Jakarta. Social media activist Ade Armando was punched and kicked after he joined a protest involving hundreds of people in front of the House of Representatives complex in Jakarta on Monday.
The angry mob who called Ade “government propagandist” also attempted to strip him, causing him to lose his pant at the end of the assault.
Police said Ade, who teaches communication at the University of Indonesia, suffers severe injuries in the head and had to be rescued by riot officers. Bruises and blood were clearly visible around his face.
The rally was organized by the Indonesian Student Executive Board Alliance (BEM SI) to protest the rumored presidential term extension, despite earlier assurance from two-term President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo that he had no intention to seek reelection.
But it cannot be immediately verified if the attackers involved students.
As he arrived in the middle of the crowd, Ade said he was supportive of the students’ demands.
"I’m not joining the rally, but I came here to express my support," Ade told reporters just before the attack began.
Several women suddenly shouted insults at Ade, 60, who is widely known as a supporter of President Jokowi.
“You’re a hypocrite! Your life doesn’t do any good!" some of the women said.
“What did I do wrong?" Ade replied in a high voice as the situation became tense and he was being mobbed by the protesters.
The crowd began to chant: "Kill! Kill Ade Armando!"
A man punched Ade in the head from behind and the mob erupted in a chaotic attack. As Ade fell to the ground, he used both hands to protect his face, allowing his attackers to take off his pant.
Dozens of riot police members finally arrived to rescue him.
Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Fadil Imran vowed to take stern actions against the attackers, some of whom were caught on camera punching and kicking the activist.
"If you don’t turn yourself in, we will get you," Fadil said at the legislature building.
"Tomorrow we will take action and announce the identities of the suspect," the officer added.
In 2017, Ade was reported to police over alleged blasphemy after he tweeted: “Allah is not an Arab man.” But police later terminated the blasphemy charge against Ade, who is a Muslim.