Sun, 14 Oct 2001

Police remain on the alert

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After experiencing anti-U.S. demonstrations for five consecutive days, the city was quiet on Saturday, with no protesters appearing on the streets or in front of the U.S. Embassy on Jl. Medan Merdeka in Central Jakarta.

The chairman of the Indonesian Islamic Youth Movement (GPII), Askodar, said the group had no plans to stage any protests on Saturday, but he declined to provide a reason. He also said there were no definite plans yet for the group's next action.

"I don't have any information about the next demonstration as we will meet to discuss it on Monday," he told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

GPII has been actively involved in demonstrations to protest the U.S. strikes against Afghanistan.

Although there was no protesters, the road in front of the U.S. Embassy remained closed, while hundreds of police officers were deployed in the area.

"We have to be here all the time to anticipate any unexpected incidents," a policeman said.

Most of the officers rested inside tents around the National Monument, near the embassy, during the day.

Some spent their time talking while others were busy doing crossword puzzles.

And when young women passed by, one or two of the officers would whistle or shout cewek! (girl!).

Such scenes were in contrast to what they had experienced over the previous five days.

"We guard this place night and day. We sleep, eat and bathe here," said Second Insp. Manurung, who has a child.

Asked if he missed his family, he said: "I am used to leaving them for a period of days."

Meals are not a problem for the officers. They eat three times a day. The menu does not vary much, consisting of rice, vegetables and an egg or tahu (soybean cake) or tempe (tempeh). Sometimes, they buy snacks from food stalls, which are plentiful in the area.

According to Manurung, each of the officers receives pocket money of a little less than Rp 10,000 per day, which he described as "not bad".

They bathe at the several mobile public toilets belonging to the city administration that are parked in the area.

Manurung's colleague, Yadi, said that they could only bathe once a day, at the most.

"Most of us brought only one extra uniform so there might be a smell," he laughed, adding that it was not such a big deal for the men.

Yadi said he did not know when he could leave the site as he had to remain there until the demonstrations were over. He did not expect that to be soon as he had heard that there would be another rally on Monday.