By Katarina Pujiastuti
March 1, 2008 -- Beginning last Monday, the National Student League for Democracy (LMND) held two-day demonstrations in Jakarta to campaign for the nationalisation of oil, gas and mining industries. On the first day, about 150 students representing several campuses in Java and Sumatra protested against ExxonMobil in front of the commercial building that houses its headquarters.
The richest energy company was targeted because it recently attacked Chavez's anti-imperialist government by taking legal action to freeze the assets of the Venezuelan state's oil company, PDVSA. ``Therefore, LMND made a good decision in protesting in front of Exxon's headquarters, as the company rightly symbolises foreign corporation in the extractive sector'', said Rudi Hartono, an LMND leader.
ExxonMobil is just one of the dozens of foreign companies that exploit 92% of Indonesia's hydrocarbon and mineral wealth. Central Java LMND's chairperson, Maman, said that "It is so unjust that ExxonMobil gained US$40.6 billion yearly profit while almost 3 billion people in the world live in poverty and at least 25,600
children die each day from malnutrition.''
Some protesters carried placards with pictures of [Cuba's Fidel, Venezuela's President Chavez and Bolivia's President Evo Morales, along with Indonesia's former left nationalist President, Sukarno, with the slogan ``Nationalise oil, gas, and mining industries for free and quality education!''
LMND's General Chairperson Lalu Hilman Afriandi mentioned in his speech that ``millions of Indonesian school-age children have dropped out due to lack of funds; the Indonesian poor are more and more denied
access to affordable education.''
The protest was ended by reading the ``proclamation of national liberation'', an assertion to multinationals to respect and acknowledge national sovereignty as well as a declaration of genuine political-economic independence modeled on the country's anti-colonial ``proclamation of independence'' of 1945.
The next day, 130 LMND activists marched to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) to protest the government's continuing submission to the interests of multinationals
Furthermore, a range of legislation has opened the door for more plundering of the country's wealth by foreign interests.The Hydrocarbon Law (2001), for instance, stripped bare the state's sovereignty on the management of hydrocarbon compared to the earlier legislation of the 1960s, therefore contradicting Article 33 of the constitution that states that natural resources ``shall be controlled by the state and shall be used for the greatest welfare of the people''.
Some representatives of LMND's national executive entered the ministry's office to deliver an open letter demanding the revocation of such legislation; and the restructuring of all oil, gas, and mining deals
with foreign companies on the basis of:
1. The fulfillment of domestic energy needs
2. Increase of state ownership (divest shares belonging to foreign companies)
3. Increase of state revenue by raising the state's royalties and cutting cost recovery value.
The purpose of these demands is to educate that Indonesia must immediately ``change its course'' to reject neocolonialism and imperialism.
``This is just a prelude of the people's movement to nationalise the extractive industries", said the the action coordinator. ``LMND will continue to protest foreign companies' offices in every region.''
Nationalisation is one of the three main programs of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas), the political party that LMND built with other organisations to contest in the 2009 election; cancellation of foreign debt and national industrialisation constitute the second and third programs.
According to Papernas' monthly publication, Berdikari (http://papernas.org/berdikari) -- a popular acronym meaning self-sufficiency, coined by Sukarno -- the campaign for the three main programs (nicknamed the Three Banners (Tripanji) is politically aimed at polarising the political currents leading to the election -- showing them to be pro or anti foreign oppression.
``The Parliament has just introduced one of the toughest electoral verification systems in the world to strengthen the position of the big ruling parties and to establish two-party democracy by excluding the
left'', explained Katarina Pujiastuti, Papernas' International Officer.
``Despite these immense obstacles and several attacks from militarily organised 'anti-communist' right-wing groups and thugs'', she continued. ``Papernas is committed to intervening in the election to offer
alternatives to the people and to rally against the neo-colonialism and imperialism that have caused profound crises in people's livelihood.''
Also on February 25 about 100 students from LMND North Moluccas, together with several other organisations (GAMHAS Ternate, LISMI Ternate, and SLAVERY University Hairun), carried out a street demonstration in the heart of the Ternate City. The action lasted four hours and its route went pass the offices of the Governor of the North Moluccas, Gedung DPRD North Moluccas, and the offices Radio Republic of Indonesia.
Apart from demanding the nationalisation of foreign mining (such as P.T. Nusa Halmahera Minerals) to pay for free education, the students demanded the rejection of the BHP Bill, now before parliament; the revision of Sisdiknas UU 2003; higher prices for local products such as cloves, nutmeg, chocolate and copra; higher workers' pay; lower fuel and oil prices; along with subsidies for poor fisherfolk.
LMND also organised a protest of 300 students and poor farmers around the ``Nationalise the foreign mining companies'' in Maubere, Flores, on February 25.
On February 29, Papernas Sulteng carried out an action around the demand of the ``Nationalisation of foreign mining is a road out of the energy crisis and the domestic industry''. The action that was held in the centre of the Palu City (the Hasanuddin Roundabout) with drew about 40 people and also focussed on the
phenomenon of blackouts and the scarcity of fuel oil in the Palu City. DPD-Papernas Sulteng considered that the two crises were a result of the government's lack of seriousness in constructing the national industry.
Apart from being filled up by political speeches from various supporting mass organisations of Papernas, the action was livened up by the appearance happening art from students from the Palu City LMND. Around
25 students from the LMND Labuhan Batu, again took to the streets on March 3 and marched to the
offices of the DPRD Ii Labuhan Batu.
They took to the streets to express the demand for the nationalisation of the foreign mining industry to pay for free education and the resolution of problems of the campus in Labuhan Batu.
Papernas and its affiliates will be mobilising around this demand right through March 2008.
