An ambulance belonging the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) that was seized by police in Central Jakarta on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Jakarta Police)

Members of Gerindra, Garis Arrested While Misusing Ambulances to Support May 22 Rioters


MAY 25, 2019

Jakarta. Seven people have been arrested while misusing ambulances to transport protesters, weapons and logistics to the location of the May 22 rally in Central Jakarta, police said on Friday.

Two ambulances used by the suspects, who are members of the opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and Islamic Reform Movement (Garis), were seized, National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said.

"One ambulance [belonging to Garis] was found near the offices of Bawaslu [Election Supervisory Agency]. We found money, arrowheads and bamboo spears inside the vehicle, which was also used to smuggle protesters through security checkpoints," he said.

The perpetrators' actions were captured by closed-circuit television cameras installed on a nearby building.

"There was an ambulance that dropped off protestors and distributed money, while someone inside issued commands and suddenly the crowd started moving [to join other protesters in front of the Bawaslu offices]," Dedi said.

Police previously arrested two members of Islamic State-affiliated Garis in the case.

Separately, police also seized an ambulance belonging to Gerindra's Tasikmalaya branch in West Java. The five occupants, including the driver, two party officials and two Riau-based supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, were also arrested.

The misuse of ambulances during mass protests is a new phenomenon in Indonesia. 

Police previously announced the seizure of one of the ambulances, but chose not to reveal the name of the owner.

"We received an order from Gerindra's West Java provincial office, which had been sent to all district branches, to take our ambulances to Jakarta," said Andi Warsadi, the secretary of Gerindra's Tasikmalaya branch.

Andi claims that he was unaware of plans to use the ambulance to transport weapons to protesters to attack members of the security forces during the rally. He said the ambulance departed for Jakarta from Tasikmalaya on Tuesday evening.

A picture posted on social media of the ambulance police seized near Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Twitter/@yudistirop)
A picture posted to social media of the ambulance police seized near Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Twitter/@yudistirop)

Gerindra is the main political party that supported Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga Uno in 2019 presidential election. Prabowo is the founder and chairman of the party.

Garis is a radical group that also supported Prabowo-Sandiaga. Police previously said the group had sent some of its members to Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist group.