by John Pakage for West Papua Media
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
PROTESTS AGAINST FUEL PRICES INCREASE SWEEP INDONESIA AND PAPUA
In Nabire, Papua, there are gas stations owned by active Police officers, and rumours are circulating that security forces are manipulating subsidized fuel stocks in Papua. While in Papua Police officers own gas stations, elsewhere Police officers are seizing fuel belonging to civilians. Take for example the case in Tuban, East Java: on March 22, 17 drums of diesel fuel were found by police during sweeping raids to counter fuel hoarding in anticipation of the Indonesian government’s increases to fuel prices which come into effect April 1 2012.
Besides this, Police Inspector-General Saud Usman Nasution, Division Head/Community Relations, also stated that there have been no fewer than 266 charges laid in 232 cases of fuel hoarding in Kalimantan, with a further 11 cases still under investigation. If Police are empowered to seize people’s fuel, then who can tackle the Police’s control of fuel stocks in Papua?
Meanwhile though the price of fuel has yet to increase officially, in Papua and especially in the areas of the interior, fuel prices have already skyrocketed up to Rp. 20 000-30 000 ($2.15-3.25 USD) per litre, leaving one to wonder: just how high will prices rise after April 1?
To oppose the program of the SBY (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono)-Boediono government to raise fuel prices from Rp. 5000 to 6500 ($0.55 to $0.70 USD), mass protests have spread throughout Indonesia. With students and workers leading the way, it is not simply party cadres demonstrating, but even housewives are taking to the streets and refusing to accept the government’s policy.
Regrettably, at the time of these massive demonstrations, President SBY, who was selected by the Indonesian people, has not even been present in Indonesia. Will the President answer the demands of the people, meet with them and comment on their aspirations? Until now no such word has been uttered by the President.
Many parties judge fuel prices increase to be unrelated to world fuel price fluctuations but rather intended simply to increase net revenues, as suggested by Hendrawan Supratikno, member of Committee 5 of the People’s Legislative Assembly (DPR), Tuesday March 27.
Of course, the increase to fuel prices is felt directly by the people, such that a coalition of Papuan students from different Universities in Jayapura have demonstrated in front of the Papua People’s Legislative Assembly (DPRP), Tuesday March 27.
Alas, the government seems unwilling to alter its fuel increase policy even facing masses of thousands organizing actions all over Indonesia.
Still, the efforts to pressure the Indonesian government continue. These actions have brought victims: the protest in Jakarta left 15 people injured after a clash with police at Gambir, Central Jakarta; the victims were taken to Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM).
Here are the names of those hospitalized, as posted at RSCM Emergency Department:
1. Fajar, student from Univertas Pamulang (UNPAM)
2. Makmun, student from UNPAM
3. Pungky, student from UNPAM
4. Erwin, student from Palu, South Sulawesi
5. Fariz, from Lenteng Agung
6. Ahmad Sofyan, student from UNPAM
7. Okki, student at IISIP
8. Alif al hafidi from Bogor
9. Alan Fitnur from Cirebon
10. Moch Taufik
11. Moh. Imam, student from BSI
12. Idris Syahrian, PDIP officer, Bekasi
13. Ahmad Bagja from Komplek Depag, Tangerang
14. Bribtu Dhany, from Mako Den B, Pelopor Cipinang
15. Zein, student from Sulawesi
Besides this, in Makassar as well, Metro TV has reported on the beating of a student by Police. The student’s condition is of course cause for serious concern.
Meanwhile, President SBY continues to sojourn overseas. To counter the mass demonstrations, SBY has deployed thousands of Military (TNI) troops as well as fully armed Police units. Not only this, but Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi asserted that if the legislation confirming the fuel price increase is made law then local and regional officials known to participate in protest actions will be fired.
The increasing authoritarian and undemocratic character of the State is becoming more visible, as laws guaranteeing freedom of public expression are being pushed aside.
The Interior Minister’s pressure has not succeeded in reducing the number of state officials joining in voicing the people’s aspirations. In East Java, Mayor of Surabaya Bambang Dwi Hartono, who is also a cadre of PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle Faction), joined the protests rejecting the President’s policy.
Responding to the grave threat from the Interior Minister towards the Mayor of Surabaya, Bambang Dwi Hartono stated that he was chosen by the people of East Java therefore the Minister may go ahead and fire him.
The Mayor’s weighty decision is an example worthy of emulation: putting one’s position on the line for the good of many.
# John Pakage/westpapuamedia