Indonesian students protest rising fuel prices – Winnipeg Free Press
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Hundreds of students gathered in the Indonesian capital on Thursday to protest the government’s sharp hike in fuel prices.
The protesters, from several student organizations, gathered at the National Monument in Jakarta, which commemorates Indonesia’s struggle for independence. “We reject fuel price hikes,” read one of their banners.
The government raised fuel prices by around 30% on Saturday after cutting some of the costly subsidies that have helped control inflation in the country. The increase – the first in eight years – took the price of gasoline from 51 cents to 67 cents per liter and diesel fuel from 35 cents to 46 cents.
Demonstrations have taken place in several major cities since Monday by students, workers, farmers, fishermen and teachers.
Workers are planning more rallies and considering a nationwide strike unless the increase is reversed, Indonesian Confederation of Trade Union President Said Iqbal said on Tuesday.
President Joko Widodo said the government was forced to raise fuel prices because the country’s energy subsidies had tripled this year to 502 trillion rupees ($34 billion) due to rising prices world oil and gas.
The government has been subsidizing fuel for decades in Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 270 million people.
Rising fuel prices are a politically sensitive issue that could trigger larger price increases. In 1998, a rise in fuel prices sparked riots that helped topple longtime dictator Suharto.