PAPERNAS THE NATIONAL LIBERATION PARTY OF UNITY Jln. Tebet Dalam IIG
No. 1, Jakarta Selatan, 12820. Telp/Fax: 021-8354513. Email:
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Indonesia, 10 March 2008
Today in the East Indonesian island-town of Ternate, hundreds of students united as the Coalition for Women's Concerns clashed with police in front of the North Mollucas Regional Assembly (DPRD) during a protest to demand the nationalisation of mining companies operating in the area.
Five students were wounded, two of whom were badly injured and had to be taken to the hospital. The clash started when police prevented some students from meeting with members of North Mollucas Regional Assembly. The situation cooled down after Ternate's Police Chief came to the location. The coalition, initiated by the National Students' League for Democracy (LMND), also demanded that the government reduce prices of basic goods.
At the end of the protest they also demanded that the police Chief resign. Meanwhile, that same day in the city of Makassar - located at the southern tip of Indonesia's K-shaped island, Sulawesi - dozens of students from LMND carried out a protest in front of PT Inco's office to demand nationalisation of oil, gas, and mining companies in Indonesia. More than sixty percent of PT Inco's shares are owned by the world's second biggest nickel-producer, Canada-based Vale Inco; about 20 percent, owned by several Japanese companies; and the rest, sold in the Stock Exchange.
PT Inco's operational plant in Sorowako, South Sulawesi, is notorious for creating land and water pollution, ecosystem damage, carrying out forced eviction, and therefore causing impoverishment and health problems among the local communities. Students asked permission from security personnel to enter the company's office but were refused. In their statement, they demanded that the government have the courage to nationalise the company or at least to renegotiate the contract of work to bring more benefit to the people of South Sulawesi that in turn can be used to fund development, particularly education.
Three decades since the start of its commercial production, PT Inco has not only given few royalties to the Indonesian government, but has also broken promises of free health care, education, electricity, clean water services and priority in employment.
PAPERNAS THE NATIONAL LIBERATION PARTY OF UNITY
Jln. Tebet Dalam IIG No. 1, Jakarta Selatan, 12820. Telp/Fax: 021-8354513.
In the third demonstration outside Exxon-Mobil's Jakarta offices this year on March March 12, 2008, workers and their families organised by the militant trade union federation, the National Front for Indonesian Workers’ Struggle (FNPBI), an affiliate of PAPERNAS (the National Liberation Party of Unity) queued up with empty bottles and jerry cans demanding the nationalisation of the foreign-owned mining and oil industry. The placard in the picture above says: "Price of oil rises, Exxon profits, Bad luck for the people!"
FNPBI General Secretary Dominggus Oktavianus addressing the protest.
Indonesia's poor blame transnationals and government for impoverishing the nation
By Katarina Pujiastuti
April 24, 2008 -- Hundreds of people organised through the Indonesian Poor People's Union (SRMI) have recently carried out protests at offices of foreign-owned oil and mining companies to denounce various government's anti-poor policies resulting from foreign domination of the country's natural wealth. SRMI organises among the millions of Indonesians who are forced to live in squalid urban poor shanty towns in every city in the country.
1100 urban poor marched on the Canadian-owned mining company PT Inco in Makassar on April 22, 2008. Credit: Papernas/Berdikari
In Makassar, South Sulawesi, hundreds of SRMI members, many of whom were lower class housewives with their small children, joined a demonstration on April 22 in front of the giant nickel producer, Inco-Vale, subsidiary office to protest government's policy of substituting kerosene for natural gas.
They carried empty containers and banners written with slogans like "Stop Abusing The Poor", "Take Control Over Oil and Reject Substituting Kerosene for Gas", "Without Kerosene The People Suffer", "Fuel Price Hike Equals Suffering People".
Kerosene is a cheap oil derivative widely used by the poor mostly for cooking and the government has tried to keep its price low despite the constantly increasing fuel price as an effort to dampen people's discontent.
After a couple of speeches condemning the policy, protesters marched for half a kilometer to a Fuel Distribution Unit installation owned by the state's oil company, Pertamina.
Pertamina's representative came out to tell the crowd that the plan to substitute kerosene for natural gas in South Sulawesi was postponed until the beginning of 2009.
On April 23, about 500 people from SRMI held a protest in front of ExxonMobil headquarter in the capital, Jakarta, condemning the transnational as an exploiter of the country's economy and natural wealth and for draining the state resource needed for subsidizing social services.
They called upon the government to nationalise foreign-owned extraction industry to provide universal health and education services as well as cheap basic goods.
"The government has sold out its natural wealth to the United States, they lied to the poor. They said the poor will get quality education and cheap basic goods, but Susilo Bambang (President) and Jusuf Kalla (VP) lied to us," said Soleh, the protest leader.
North Sumatran students and peasants in solidarity with urban poor
In Siantar, North Sumatra, the Siantar Hotel management carried out a forcible eviction against peddlers by placing huge stones on the place where they use to sell food to make their living. This arbitrary move was answered by a protest on April 21, involving hundreds of street peddlers supported by students groups and peasants organisation at the Siantar Municipal and Parliament.
They demanded government's responsibility to protect the peddlers from unjust act carried against them and threatened to kick the mayor out of office if he does not respond to peddlers' grievance.
Eventually, representatives of the peddlers were received by the mayor who then promised to take firm measure against the hotel management's unjustified act.
[Katarina Pujiastuti is International Officer for the National Liberation Party of Unity (PAPERNAS) in Indoneisa.]
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On April 23, the Indonesian Union of the Poor (Serekat Rakyat Miskin Indonesia - SRMI), an affiliate of PAPERNAS (the National Liberation Party of Unity) mobilised 1500 in front of the Jakarta offices of Exxon Mobil.