After repeatedly denying responsibility, Gov Anies admits to permitting anti-Ahok protest anniversary at Monas

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan speaking to members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) during his campaign on Jan 2, 2017. FPI leader Rizieq Shihab is sitting to his right. Photo: Dokumentasi Tim Anies Baswedan

This Saturday, will be the one year anniversary of the massive politically-charged December 2 protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama (euphemistically called the 212 “Action in Defense of Islam”), which many would argue ensured Ahok’s election loss and subsequent jailing for blasphemy. And Ahok’s victorious political rival, current Jakarta Anies Baswedan, has finally admitted to giving the 212 “alumni” permission to hold their grand anniversary event at the National Monument (Monas).

Anies has been dodging reporters’ questions about the anti-Ahok anniversary event for some time now and on multiple occasions has denied that he had any responsibility for permitting the event to take place on the highly symbolic grounds of Monas.

On Monday, when asked if he had given his permission for the event to take place at the park surrounding the national landmark, he tersely responded, “That is not my business”.

Yesterday, when asked again about whether the anti-Ahok protest anniversary had been given permission to take place at Monas, he again said that it was not his responsibility.

“That’s not my business, that’s under the authority of the police,” he said as quoted by Tempo.

But today, when pressed yet again, he finally acknowledged that he himself had given his permission for the 212 reunion to take place at Monas and that he had received a letter of request to approve it one week ago.

“The letter was entered about a week ago. It was accepted. I said it was allowed, in accordance with the new regulation,” Anies said at City Hall today as quoted by Detik.

The new regulation Anies was referring to was his overturning of a ban on religious events from taking place at Monas set out by the previous administration (an overturn for which he was thanked for by the 212 alumni).

As it turns out, the Department of Tourism and Culture sent the letter asking for Anies’ approval last week and he signed off on it on November 24.

In light of that, you can judge for yourself whether the governor spoke truthfully when asked about the event by reporters earlier this week.

At any rate, it seem clear that Anies doesn’t want to associate himself with the 212 anniversary event, as he has long denied accusations that he courted the support of Islamist hardliners in his attempts to win the governorship .

But now that he’s finally admitted to allowing the anti-Ahok anniversary event to take place at Monas, the question is whether he will show his face, as the 212 alums have repeatedly said that both he and Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno have been invited.

Today when he was asked by reports, he simply said, “I don’t know yet.”

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