Police officers run away to avoid firecrackers thrown by demonstrators, many of them underage, on Wednesday, May 22. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Dozens of Minors Sent to Rehab for Getting Involved in Jakarta Riots


MAY 28, 2019

Jakarta. 52 minors suspected of being involved in the Jakarta riots on May 21-22 have been sent to the Handayani Children's and Social Rehabilitation Center, or BRSAMPK, in the capital.

The children, aged 14-18 years old, were sent by the police to the Social Affairs Ministry's safe house, where they were interviewed to find out the reasons why they got themselves involved in violent clashes with security officers. 

"These children came from Bogor, Tasikmalaya and Lampung," the children's rehabilitation director at the Social Affairs Ministry, Kanya Eka Santi, said on Monday.

According to initial interviews, the children reportedly had joined the demonstrations after being encouraged by their friends, or because they had wanted to see the demonstrations up close on their own, or because they were encouraged by their Islamic teachers. 

"Some of them came on their own initiative, or after being told to do so by their Quran teachers. But most of them came with their friends because they wanted to see the riots. [Once they got here] they were given slingshots to pelt the police with rocks," Kanya said.

Kanya said they don't know yet if the children knew the people who gave them the slingshots, or if they have at least met them before the riots.

"We can't yet separate the victims [of the riots] and witnesses from the rioters. We will have to see the investigation results by the Jakarta Police," she said.

Nine children had been sent home already. A total of 52 children remained at the rehabilitation center. 

According to Kanya, the rehabilitation program for each child will differ according to their needs.

Most of the children's parents have already visited them at the rehabilitation center.

BRSAMPK head Neneng Heryani said the children needed a special rehabilitation program. 

They will undergo various examinations, including a psychological one, and also interviews about their understanding of religion and nationalism.

"This morning they were much better. We had discussions with them about religion and nationalism yesterday. Today we will continue with the psychological assessments," Neneng said on Monday.

A commissioner from the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), Rita Pranawati, urged parents to improve communication with their children so they would know if their children are getting caught up in dangerous activities.

"Children must not get involved in political activities, let alone rioting," she said on Monday.

Rita said all 52 children at the rehabilitation center had confessed that they took part in the riots without their parents' knowledge.

"Parents should monitor their children closely. If they don't come home for two days, find out where they are," she said.