Jakarta. Hundreds of anticommunist demonstrators surrounded the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, or YLBHI, office in Central Jakarta on Sunday night (17/09) and early Monday morning, to protest a meeting taking place inside the building.
Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Argo Yuwono said the incident began when mobs surrounded the YLBHI office to protest what demonstrators believed to be a seminar on the now-banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
"YLBHI did not hold the event. There was only meeting activity and chatting, but [the demonstrators] thought there was a seminar about the history of 1965," Argo said in Jakarta on Monday (18/09).
Argo said police mediated with the demonstrators and told them no seminars related to PKI were taking place inside the YLBHI building.
Argo added that the Foundation only held an art event, titled, "Asik Asik Aksi: Indonesia Darurat" [Act and Have Fun: Our Democracy is in Danger].
"The police have told the mobs, but they do not want to listen to us. We kept trying to peacefully disband them, but in fact, a clash occurred," he said.
Argo added that clashes between demonstrators and police officers occurred nearby the YLBHI office, where protesters threw stones and other objects towards police officers, damaging some vehicles. Police then fire tear gas to disperse the crowd. Five officers were reportedly injured in the incident.
"There are five police officers who are seriously injured. One middle-ranked officer has been wounded from a thrown stone," he added. "There are 22 people who have been detained and are currently under investigation."
YLBHI expressed gratitude towards the police who stood guard outside the Foundation's building throughout Sunday night and Monday morning.
According to an official statement from YLBHI, the demonstration occurred due to the spreading of false news about a seminar on the PKI. "YLBHI expresses gratitude for the police response and protection tonight and for explaining to the crowd about the actual event."
"There was no discussion or congress on communism. The event that we held was purely an historical discussion and art performance," said Yunita, who works at YLBHI.
Central Jakarta Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Suyudi Aria Seto also emphasized that there was no discussion on the rise of the PKI or communism, but will investigate any seminars on the subject if they are found to take place.
"Let those inside go home, we will take care of this problem. We must obey the law," he told the crowd.
The crowd dispersed at around 02.00 a.m. and those stuck inside the YLBHI were allowed to leave.