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Leftist Festival Relocated After Permit Failure, Protests

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Jakarta. A leftist festival dubbed “Belok Kiri Festival” or “Turn Left Festival,” scheduled to start last weekend in Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta, has been relocated to the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation’s office following protests and lack of permit.

The festival was slated to take place at Galeri Cipta II, Taman Ismail Marzuki from Saturday (27/02) through March 5, but police refused to issue a permit for the event following protests from several mass organizations, including  the Homeland Youth Devotee (Pecat), Indonesia Islamic Youth Movement (GPII), Indonesian Islamic Student (PII), Indonesian Islamic Youth Legal Aid and Jakarta Activist Front (Froaja).

The groups accused festival organizers of promoting the spirit and ideas of communism and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

Police said they chose not to issue the permit for safety reasons.

Indraswari Agnes, secretary general of Belok Kiri Festival, said the event was relocated to the headquarters of the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) on Jalan Diponegoro, Central Jakarta, and postponed to the coming weekend.

“Actually, we have sent a notification letter to the Menteng Police about the event and got a police stamp on that, but the management of Taman Ismail Marzuki wanted a legal permit – which is uncommon for such an event,” Agnes told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.

“We will probably continue the festival next Saturday and Sunday at the LBH office with a discussion. We will release an official announcement later,” she added.

The eight-day festival was to include an array of activities, including a dramatic reading, picture workshop, book discussions, film screenings, cultural discussions, a comic workshop and music concert.

In an official statement, organizers of Belok Kiri Festival called the cancellation an effort to restrain people’s freedom of speech and expression.

“The activities of Belok Kiri Festival are certainly far from an attempt to divide the nation, as concerned by several parties. Moreover, the event aimed to invite all people to critically re-read the history of Indonesia and reveal past atrocities that were covered up by the interests of the New Order,” organizers said.

Anti-communists sentiments surfaced in Indonesia after a military-backed purge against the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and its suspected sympathizers in 1965-66 killed between 500,000 to one million suspected Communists and paved the way for the rise of former president Suharto’s New Order regime.

The sentiment continues despite the strongman’s fall in 1998, thanks to decades of anti-communist propaganda. Efforts to uncover the truth behind the killings have been met with great resistance.

Communism is still banned in the country.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/leftist-festival-relocated-permit-failure-protests/

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