Jakarta. Police in the capital broke up an event on Tuesday run by some of Indonesia's better-known activists, highlighting what they argued was a "resurrection of the New Order."
An event titled "The 98 Movement to Refuse the Resurrection of the New Order" was to be held at the youth hall at the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
"New Order" was the term strongman Suharto used to refer to his regime. He ruled from 1966 until 1998, when he fell from power as activists took to the streets and a period known as "reformasi" began.
Erwin Usman, a spokesman of Activist 98, an organization consisting of reformasi activists, said the organizing committee had paid the building management to use the facility and sought the appropriate permit.
"We have a receipt saying we paid Rp 7 million [$600] on June 19 to rent the building," Erwin said.
On Monday night, however, Erwin said a ministry official informed him that the event permit had been revoked. He was told of the change while the organization was setting up the event, apparently on the grounds that the ministry had received several complaints via text message.
"We asked to meet with the youth and sports minister Roy Suryo, who was attending an event in the same location," Erwin said. "He was willing to meet us, but his assistant was very protective."
The organizing committee then met with a ministry spokesman, Gatot Sulistiantoro Dewa Broto, as well as representatives of the building's management.
'We showed them the receipt and the permit letter and they finally allowed us to hold the event on Tuesday," Erwin said.
However, when the organizing committee came to the location at 7 a.m. the gate was locked and police had been deployed to stop people from entering the venue.
Hundreds of activists demonstrated following the permit revocation.
Gatot was quoted by Inodnesian news portal Viva.co.id saying that the Ministry had revoked the permit because the event was political in nature.
"We received information that the event might be political — therefore we asked the police to cancel the permit," he said.
Tanah Abang Police chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Anom Anom Setyaji, said that nearly 300 police officers had been deployed to secure the location and prevent activists from entering the venue.
"They do have a permit but it deviated from the agreement," he said. "The ministry objected and therefore the permit must be revoked."