JAKARTA - About 500 Indonesian Muslims took to the streets of the capital to demand the government bring down food prices after media reports of cases of starvation.
The protesters, from the Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, marched through Jakarta's main streets to the presidential palace, chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great).
The Surya newspaper said a schoolboy in East Java, who lived with his elderly grandmother in Magetan district, hanged himself in February because he could not bear the pain of starvation. Neighbors said the family was very poor.
Detik.co, news Web site earlier this month reported that a pregnant woman who lived in a rented room with her three children died because she had not eaten for three days.
"People have died of hunger, babies are suffering from severe malnutrition because they can't get proper treatment," Hizbut Tahrir spokesman, Muhammad Ismail Yusanto, told Reuters Television.
"How is it possible that in an agricultural nation that has been independent for more than 60 years, many people have died of hunger?"
Soaring global prices of rice and other staples are hitting Asia's poorest citizens.