Thursday, March 29, 2012

Another day, another protest

There have been a series of protests across Indonesia over the past week or so, all surrounding the government's plan to reduce the heavy transportation fuel subsidy currently in place, in effect raising fuel prices across the archipelago starting on April 1.  On Tuesday the protests in Jakarta were supposed to be massive, but ended up being much smaller than anticipated.  Things did get violent between students and police- rubber bullets and tear gas, I understand- but the size of the crowd was dampened by a torrential downpour.  Also, apparently the police were using female police officers as a tactic to keep the crowd in control??  Below is a view of some of the protesters from above, gathering at the beginning of their march...

The rallys were also not so peaceful elsewhere in Indonesia, unfortunately- it seems like things got out of hand on both sides, despite claims from the police that things were "handled."

I'm not sure who's right in this situation: on one hand there really shouldn't be a fuel subsidy making gas and diesel artificially cheap in Indonesia, incentivizing people to drive everywhere, causing major traffic problems, but on the other hand, people have no other options for getting where they need to go since the public transportation options are pretty weak: overcrowded trains and buses that break down regularly, no subway system to speak of...

Update:  There were more protests all week, some violent, some not, culminating in the government ultimately deciding to postpone the decision about the fuel subsidy removal for 6 months

Here are photos of Friday's noontime march towards the government buildings:



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