Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The violent protests by students and workers have forced the Yudhoyono government to cancel the increase in the price of petrol and diesel announced last March 28. The increase, amounting to 33%, would have gone into effect tomorrow. The government had decided on the maneuver without the approval of parliament. Today, the House also urged the government to reduce fuel prices within the next six months.
Since the beginning of the year, the cost of gasoline and diesel has increased by 15%, due to the fluctuations of oil prices on the international markets. The rising price of fuel is affecting the cost of essential goods and endangering the lives of millions of people who survive on a few dollars a day.
Yesterday, more than 15,000 students and workers occupied the center of Jakarta, stopping government offices from opening and, as well as local and foreign businesses. The protesters reacted violently to the police's attempts to evict them. Dozens of officers were injured. In the commercial area of the city, demonstrators burned cars and shops. Violent protests also occurred in the rest of the province of Jakarta. The protests were also attended by political leaders of the 13 largest districts in the region of Java. Among them was also Rudyatmo Xavier Hadi, the Catholic Vice-Mayor of Solo. Governors and mayors are taking to the streets, despite the warnings of Gamawan Fauzi, the interior minister, who in recent days has threatened severe penalties for all politicians showing solidarity with the protests.