04/15/2010, 00.00
Send to a friend

Land dispute turns into urban warfare in North Jakarta, 3 dead and 150 injured

by Mathias Hariyadi
Thousands of residents battled with government officials, backed by the police. President Yudhoyono appeals for calm. A thousand police patrol the sensitive areas of the capital. At the center of the clashes disputed land near the harbor.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - At least three people dead and 150 wounded.  That is the toll from clashes yesterday in North Jakarta. Thousands of residents turned to urban warfare against 2 thousand public officials, backed by the police. The violence was unleashed by a dispute over land in sub-Koja district, near the port of Tanjung Priok. Rumors that officials demolished the tomb of a famous 18th century Islamic preacher also contributed to exacerbate the Muslims.

Overnight Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called a press conference at the palace, calling on citizens to remain calm. "I am very sorry - said the head of state - for the violence that occurred in North Jakarta”. The President has ordered the governor of the capital, Fauzi Bowo to initiate detailed investigations on the matter. Meanwhile, one thousand police officers are guarding the city hall in central Jakarta, in an area not far from the offices of Vice-President of Indonesia and the U.S. embassy.  

The origin of the clashes is a dispute over a plot of land - 20 square meters wide - near the busiest port in the country: the Tanjung Priok Export-Import, north of the capital. The area is in the sights of PT Pelindo, a company which runs the airport that aims to take over the property to build a road and rail link to the port. Injunctions by public officials to demolish illegal houses were met by a residents protest complete with machetes, sticks, swords and small arms.

Meanwhile, the ethnic Chinese community - the victim of a harsh attack in 1998, costing thousands of lives and destroying millions of business - is on alert for fear of further violence. The commercial heart of the capital is in fact only three kilometers from the area where the clashes occurred. Yesterday, demonstrators blocked vehicles and forced drivers to show identity cards, looking for plainclothes police officers or public officials.  

The local Muslims ire has been further exacerbated by a rumour that officials - known by the nickname Satpol PP - demolished the tomb of Habib Hasan bin Muhammad Al Hadad, a famous 18th century Muslim preacher, the protagonist of the spread of Islam in Java.  

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo immediately intervened in an attempt to calm the waters, stressing that the administration has no intention of infringing on the place of worship sacred to all Muslims of North Jakarta. President Yudhoyono finally ordered the immediate cancellation of the plan to demolish of homes in the disputed zone.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Catholic music to promote dialogue in Ambon, the city of sectarian violence
17/10/2018 13:29
Guizhou: government steals the land; residents take to the street, clash with police
Fines not enough, China resorts to public shaming to enforce one-child policy
Guangxi: police arrest farmers after throwing them off their land
Beijing prepares new law on expropriation


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”