Indonesians protest at Australia war memorial over spying

Indonesians protest at Australia war memorial over spying
Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in front of the Australian embassy in Jakarta

JAKARTA - Hundreds of Indonesians protested at an Australian war memorial on Borneo island Wednesday, in the latest show of anger over allegations of spying that have sparked a diplomatic crisis.

The continued public fury came despite an easing of tensions between the leaders of Australia and Indonesia, who have pledged to rebuild ties following the worst breakdown in relations for years.

In Balikpapan on Borneo, some 500 demonstrators from the nationalist Red and White Front expressed outrage at the claims Australian spies targeted the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and ministers in 2009.

Dressed in military-style uniforms, the protesters gathered at an Australian World War II memorial, calling for a boycott of Australian products and an end to bilateral cooperation.

Australian troops fought near Balikpapan against Japanese forces during the war.

"We think the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been very hypocritical. He thinks it's OK to spy on Indonesia but do business with us," group spokesman Rona Siregar told AFP.

"We want to tell Australia we won't be harassed and we want Abbott to apologise. Tapping the president's phone is not an act of friendship or cooperation."

The demonstration followed several others outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta in the past two weeks, during which demonstrators threw eggs and tomatoes at the mission and defaced its facade with spray paint.

Jakarta reacted furiously to the spying allegations, halting cooperation on military exercises and in the key area of people-smuggling, and recalling its ambassador from Canberra.

The claims first surfaced in Australian media reports, which were based on documents leaked by US intelligence fugitive Edward Snowden.

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