Protesters threaten to
arrest, beat Wardah

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) chairman, A. Fadloli El Muhir, issued a threat on Thursday that the forum's members would arrest Wardah Hafidz, chairwoman of the Urban Poverty Consortium (UPC).

They were furious over Wardah's allegation that they were paid by Governor Sutiyoso during a rally at City Hall on March 13.

The FBR members, carrying sticks and swords, chased dozens of flood victims, who were also staging a rally at the same time. The victims' rally was organized by UPC and other non-governmental organizations.

The FBR members also planned to escort Wardah to the National Monument (Monas) square to clarify her allegation.

""We'll demand she speaks in front of us. If she fails to prove her allegation, we'll hand her over to the city police. But first, we'll beat her up,"" Fadloli said.

""In my religion, slander is crueler than murder. She must accept the consequences,"" he said in a meeting between 20 FBR members and councillors Edy Waluyo, Hasan Ishak and Abdul Aziz Mat' Nur on Thursday.

Shockingly, Edy -- the council chairman -- did not response to the members' vindictive plan.

He even added fuel to their comments by saying that Wardah did not represent the real poor people in the city.

""I was also once disappointed with Wardah as she asked the administration to allow becak (pedicab) drivers to operate in the city,"" he said.

Wardah, who received Yap Thiam Thien award in 2000, played down the threat. She said she and the UPC did not have any business with the protesters. She also said the FBR's members had only acted based on orders they received either from the military or the authorities.

""I only hope both military and the authorities no longer use the masses to protect their own interests. It can and will spark conflict in our fragile security situation in the city,"" she said.

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