Indonesia riots: six dead after protesters clash with troops over election result
Six people died and more than 200 were injured in the Indonesian capital Jakarta after protesters clashed with security forces and set fire to a police dormitory and vehicles, officials have said.
Protests by supporters of an unsuccessful presidential candidate that had ended peacefully on Tuesday afternoon resumed and turned violent late on Tuesday and continued through the night, said the national police spokesman, Dedi Prasetyo. Police said they had arrested 20 “provocateurs”.
Several thousand demonstrators gathered to protest the results , in an area that was in a total security lockdown. Central Jakarta, usually bustling and full of traffic was eerily quiet by the evening.
Behind reams of barbed wire that separated protesters from a heavy military and police presence, some demonstrators held flowers and signs highlighting the deaths of rioters earlier today.
The Jakarta governor, Anies Baswedan, said hospitals were conducting postmortems to determine the causes of the deaths.
Authorities were still investigating and were not willing to rule out the involvement of “third-party provocateurs”, said another police official.
Jakarta has been on edge in recent days amid simmering tensions in the aftermath of April’s presidential election. Official results on Tuesday confirmed the incumbent, President Joko Widodo, had won a second term with 55.5% of the vote.
His opponent, the fiery ex-special forces commander Prabowo Subianto, has refused to accept the result, alleging the poll was marred by widespread fraud – a claim his team has yet to produce compelling evidence to support.
Indonesia’s security minister, Wiranto, said authorities would restrict access to social media in certain areas to prevent the spread of fake news.
In a press conference this afternoon, Prabowo Subianto denounced the clashes and urged his supporters to protest peacefully.
“We are peaceful, not treasonous,” said Rusli, a 46-year-old Jakarta resident, and Prabowo supporter who attended the rally, “The voting data has been manipulated and our the rights of our voices has been diminished. We want justice.”
Indonesia’s Kompas TV showed protesters throwing rocks, a paramilitary police dormitory on fire, and hundreds of riot police in a central Jakarta neighbourhood. One man reportedly died after sustaining a gunshot wound in the melee, according to Tirto.id, an Indonesian news website.
Prasetyo said police were checking on reports of casualties, but stressed that security officers on the ground, which include military personnel, were not equipped with live bullets.
A police spokesman said police used teargas and water cannon against protesters who threw rocks, molotov cocktails and burning projectiles.
The opposition said on Tuesday it would contest the result in court, a repeat move of Prabowo’s unsuccessful bid for president in 2014.
In recent weeks, key figures in the Prabowo camp have called for “people power” as a response to the electoral outcome, with at least two associated figures facing treason charges as a result.
More than 30,000 troops have been deployed to secure the Indonesian capital ahead of a planned protest, with some government offices and schools closed as a precaution.
A major commuter train station in the area was shut temporarily, and roads blocked off in parts of the sprawling city. Some shopping malls, businesses and schools were also closed.
Tensions have been exacerbated by a string of recent arrests of terrorist suspects, who police say had planned to create chaos by bombing the post-election protests.
Police on Tuesday arrested a former general for allegedly smuggling weapons to the protest, and authorities confiscated molotov cocktails from one minibus of Prabowo supporters travelling to the capital from Java.
As of Wednesday morning, protesters had started to gather outside the building of the elections supervisory agency.