Second Sub-Insp. Rahmat of the National Police's Mobile Brigade Corps (Brimob) photographed while video-calling his child during a lull in the rioting that coincided with the May 22 rally in Central Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Story of Video-Calling Police Officer Touches Hearts, Brings Blessings


MAY 26, 2019

Jakarta. About 34,000 members of the security forces were deployed in various parts of Jakarta to secure the capital during last week's deadly protests by an estimated 6,000 supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto against the result of last month's election.

During the often-violent clashes, sometimes straddling the two sides, were journalists and photographers capturing the scenes.

After the Ramadan evening prayer on May 22, some members of the National Police's Mobile Brigade Corps (Brimob) took a much-needed breather in front of the offices of the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) in Central Jakarta. 

Also present was Jakarta Globe photographer Mas Agung Wilis Yudha Baskoro, who took a photograph of two Brimob officers resting on the road. The photo soon went viral on social media.

"I had a chance to talk with one of them; the one facing me; but after a while, he became sleepy," Yudha recalled.

"Then the other officer seated behind him took out his phone and video-called his daughter. I thought it was a touching moment, so I captured it. After that, I moved away not to disturb their moment," he added.

Yudha said it was an amazing, but all too short moment, because soon after, the rioting flared up again and the officers had to get back to work.

The photographer said the now famous image, which forms part of a photo essay published in the Jakarta Globe's "Eyewitness" section, gave him a unique perspective, prompting him to capture it.

"I took that photo because it was an important moment. I saw the other side of a Brimob officer, usually fierce, suddenly being tender with his child; and that Brimob officers can also be exhausted," the photographer explained.

"I hoped the photo would complement the Jakarta Globe's story, so readers would read it completely, to see the other side of the rally; not just the masses against the security forces. They are also fathers of children, husbands to wives, and from little families, just like most of us," he said, referring to the officers.

Jakarta Globe photojournalist Yudha Baskoro photographed while covering the rioting during last week's rally in Jalan K.S. Tubun, Central Jakarta. (Photo courtesy of Aprillio Akbar)
Jakarta Globe photojournalist Yudha Baskoro photographed while covering the rioting during last week's rally in Jalan K.S. Tubun, Central Jakarta. (Photo courtesy of Aprillio Akbar)

Yudha admits that he empathized with the officers while he was in the field.

"There, the journalists and Brimob officers had something in common; we were both there because of our jobs and inner calling. Definitely, I empathized with them. We're all late to break our fast, we shared the same water, we also dodged the same firecracker bursts and Molotov cocktail explosions," Yudha said.

"Definitely, I know they work with a conscience. When one of the Brimob officers was attacked by the masses and his friend wanted to retaliate with a flare gun, another Brimob officer stopped him and reminded him not to attack the protestors, and that no flare guns may be fired directly at them," he said.

Reimaged as Art

Yudha's photo inspired Sheila Rooswitha Putri, a young comic artist and illustrator, to reimage the moment into a heart-touching drawing.

"I first saw it in a post on Facebook, and then I saw it once more on Instagram; many people shared it," Sheila told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.

"I'm very glad about the photo, because it shows a father's longing for his child. Video calls can close the distance," she said.


"[Police] officers are also fathers who miss their children. It may be their last contact with their children because they don't know what could happen next. So I modified it with the theme, 'Going Home,'" Sheila said.

Missing Home

The Brimob officer, later identified as 37-year-old Second Sub-Insp. Rahmat, is from Medan, North Sumatra, where he lives with his family. The Jakarta Globe managed to speak with his wife, Rabiah Zulaiva.

"My husband was resting at the time, so he video-called us. After working all day, he missed us," Rabiah said.

She said they talked a bit, and he told her he was resting in front of the Bawaslu offices. Then he spoke with their 8-month-old daughter, Shafa.

"Whenever my husband has time, he video-calls to tell us he is homesick," Rabiah said.

She said she was happy that her husband could serve the country in this time of need.

"I'm proud to have a husband who contributed to securing our country," 26-year-old Rabiah said.

Free Bali Trip for the Family

The photo drew widespread attention on social media and touched the hearts of many. It even piqued the interest of a local travel agency, which managed to track down the family of the officer and offer them a free trip to Bali.

"I kept seeing the picture all over social media, so I told my marketing team to post a search for the officer, and they did," Ding Widi Anggraeni, the owner of A3 Tour and Travel, told the Jakarta Globe on Saturday.

The search was posted on the company's Instagram page on May 23, and the news reached the family a day later.

"I imagined how it must feel to work with no guarantee of going home again; I was touched by the fact that the officer came all the way from Medan to protect Jakarta. With this small gesture, I hope the family could have quality time together without having to worry about work" Widi said.

The agency will cover all expenses, including return flights between Medan and Bali, hotel accommodation, meals, tours and transportation, for a three- to four-day stay.

"I have told the family and they happily accepted the offer; the wife was in disbelief; I had to confirm that it's free," Widi said.

The family has not set the date yet, due to the uncertain work schedule of Rahmat, who is still on duty in Jakarta, but Widi said they would keep in touch and the offer stands, without any time limit.

"I am happy that the officer was finally found and the travel agency could communicate with his family in the end," said Yudha, the photographer.