An Indonesian worker cleans a door of a closed retail market due to the political situation in Jakarta on Thursday. – AFP
BY Azlan Othman
BRUNEIAN expatriates in Jakarta said they are safe and well, following recent clashes between security forces and protesters angry over the outcome of last month’s election which handed Indonesian President Joko Widodo a second term.
One expatriate, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Bulletin on Thursday that he was a little worried, “as we are not sure where the protestors will be demonstrating next”.
Another said, “It’s safe, but a little disruptive in Jakarta, as public transport and communications have been affected. The Brimob (Mobile Brigade Corps) Hostel that came under attack is located in the north of Jakarta. But security has been heightened now at all malls and hotels, and business goes on as normal.”
Indonesian journalist Aditya told the Bulletin that a riot occurred during the last few days, “but the situation calmed down on Thursday. It occurred in a tiny part of Jakarta, especially in the area around the elections supervision agency building”.
“During the first wave of protests, the crowd peacefully filed their objection to the election results, without any clashes occurring. But then, the riot broke out in several places. People tend to get easily provoked by fake news distributed through social media.
“Now the government has blocked and limited access to sending photos or videos through social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram,” she said.
News agencies said the streets of central Jakarta on Thursday were calm, after a second night of clashes between security forces and protesters angry over the outcome of last month’s election which handed Indonesian President Joko Widodo a second term.
The number of protesters thinned as the night wore on, and police spokesman Dedi Praseyto said the last remaining protesters had dispersed by 7am.
Roads were quiet on Wednesday, as office workers stayed away from the city centre, were abuzz with rush-hour traffic on Thursday morning.
All but one of the city’s MRT stations were open and government workers in orange overalls swept debris off the streets.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said seven people were killed in the first night of rioting, which was concentrated in the sprawling textile market neighbourhood of Tanah Abang.
State news agency Antara reported that three hospitals had treated more than 350 people for injuries.
The unrest followed an announcement by the General Election Commission confirming that Widodo had beaten his challenger, former general Prabowo Subianto, in the April 17 polls.
Widodo won more than 85 million of the 154 million votes cast, but Prabowo alleged “massive cheating and irregularities”, and refused to concede defeat.
The election supervisory agency has said there was no evidence of systematic cheating, and independent observers have said that the poll was free and fair.
A crowd of protesters swelled outside the supervisory agency’s headquarters on Wednesday, some carrying wooden poles and some with toothpaste smeared around their eyes to mitigate the effects of tear gas.
Many left peacefully, but as night fell, the remaining protestors hurled firecrackers and other objects at officers, and set fires as they tried to breach barbed wire separating them from the police.
The Indonesian police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.
Medics were seen treating dozens of protesters affected by tear gas, and using oxygen to revive some who had passed out.
In a news conference on Wednesday, National Police spokesman Muhamad Iqbal said many of the protesters appeared to have come from outside Jakarta, as police found envelopes containing money on some of the people they searched.
“This is not a spontaneous incident, this is something by design,” he said. “There are indications that the mobs are paid and bent on causing chaos.”
Prabowo, in a video posted on his Twitter account before midnight on Wednesday, urged his supporters to leave peacefully.
“I beg you to return to your homes to rest, avoid any actions that would break the law,” he said.
Prabowo’s political party Gerindra complained that the authorities were trying to pin blame for the riots on him.”We saw efforts to herd public opinion so that the peaceful protest would look like disturbing acts, with an end goal of discrediting Prabowo,” Gerindra said on Twitter.
Meanwhile Bernama reported that the riots in Jakarta, which have been linked to protests over the results of the Indonesian Presidential Election, have reportedly spread to Pontianak, Kalimantan.
According to local media reports, rioters torched two police posts in Kota Pontianak on Wednesday.
As of on Thursday, 38 rioters have been detained, and the situation has been brought under control.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin