05/22/2019, 13.45
INDONESIA
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Violence in Jakarta: police deny claims of deaths, slam 'premeditated actions'

by Mathias Hariyadi

Yesterday, two major protests were held in the centre of the capital: one ended peacefully, the other in clashes. Security forces arrested 58 people, suspected of being troublemakers. The rioters are not from Jakarta, but from the provinces of Banten, Central Java and West Java. Law enforcement agencies warn against fake news.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian police have denied claims of casualties among the people who took part in violent protests in central Jakarta in the early hours of the dawn.

Social media and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan reported this morning six deaths and over 200 wounded in this morning’s riots.

According to security forces, the clashes were premeditated and carried out by outsiders who sought "to incite the population to commit violence and cause social unrest", following the official proclamation of President Joko Widodo’s victory in April’s election, this according to National Police spokesman Inspector General Muhammad Iqbal.

The top official said that the security forces have "detained 58 individuals, suspected of being the instigators of the riots".

Backed by Islamists and right-wing groups, the opposition continues to refuse to accept its defeat; instead, it claims the vote was rigged by fraud, full of irregularities. In recent days, Subianto and his entourage have repeatedly called on voters to express their dissent, raising the authorities' fears.

Two major demonstrations were held yesterday in central Jakarta, the first at noon at the headquarters of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), on Thamrin Boulevard (pictures 2 and 3).

Dozens of protesters tried to force the security perimeter and the barbed wire placed by the police to protect the building. Eventually, the protest ended peacefully with the breaking of the Ramadan fast.

Agents and protesters prayed together the tarawih (Ramadan prayers) until 9 pm, when the police ordered the crowd to disperse. The protesters urged Bawaslu to intervene against alleged voting irregularities, but the agency ignored the request.

The most violent clashes occurred two to three kilometres from the agency's headquarters. An unidentified crowd took to the streets in three different locations in central Jakarta: Petamburan, Wahid Hasyim Street and the Tanah Abang market.

The protesters included a group of about 200 people armed with stones and sticks. They clashed with the police at night, when they started throwing stones and burning cars.

"Around 3 am, agents tried to restore calm in Tanah Abang, but other people caused unrest in different areas of the city," General Iqbal said.

By and large, public opinion believes that violence was engendered in order to blame security personnel and generated dissatisfaction with the government.

Suspicions have been fuelled by online rumours, which police describe as fake news. One claims that six people died in the clashes. Another one asserts that policemen and military personnel beat up an Islamic cleric who had taken refuge in a mosque.

"The inquiry shows that the rioters are not originally from Jakarta, but from the provinces of Banten, Central Java and West Java,” said the general.

For police, those responsible for the clashes were hired by intermediaries. During their searches, the agents found envelopes containing 300k rupees (25 US dollars).

What is more, "On a street there was even the ambulance of a certain West Java political party, full of stones and other material," General Iqbal noted.

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