Indonesian troops flood Jakarta streets after post-election riots

Indonesian anti-riot police shoot tear gas to disperse protesters during a demonstration against Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo’s victory in the recent election in Jakarta on May 22, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2019

Indonesian troops flood Jakarta streets after post-election riots

  • The violence has been fanned by claims from Joko Widodo’s rival, Prabowo Subianto, that the April 17 poll was a fraud
  • Election officials and analysts have discounted Subianto’s claims

JAKARTA: Tens of thousands Indonesian troops were deployed on the streets of the capital Jakarta Thursday, as a deadline approached for a presidential challenger to file an appeal over claims of widespread cheating in last month’s election.
At least six people were killed — reportedly including a 17-year old high school student — after two nights of rioting as police clashed with protesters opposed to the re-election of President Joko Widodo.
The violence has been fanned by claims from Widodo’s rival Prabowo Subianto, a retired general, that the April 17 poll was a fraud.
Indonesia’s election commission on Tuesday confirmed Widodo had beaten Subianto who has until early Friday to file a formal challenge at the Constitutional Court.
The 67-year-old has appealed for calm and said he would pursue legal channels to contest the results, as he did, unsuccessfully, against Widodo in 2014.
Election officials and analysts have discounted Subianto’s claims.
But many of his supporters appeared convinced of rampant cheating in the world’s third-biggest democracy, after India and the United States.
The streets of the capital were relatively quiet Thursday with police and military personnel keeping a close watch on the heart of the city, including the election supervisory agency building — the center of much of the violence — and the presidential palace amid fears of more unrest.
Nearly 60,000 security personnel were deployed Thursday, nearly double the previous number, after Widodo vowed that he “won’t tolerate” more riots.
Authorities have blamed the violence on “provocateurs” that they claimed had come from outside Jakarta to stir up trouble.
“We’ve detained more than 300 suspects and are now interrogating them,” said national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo.
The elections commission office has been barricaded with razor wire and protected by scores of security personnel for days.
Since the violence broke out, the volume of online hoaxes and fake news linked has spiked in the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation, including claims that police raided a mosque. Authorities have denied the claim.
Among the half dozen dead was a 17-year-old high school student and a 19-year-old, according to local media.
Authorities said the victims died from gunshot or blunt force trauma, but denied that they fired live rounds on the crowds.


Philippine president defends new anti-terror law

Updated 11 min 29 sec ago

Philippine president defends new anti-terror law

  • Rights groups fear law will target critics, stifle free speech

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday defended the country’s new anti-terror law, saying that law-abiding citizens had no reason to fear it.

The new law criminalizes acts that incite terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations.”

The law also grants the president power to create an anti-terrorism council that could tag individuals and groups as terrorists; allows authorities to detain suspected terrorists without charge for up to 24 days; and permits the government to conduct 90 days of surveillance and wiretaps.

Speaking for the first time about the controversial legislation since it was signed on July 3, Duterte stressed that the bill would
be used to protect the country from terrorism.

“For the law-abiding citizen of this country, I am addressing you with all sincerity: Do not be afraid if you are not a terrorist, if you don’t destroy the government, blow up churches or public utilities ... just to see the nation fall,” Duterte said in a taped address.

He stressed that the new anti-terror law was a much-needed legal weapon that the government could use to fight terrorism, citing attacks in Mindanao which “have killed many people” and threatened peace and order in the southern part of the archipelago.

He described the country’s democracy as “a little bit shaky” and emphasized that it was his obligation to defend and protect the nation from those who intended to destroy it.

“Once you blow up a church, blow up a marketplace ... the right to defend itself accrues to the government heavily,” he said, adding that “if you kill people, I will really kill you.”

Duterte also took a swipe at the country’s communists, branding them terrorists for their continued rejection of the government’s call for peace.

“They think that they are a different breed. They would like to be treated with another set of law. When, as a matter of fact, they are terrorists,” Duterte said, lamenting that he had spent most of his days as a president “trying to figure out and connect with them on how we can arrive at a peaceful solution.”

The anti-terror law has been widely criticized, with many groups and personalities saying it is prone to abuse. 

As of Wednesday, five petitions had been filed before the Supreme Court, questioning its constitutionality and seeking a temporary restraining order to stop its implementation temporarily.

Among the provisions of the law being questioned by the petitioners are the definition of terrorism and the arrest of suspects without a warrant and their prolonged detention.

Rights groups described the new law as yet “another setback to human rights” in the country.

Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim said that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) respected Duterte’s decision to sign the law.

He added that the BARMM was open to engaging with the government to address terrorism, recommending Bangsamoro representation in the Anti-Terrorism Council.

Bangsamoro leaders had previously called on Duterte to veto the measure to allow Congress to review and address some of the law’s controversial provisions but, since it has been signed into law, Ebrahim said: “We trust that the president will ensure that the concerns and apprehensions of the Bangsamoro people on some provisions of the law will not happen.”

The Anti-Terror Act will take effect 15 days after being signed into law.