Cars were burned by rioters at a police dormitory in West Jakarta on Wednesday morning. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Police Say Election Protest Clashes in Jakarta Are Orchestrated and 'By Design'

BY : TELLY NATHALIA

MAY 22, 2019

Jakarta. Police have said that clashes between supporters of Prabowo Subianto and security forces during election protests in Central and West Jakarta throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were orchestrated and "by design."

The protesters that clashed with security forces early on Wednesday morning were paid, a police spokesman said. Police are investigating the sources of the money.

"The incidents early this morning were not spontaneous, but [orchestrated] and by design, it was a set-up," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. M. Iqbal said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

He said security forces have arrested 58 people in Central Jakarta and 11 in West Jakarta.

"There are indications that suggest these people were paid to create riots," Iqbal said.

A group of protesters tried to force their way in to the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) office in Central Jakarta around 11 p.m. on Tuesday. They arrived after an earlier crowd, which were largely peaceful, had dispersed.

The second group of protesters, numbering in the hundreds, then started a skirmish with security officers in front of the Bawaslu office.

The increasingly violent clash between the Prabowo supporters and security officers went on until 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

Police were forced to fire tear gas into the crowd and employ water canons after the protesters started throwing rocks, glass bottles and firecrackers at security officers.

Anti-riot police finally managed to force the crowd back to an underpass near the Tanah Abang Market, but shortly after another incident happened in Petamburan, West Jakarta.

According to Iqbal, a crowd of around 200 people started turning up in Petamburan early on Wednesday morning. Police urged them to go home, but they walked over to a police dormitory nearby.

The crowd proceeded to thrash and burn several cars on the dormitory's parking lot. Police tried to force them back by firing tear gas but again the rioters retaliated by throwing rocks, bottles and firecrackers.

At least 14 vehicles including four police cars and buses were burned in the incident.

Most of the 69 protesters that police have rounded up are not from Jakarta, but residents of Banten, West Java and Central Java.

Police found an ambulance that was packed with rocks and tools used to attack security forces. Iqbal said the ambulance is painted with the symbol of a political party, but declined to mention the name of the party.

"We found envelopes with money inside after we search them [the rioters]. Jakarta Police are investigating [the source of the money]," Iqbal said.

No Lethal Weapon

Iqbal said security officers from the Police and the Military did not and will not use lethal weapons at rallies in the city as ordered by their top commanders.

"The order from the Police and Miltary chiefs was clear, officers deployed to secure demonstrations will not be provided with lethal weapons," he said.

Police officers were backed up by 12,000 soldiers at the Bawaslu office last night and 20,000 others have been put on standby, Maj. Gen. Sisriadi said on Wednesday.

Hoaxes

The police spokesman also urged the public not to be provoked by hoaxes that have been spreading massively on social media.

Iqbal said police cyber patrol has detected the sources of those hoaxes.

He clarified that officers from the police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and soldiers from the Military never attacked any mosque as was reported on social media.

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