Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Violent protests have exploded Batam Island (Riau province, Sumatra) and caused an unknown number of dead and wounded. Now thousands are fleeing the island, sheltering in neighboring Singapore (about 20 minutes by boat) or other islands of Indonesia.
Many thousands of workers attacked and destroyed the buildings of the shipping company Drydock World Graha in the harbor, burning at least 27 cars, damaging and setting fire to buildings and facilities of the company.
The protests erupted in the town of Tanjung Uban early morning, when an Indian official used cruel and insulting words to reprimand his subordinates in Indonesia, with expressions like "Indonesians are stupid." More than 8 thousand Indonesian port workers rallied immediately to protest against these insults, singing patriotic songs such as "Great Indonesia". Protesters have began to burn and damage all in their path, under the eyes of police and naval forces who preferred not to intervene to avoid triggering a real guerrilla war.
Over 400 policemen and soldiers urgently evacuated 41 Indian nationals employees of the company, forcing them to leave Batam.
The Indonesia includes populations of very different culture, language and religion and a discussion can easily become a religious or cultural conflict. Recently in Poso (Central Sulawesi) and Ambon (Moluccas) severe sectarian violence exploded between Muslims and Christians, which caused thousands of deaths and damage to thousands of buildings.