Disorder broke after crowd refused to leave the premises.

  13 January 2017 14:24

A rally involving hundreds of university students was held in Jakarta on Thursday. Starting at around 10 a.m. the students who called themselves “Alliance of Indonesian Students Unions”, walked from Arjuna Wiwaha Statue (also known as Patung Kuda) to the State Palace, located less than three kilometers away.

The alliance expressed their objection to the government's decision to increase the prices of fuel, electricity, and licensing fees earlier this year.

“Prices are going up this early in 2017. It shows the government’s real prespect and quality: they are extorting the people! This regime is playing around, making the people unhappy,” said Bagus Tito Wibisono, coordinator of the group, in a call to action statement published on their website. "Students, take to the streets and create a street parliament today, if the real one is incapable of performing their mandate."

More than 20 university student unions were involved in the rally, including the Bogor Agricultural Institute, Bogor’s Universitas Juanda, Depok’s STIE Hidayatullah, and Universitas Yarsi. Similar rallies were also held in 19 cities across Indonesia, from Padang, Jambi, Bandung, to Gorontalo and Merauke.

Disorder broke after the crowd refused to disband at 06.00 p.m. They were granted a one-hour extension, but lingered until 08.00 p.m., demanding to meet with President Joko Widodo in person. The crowd also reportedly pushed to approach the palace, resulting in tension with the police, who had put water cannons on standby.

Later on, presidential staff member Teten Masduki met with representatives of the alliance and received a note of understanding.

Below are the points he addressed:

1. Government to guarantee there will be no shortage of subsidized fuel

2. Government to guarantee the effect of non-subsidized fuel price hike will not affect the price of staple goods

3. Government to guarantee electricity price hike is intended for people’s benefit and subsidy will be given only to the deserving parties

4. Government to guarantee the increase in licensing fees will improve the quality of the police force's services

The rally was widely criticized, especially on social media. Twitter user Wieldan Ariefian reminded the alliance that their message has been answered by the government through fact sheets even before the rally was planned.

While another user questioned what the rally was protesting against.

 During a televised report, representatives from the alliance vowed to hold another rally by the end January.


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