From left to right, former Reformasi activists Eli Salomo, Wahab Talaohu and Karyono Wibowo talk to reporters at Pondok Ranggon cemetery in East Jakarta on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of RNA 98)

Reformasi Activists to Send Five Thousand-Strong Crowd to Guard KPU


MAY 15, 2019

Jakarta. A group of former Reformasi activists are planning to send a 5,000-strong crowd to the General Elections Commission headquarters in Central Jakarta on May 21 to guard it before the announcement of the official election result the next day. 

The former student activists said they want to protect the KPU from being stormed by supporters of presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto, who have been throwing accusations of vote-rigging against the KPU and their rival camp, led by incumbent president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. 

Prabowo himself said on Tuesday that he will reject fraudulent election result from the KPU. 

"We will send 5,000 people to the KPU to give them moral support. The KPU is an instrument of democracy, a direct result of Reformasi," said Wahab Talaohu, a spokesman for the group, who calls themselves the National Gathering of '98 Activists (RNA 98), on Tuesday. 

The activist group met at Pondok Ranggon cemetery in East Jakarta on Tuesday to pay tribute to the victims of the May 1998 riots in Jakarta. More than one hundred of them are buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery.  

A total of 1,217 civilians in Jakarta were raped, burned alive in shopping malls that according to some reports were deliberately lit, or shot dead during three days of looting and rioting on May 13-15. 

"This is our responsibility as activists. We will come [to the KPU] to ensure that this democratic process [the election] ends in a safe, orderly and peaceful manner," Wahab said.  

The authoritarian New Order regime, led by former president Suharto, was toppled after 32 years in May 1998, ushering in a new era of Reformasi.  

It started in chaos with the Jakarta riots, which were triggered by the death of four student activists, shot by snipers, at Trisakti University.

During the riots, many shops and offices owned by Chinese-Indonesians were targeted. An investigation by a fact-finding commission (TGPF) found at least 52 Chinese-Indonesian women became victims of gang rapes, but none of the cases ever went to trial.

Suharto finally stepped down on May 21, and handed over the presidency to his deputy, B.J. Habibie.

The iron-fisted general had his hands further forced by a "people power" movement led by young student activists who occupied the House of Representatives building for four days until he relented to their demand to step down.

"The people power movement in 1998 was the result of our democratic institutions, both legislative and executive, being nullified by the hands of one man, Suharto," Wahab said.

Prabowo's supporters, including senior politician Amien Rais, have been quick to threaten people power to overturn the result of the election, which they believe was rigged

Wahab said people power is no longer relevant because a fully democratic system is now already in place.

The activist group believes Prabowo is still part of the "Cendana clan," the name given to Suharto and his family.

Cendana is the name of a street in Menteng, Central Jakarta, where the late president and his extended family lived until he died in 2008.

Prabowo was Suharto's son-in-law, having married his daughter Titiek in 1983. 

"Protecting the KPU will be part of our jihad, our moral obligation," Wahab said.

"We don't want the Cendana clan to return to power. We don't want to go back to the New Order," he said.

Another spokesman of the group, Eli Salomo, said everyone in Indonesia should help prevent the country from falling into the hands of the Cendana clan again. 

Group coordinator Sayed Junaedi said it had applied for a permit to hold a street rally at the KPU with the Jakarta Police on Wednesday.