Jakarta. The National Police have officially banned another protest rally planned for Dec. 2 over concerns that it may disturb the public order.
The protest with the theme "Bela Islam" or "Defend Islam" will reportedly involve thousands of people performing their Friday prayers at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and on Jalan Jend. Sudirman and Jalan M.H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta. They will also demand the arrest of inactive Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was declared a suspect in a blasphemy case last week.
National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said freedom of expression is protected under the law, but that it must not be allowed to encroach on other citizens' rights.
"If they block the roads, it will automatically disrupt the activities of people who use it. People going to work, expectant mothers who have to go to hospital to give birth, or patients needing urgent treatment will be prevented from doing so," Tito said at National Police headquarters in Jakarta on Monday (21/11).
He said the National Police have decided to ban the Dec. 2 protest action for the sake of public order.
"If [the protesters] insist on continuing with the protest, we will order them to disperse. If they refuse to disperse, we will use stronger measures," Tito said.
Recalcitrant protesters could face up to five years' imprisonment for refusing to disperse, and seven years for attacking police officers, Tito said.
Provincial police chiefs have also been instructed to prevent residents from traveling to Jakarta to join the rally.
Tito called for calm as the blasphemy investigation against Ahok is still proceeding.