Indonesian students push for mining nationalisation

The National Student League for Democracy (LMND) held an action at the office of Exxon-Mobil in Jakarta on February 25 to demand the nationalisation of the Indonesian mining sector.

300 students also demonstrated for the same demand that day in Ternate, in north Malakus, while 300 also demonstrated in Maumere in Flores.

Its statement, titled "An Open Letter to Exxon-Mobil and co.", argued that the nationalisation of the mining industry is vital for realising its demand for free, quality education.

The statement argued: "Trillions of rupiah, the result of the bonanza, would be used to fund free education, book subsidies and IT (especially internet) in a massive way; to rehabilitate and modernise education facilities; reform the curriculum; increase teachers' pay and so on."

The statement condemned the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for not having the courage "to do what LMND is doing now", arguing that "they are only the foremen of foreign capital, not having any perspective for the independence of the nation".

The LMND stated that "next we would occupy [Exxon-Mobil's] friends such as Chevron, Newmont, Freeport, Total, ConocoPhilips and so on". According to the LMND, the campaign is designed to provide an explanation about "who our real oppressors are, who should inherit the natural riches of the country and how to confront the oppressors".

The action was part of mobilising around the "three banners of the people" of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas), which the LMND helped initiate. Papernas argues that with 92% of the Indonesian mining sector controlled by foreign capital, the most lucrative sector of the economy barely benefits the people.

The imperialist domination of Indonesia is clearly demonstrated by such corporate domination. Indonesians today suffer shortages of cooking oil, kerosene and other fuel, while according to government figures from 2003, over 30% of primary schools suffer "minor" disrepair, with 25% suffering major damage.

The action against Exxon-Mobil represents a racheting up of mobilisations around the country on the issue of nationalisation of the mining industry in the lead-up to the 2009 elections. The demand aims to demonstrate the alternative,
pro-poor policies presented by Papernas.

While continuing preparations for elections, in the context of onerous government requirements on party registration in order to participate, Papernas is also mobilising around its key demands, as well as continuing to campaign on urban poor and
workers' issues.

To participate in elections, parties must go through a highly restrictive verification process, which requires groups to prove they have leadership structures in 60% of provinces,
50% of districts and 20% of subdistricts.