already demonstrating. Police attempted to block the FRM demonstration from protesting right in front of the palace, leading to a confrontation. At the time of writing, 18 FRM activists are still detained by police.

In Bundung, in West Java, 50 LMND activists staged a protest. An LMND spokesperson stated that the government had no reason to raise fuel prices, arguing that if the world's fuel price rocketed, Indonesia should be able to reap the windfall profit as an oil producer, if not for the fact that its oil and gas fields are controlled by foreign companies.

The spokesperson argued that the government should nationalise the mining industry for energy security and as the basis for national industralisation. Police violently dispersed the protest, injuring five LMND activists.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, thousands of people from the FRM demonstrated in front of the house of Vice-President Jusuf Kalla. In Toraja, South Sulawesi, 600 protesters from Tana Toraja Students' Alliance occupied the local parliament to reject the fuel price rise. Paskah Linting, LMND Tana Toraja executive member, stressed that the government must have the courage to nationalise foreign-owned mining companies and reject the payment of foreign debt.

Actions also occurred in cities across Indonesia. LMND national executive member Rudi Hartono reported on May 22 that dozens of LMND and other activists had been arrested around the country at demonstrations, with dozens wounded in clashes with police.

Activists are calling for solidarity and support. Please send messages of protest demanding the detainees be released to Indonesia National Police headquarters: fax +62 21 721 8144, SMS +62 818315 703, or email . Send messages of solidarity to Rudi at .