Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to control unruly crowds, Indonesian style

Some 33,000 police and military officers have been deployed nationwide, with some saying they would stop at nothing to maintain order, but thousands took to the country’s streets on Tuesday anyway to protest the proposed fuel price hike.

But it was music rather than menace that proved the more effective tactic for dispersing demonstrators in East Java.

The Madiun district Regional Representatives Council (DPRD) put on a live dangdut and reog ponogoro (traditional Javanese lion dance) show ahead of the massive demonstration being staged there by the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Just minutes after the protest’s organizer took the microphone to begin his rally speech, a majority of the protesters began turning their attention instead to the live show.

“Even though some of the protesters are busy dancing and enjoying the entertainment provided, deep down we are all still rejecting the central government’s plan to raise the [subsidized] fuel prices in April,” said Subari, the protest’s coordinator and secretary of the local PDI-P branch.

The protest lasted two hours, with most of the demonstrators disbanding by noon - Jakarta Globe