Jakarta's post-election rally, which ended in violence from May 21 to 22, 2019, claimed eight lives and resulted in hundreds of protestors, and nine police officers, being injured. The police claimed, however, that seven people were dead, while others said the fatalities reached more than 10.Of those injured, 294 victims were between 20 and 24 years old, and 170 others were below 19 years, while the deaths included three teens, according to the Governor of Jakarta, Anies Baswedan.
The General Elections Commission (KPU) announced the final results of the recent parliamentary and presidential elections on May 22 at 1:28 a.m., declaring that the Jokowi-Maruf Amin pair had secured 85 million votes, or 55.5 percent of the national vote, as compared to contenders Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno receiving 68 million votes, or 44.5 percent.
The Jokowi-Amin pair has since declared victory, while the Prabowo-Sandi pair rejected the KPU's official tabulation result and issued a legal challenge at the Constitutional Court (MK).
This unfinished political process sparked a mass protest from the Prabowo supporters, who alleged massive fraud in the presidential elections.
The police allowed them to stage a rally until they finished performing Tarawih, the evening prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, on the evening of May 21. As revealed by National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo, the peaceful demonstrators left the front of the Bawaslu (Election Supervisory Agency) building around 9 p.m.
However, according to Prasetyo, two hours later some 100 people again gathered in front of the Bawaslu building and destroyed the barbed-wire barricades. Instead of leaving the scene, they attacked police by throwing stones, wood, and Molotov cocktails at them, according to the police. Tensions arose and led to a riot in the Tanah Abang area up to Petamburan area, continuing into the following day.
Following the clashes, various videos and photos depicting violence went viral on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. The Government responded by imposing restrictions on access to social media from May 21 until 25, 2019. Police also arrested some 300 people during the two-day clashes.
As netizens reacted strongly against the violence that caused the deaths of several protestors, including teenagers, the Indonesian Police set up a team to investigate the deaths of seven demonstrators, and a fact finding team was created to investigate the deaths of the teenagers.
"The number of dead victims is seven. This is based on reports that we have received, while nine police officers suffered injuries," Inspector General Muhammad Iqbal, spokesman for the National Police, said on May 23.
Chief of the Indonesian Police, General Tito Karnavian, has since appointed Commissioner General Moechgiyarto, inspector of the Police General Supervision, to lead the investigation team. The team will work to determine the cause of the deaths and investigate all aspects of the clashes with demonstrators.
He noted that police officers did not bring live bullets when securing the protest, but were armed with shields, batons, and helmets. They were also supported by water cannons and tear gas.
The police procedure in dealing with demonstrators prioritizes persuasion, human approaches and displaying police symbols, he said. He noted that the police response is always proportional between how large a threat is and the strength of the police forces in dealing with a large demonstration.
As for investigating the deaths of teenagers during the rally, the Indonesian Police have created a fact finding team. The results of the comprehensive investigation will be conveyed to the public transparently.
The establishment of the fact finding team is in accordance with the hopes of several organizations, including the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection (KPAI).
According to data from the KPAI, three teenagers were killed and two others were injured, and are being treated at Tarakan Hospital in Jakarta. The hospital reported treating tens of teenagers who were injured during the clash, while most of them were later allowed to return home after receiving medical help.
"KPAI continues to coordinate with the police to determine the cause of violence against those children, which led to their deaths," the Commission said in a statement.
Furthermore, Prof. Din Syamsuddin, Muhammadiyah ex-chairman, made an appeal to prevent Indonesia from turning into a country of violence, following the unrest erupting on May 21-23, 2019.
Over 10 people, including teenagers, lost their lives in vain, while the fate of several others is unknown, he said in a statement on May 29, 2019.
"This is nothing but the upshot of appalling violence that occurred during the Holy month of Ramadan. All parties -- the people and security officers -- should have exercised self-restraint, which is the essence of the Ramadan fasting month," he emphasized. The violence has tarnished the sanctity of Ramadan, he said.
"Furthermore, the physical violence that claimed several lives has snowballed into verbal aggression, with many engaging in a blame game with one another, and also accusing each other, as well as claiming self-righteousness. This is the start of a national disaster," he cautioned.
Syamsuddin believes that the only solution lies in the state being present to uphold justice and truth.
"Lest the state is neglected and becomes a country of violence by promoting state violence," he reiterated.
Syamsuddin called to set up a fact-finding team to probe the violence. "If not, the Ramadan 2019 tragedy will become a dark page in our nation's history," he added.
Syamsuddin believes this is the opportune time to uphold justice and truth. "Or otherwise, Allah, the Almighty, will uphold them, either in this world or the hereafter, certainly," he added.
Earlier, Deputy Chairperson of the National Mandate Party (PAN) Bara Hasibuan called upon the National Police to conduct comprehensive investigation to uncover the intellectual actors behind the unrest.
Hasibuan urged the police to arrest those working behind the rioting.(*)