Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tanjung Priok Port Riot

Yesterday, a bloody fighting between city security personnel and ordinary people took place very close to the Container Terminal of the Jakarta harbour in Tanjung Priok.
The fighting began when 2,000 security personnel helped by 600 Police officers used Water Cannons, Tear gas, Rubber bullets, Batons to drive back people who protested against the demolition of a graveyard of an Islamic cleric. Please find below a news report about the incident that I have quoted from Kompas

Actually this incident should not happen because the legal status of disputed graveyard area has been decided by the North Jakarta Court in 2002 as belongs the port authority. And both parties have agreed to settle their differences amicably. But unfortunately, very slow implication of the agreement has caused misunderstandings. 
How SBY Responses Deadly Tomb Protest in Jakarta
Kamis, 15 April 2010 | 07:29 WIB
JAKARTA, — Protesters wielding machetes, sticks and petrol bombs clashed with riot police in running battles over a Muslim cleric’s tomb near the Indonesian capital’s main seaport, killing two people and wounding some 130 others.  Some of the injuries were severe, including an officer who had his stomach slashed and another whose hand was chopped off. Wednesday’s violence was Jakarta’s worst civil unrest in years.
About 2,000 city security officers and 600 police used tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and batons to  beat back the protesters near the seaport of Tanjung  Priok in northern Jakarta, city spokesman Cucu Kurnia said. Police estimated the number of protesters at 500. The demonstrators threw rocks and petrol bombs, setting fire to at least five police vehicles and destroying dozens of others.

An Associated Press photographer saw several protesters beaten by police and dragged away bleeding, including teenagers. Fist fights broke out and burning tires and cars sent a cloud of black smoke over the port.

The protesters believed city officials were trying to remove the tomb of an Arab cleric who helped spread Islam in North Jakarta in the 18th century. The tomb is on land owned by the state-run seaports operator Pelindo II, and the area is home to many squatters.
Two people were killed in the clashes and the death toll could increase, deputy national police spokesman Col. Zaenuri Lubis told reporters late Wednesday.  The demonstration began in the morning when hundreds of security officials showed up near the tomb with excavators. Kurnia denied the tomb was the target, saying the city wanted to remove the squatters.

 “We did not intend to demolish the tomb, but we want to evict the illegal settlers. In fact, the local government wanted to preserve or restore the tomb,” Kurnia said.  The protesters believed otherwise and attacked city officials, sparking running battles that lasted several hours. A second round of intense fighting broke out hours later outside the hospital where the wounded had been taken. By nightfall the clashes had stopped, but the situation was still tense.

Protesters maintained control of the area around the tomb and some 500 security forces had to be evacuated to a nearby police station by boat because leaving by road would have likely led to more clashes, said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman at the transportation ministry.   Just after midnight, several hundred protesters set fire to five security vehicles parked outside the hospital, Metro TV reported.

The flare-up came a short time after senior government and police officials visited the hospital.  Kurnia said authorities were surprised by the response of those living near the tomb.
“The mass anger was horrible and beyond our expectation for what was a simple case,” he said.

Kurnia said members of a hard-line Muslim group also were involved in the fighting.  “The locals were supported by a mass organization who outnumbered the locals by twofold,” he said.

Kurnia declined to name the group. He may have been referring to the Islamic Defenders Front, an organization with a long history of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies, and torching buildings belonging to rival groups or sects it considers heretical.

Jakarta police chief Maj. Gen. Wahyono, who uses a single name, said 130 people were wounded, including 79 security forces. Kurnia said seven were in critical condition, including a security officer who had his stomach slashed open with a machete, and another whose hand was cut off.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed concern and regret over the clashes and ordered an investigation. He also called on Jakarta’s governor to meet all parties involved and put any evictions in the area on hold until a solution can be reached.


Unknown said...

I have been following this story and it is totally shocking even for Indonesian standards.
I hope there is a peaceful conclusion to it for all concerned.

Unknown said...

It is really horrifying that the authorities were 'defeated' by the mobs, and vigilante like FPI took over. Crazy. Especially that Tanjung Priok is a harbor of the capital city.

Edwin said...

cool information

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pj said...

Hi Harry

This is indeed sad news. There also seems to be a lot of conflicting reports about what happenned and who is to blame. I get very suspicious of motives when the FPI get involved - usually they are all for the demolition of illegal buildings. Why the turnaround i wonder?

It is indeed horrifying when the mob takes over and the government must now decide how to handle this situation. There are some kneejerk reactions out there to ban the satpol but I can think of other groups that need banning long before the police. The police do need more training on how to handle rioters and perhaps the news videos can be reviewed to determine the instigators of the violence.

colson said...

It is hard - no, impossible- for me to understand either side on this matter.

I guess Police didn't have a choice. But generally speaking however authorities using violence against civilians, are loosing anyway. The anger behind the behaviour of the mobs ( which probably at least partly is genuine, though maybe caused by quite different issues also) should have been dealt with before - it should have been prevented.

Adhie's World.. said...

it should be prevented. Hopefully there is a better way to solve the problem between government and the moslem.

Unknown said...

I pray things get better and a solution is found.


Unknown said...

I am glad that you like my blog, thanks.

The SatPol PP (city security unit) men were just following instruction from the bosses i.e. government of Jakarta. So it is their boss' faults i.e unable to kept promises to the heir of the cleric.
A big shame that the Satpol PP and Police cannot control the situation and were forced to be evacuated through the sea, and allow the FPI to become hero by calming down the people.
This should have never happen considering that Tg Priok port handled around 50% of export import in Indonesia.

For me it is also impossible to believe that such uncontrolled riot could happen very closed to a very important port in Indonesia.
It could have been prevented considering that both parties have actually made a deal before.

@Adhie's world,
This is not a conflict between the govt and certain religious people, but it's people's protests against the govt.'s policy. If persuasive ways have been used, surely it would not happened.

@Pat/The Tales,
Thank you for your following my blog on Google Friend Connect and for your comment. I'll follow your blog.