Police in Jakarta arrested 94 people in connection with yesterday’s student protests in the capital, which began peacefully outside the House of Parliament (DPR) building but descended into chaos towards the evening.
Those who were arrested were accused of inciting violent riots in several parts of Jakarta, which saw public property vandalized and destroyed, particularly late in the evening.
“We are interrogating them [to find out] where they’re from, whether they’re actually students, members of the public or other parties — we’re looking into it,” Jakarta Police Chief Gatot Eddy said today, as quoted by Kumparan.
One of the most chaotic scenes unfolded late last night in Slipi, West Jakarta, where rioters set fire to a traffic police post using molotov cocktails. Police say they have arrested 17 and have confiscated from them molotov cocktails, rocks and firecrackers believed to be intended for use as weapons to sow unrest.
Hengki added that the police noticed similarities between yesterday’s arrests and those who were arrested during the post-election riots in May, in that there may be certain actors taking advantage of mass protests to sow further unrest in the country.
In major cities across Indonesia on Monday and Tuesday, large scale demonstrations led by thousands of university students erupted in protest against the government over a number of major issues. Contrary to what many western media outlets might have led you to believe, these protests are not just over a controversial revision to the criminal code (RKUHP) that would make sex outside of marriage illegal (which is concerning, but just one part of why RKUHP has been so strongly criticized) but also a recently passed law weakening the authority of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the massive haze fires burning in Sumatra and Borneo, and other pressing issues related to government malfeasance.
In Jakarta yesterday, thousands of students — many of them reportedly coming from outside the capital — gathered outside the DPR building in what began as a peaceful protest. Towards the evening, the protesters were ordered to disperse and pushed back by riot police with tear gas and water canons, resulting in several instances of violent riots breaking out in some areas of the city.
Based on data gathered this morning, 232 people — consisting mostly of students and some police officers and journalists — were reportedly injured during the two days of protests throughout Indonesia, 88 of them in Jakarta. The Jakarta Provincial Government has ordered that hospitals provide free treatment to those injured in the capital.
The protesters’ efforts have not been in vain, as the DPR has indefinitely delayed the passage of the RKUHP bill and other problematic bills amid increasing public pressure and an official order by President Joko Widodo. However, several other pressing issues, including the new law that critics say could make the KPK toothless in Indonesia’s ongoing battle against endemic corruption, remain unaddressed and it remains to be seen if there will be further student protests in the coming days.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!