Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Political ads removed from refugee shelters

A team comprising personnel from the police, military, Public Order Office and Transportation Ministry removed political advertisements from Merapi refugee shelters on Tuesday.

The recent Merapi eruption has not only forced more than 12,000 residents to take refuge at shelters lining the roads, but has also inspired political parties to post myriad banners, posters and flags informing the public of their assistance to Merapi victims.

“The advertisements and party symbols are illegal because they did not obtain permits,” Sleman Public Order Office chief Setiharno said Tuesday.

The illegal advertisements were confiscated to avoid any negative impact, Sleman Transportation Agency operational manager Imam Bajuri said.

“This is a disaster area and people are in a state of trauma and mourning. Don’t turn the area into a promotional or campaign arena!” Imam said.

The illegal ads violated a law that regulates the posting of advertisements and banners in Sleman regency, he said.

Officers were observed indiscriminately pulling down political banners at the Kepuharjo shelter and the disaster command post in Cangkringan, Sleman, including a large banner reading “Welcome to the Golkar Party, chairman Aburizal Bakrie”.

A number of signboards were also removed.

The team will continue to pull down the thousands of advertisements remaining on Wednesday.

“We are commoners, but have been commercially exploited,” said 70-year-old Wiyono of Jambu village in Kepuharjo. Wiyono is currently taking refuge at the Kepuharjo shelter.

The grandfather of five said he was pleased to see authorities removing the hundreds of party banners and advertisements. “Don’t disturb those in distress like us,” he said.

Many charity posts have also been set up following the eruption, often taking advantage of the situation to promote themselves by displaying such banners.

Dozens of charity posts near the Umbulharjo shelter and command post are now noticeably empty.

Previously there were banners reading “Merapi Charity Post” with the name of a particular group, but no charitable activities were being conducted

“Various groups have set up their own posts without coordination. After checking the posts, nothing is going on there,” Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X said a day before the ad removal operation.

Hamengkubuwono said political parties should not be promoting themselves or benefiting from the disaster, and that only the Indonesian flag should fly at shelters.

Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta | Wed, 11/03/2010 9:26 AM | The Archipelago

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