Below are links to a few more reports – in English – on the lead up to the January 28 protests in Indonesia.
As indicated in an earlier posting on this blog the main progressive alliance mobilising in Jakarta was FOR INDONESIA (Front Opposisi Rakyat Indonesia). From perusing the media it seems that different progressive alliances were formed and mobilised in other cities. For example, in Jogjakarta, it was the Peoples Challenge Alliance (ARM), in Medan (Sumatra) the Democracy Movement, in Makassar (Sulawesi) the Gateway to Revolution and in Ternate, the Peoples Cultural Network.
These are three links to reports in the lead up. Below also is a report from the English language TEMPO magazine, February 3-9, 2010
President’s Opponents – Opposing Voices
Tempo Magazine – February 3-9, 2010
President Yudhoyono’s opponents are not united. Two groups of demonstrators at
the State Palace fought for center stage.
Usman Hamid gave a speech from atop a vehicle carrying a loudspeaker system. The
Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons & Victims of Violence
(Kontras) was among a group of demonstrators from the Clean Indonesia Movement
(GIB) who were commemorating the first 100 days of President Yudhoyono’s (SBY)
administration in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta last week. At the
same time, from atop a different vehicle, only 7 meters from where Usman was
speaking, Sultoni and Vivi Widyawati, activists from the Indonesian People’s
Opposition Front (FOR Indonesia), also took turns giving fiery speeches.
Both groups were speaking on the same issue: President Yudhoyono’s government
had failed and must be replaced. “SBY and [Vice President] Boediono are
capitalist lackeys and have failed to bring prosperity to the people,” said
Thousands of supporters from the two groups were intermixed into a single crowd.
A short time later, a vehicle belonging to GIB moved forward and approached the
Palace gates. The FOR Indonesia protesters did not want to be outdone and a
vehicle full of red-colored paraphernalia also pushed its way forward.
Shouting the same slogans, the two groups’ loudspeakers competed noisily.
Realizing this was ineffective, Usman stopped speaking for a moment. He then
spoke with Lalu Hilman Afriandi (General Chairman of the National Student League
for Democracy, a group affiliated with GIB) and Effendi Ghazali (a University of
Indonesia communications department lecturer).
Usman waited for Sultoni to finish speaking then shouted, “Comrades, let us
close ranks, show them that we are united.” Sultoni did not want to be outdone.
“This vehicle is the [rally] command point!” he said repeatedly pointing to the
platform where he was speaking.
GIB and FOR Indonesia are two groups opposing the government. GIB includes a
scattering of “stars” such as Usman Hamid, Effendi Ghazali, Lalu Hilman,
President Abdurrahman Wahid’s former presidential spokesperson Adhie Massardi,
the Coordinator of Petition 28 and former People’s Democratic Party leader Haris
Rusly, and former Indonesian Forum for the Environment activist, Ray Rangkuti.
In addition, there is University of Indonesia Political & Social Science Faculty
lecturer Boni Hargens, who on that day was escorted by a number of bodyguards
wearing T-shirts with his photograph on them. Former Army Chief of Staff Tyasno
Sudarto and former House of Representatives (DPR) member Ali Mochtar Ngabalin
were also part of the group. The day before Thursday’s demonstration, GIB held a
press conference at the Muhammadiyah Central Board offices on Jl. Cikini Raya in
Central Jakarta. Haris said that there were at least 70 different groups in
FOR Indonesia does not have any “stars.” The motor behind the organization are
activists from the Working People’s Association, the Indonesian Trade Union
Congress Alliance, the Women’s Coalition and a number of trade unions
originating from Jakarta and the nearby satellite cities of Bogor, Tangerang,
Depok and Bekasi. There were also farmer and fishermen groups involved.
FOR Indonesia spokeswoman Vivi Widyawati said the aims of the FOR Indonesia and
GIB demonstrations were totally different. In the eyes of FOR Indonesia
activists, GIB members were elitist, just trying to impress others and they have
no experience organizing the masses. FOR Indonesia even accused some elite
elements in GIB of being “stowaways,” taking advantage of the movement opposing
Vivi asks why former DPR members and former government officials are appearing
on the stage at demonstrations. According to Vivi, when they were in power they
did the same things as Yudhoyono. “They are elitist, we are the real
opposition,” said Vivi.
There are also other groups outside of GIB and FOR Indonesia opposing Yudhoyono.
They include, among others, the People’s Bastion of Democracy (Bendera)—a group
which once publicly declared that funds from the Bank Century bailout ended up
in the pockets of President Yudhoyono’s family and relatives. Bendera also once
bragged that they had information about Bank Century money being transported in
Bendera did not take part in the demonstrations in front of the State Palace.
They chose instead to set up a small stage at the former Indonesian Democratic
Party of Struggle offices on Jl. Diponegoro in Menteng, Central Jakarta. In
addition to putting up banners and posters, they also burnt photographs of
Yudhoyono, Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Two days
earlier, Bendera held a protest in front of the DPR.
One of the student groups that has not joined any of these large groups is the
Cipayung Club, a group that brings together the Islamic Students Association,
Indonesian Islamic Students Movement, Indonesian National Students Movement,
Indonesian Christian Students Movement, and the Indonesian Association of
Catholic Students. The other student group that is not under the umbrella of a
larger organization is the Student Executive Councils in Jakarta and surrounding
Haris admits that forces opposing President Yudhoyono are not united. But this
is just a matter of coordination and egoism on the part of groups that want to
maintain their own identity.
Nevertheless, said Haris, all of the groups share the same opinion: that the
Yudhoyono administration has failed. They also feel that Yudhoyono and Boediono
are neoliberal agents and have to be removed by force. So, said Haris, the
demonstrations on Thursday last week were a crystallization of a revolution
aiming to replace the Yudhoyono administration. “Admittedly it’s not like 1998
yet, but we are continuing to consolidate,” he said referring to the mass
protests that led to former President Suharto’s resignation.