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Jakarta Post

212 Rally

Sat, December 3, 2016   /   01:52 pm
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    Closely: Acting Jakarta Governor Sumarsono [left] observes thousands of Muslims praying on Friday from the Jakarta Smart City center at City Hall. JP Seto Wardhana

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    On alert: Military and police personnel stand guard at a Glodok shopping arcade in West Jakarta. Business activities ran as usual but shops were quieter than on typical days. JP/ Wendra Ajistyatama

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    Drenched: A rally participant sueezes out a wet prayer mat after the mass prayer at the National Monument [Monas]. JP/ Seto Wardhana

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    Rest room: People queue outside a portable toilet. JP/ Bimo Raharjo

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    Another rally: At the same time as the rally, hundreds of workers gathered near the Heroes Monument in Central Jakarta. They demanded a wage increase and the arrest of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy. JP/ Fachrul Sidiq

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    Focused: Congregators are seen in solemn prayer on Jl. MH Thamrin. JP/ Dhoni Setiawan

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    No Garbage: Participants pick up trash after the event. JP/ I Gede Dharma

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    Healing: Medics from the Indonesian Doctors Association [IDI] assist participants at the rally. JP/ Donny Fernando

212 is a popular number among indonesians and is associated with the legendary fictional warrior Wiro Sableng, a character created by the late Bastian Tito in the 1970s.

Wiro Sableng was born Wira saksana, before his parents were killed by a rival named Suranyali. As his house burned to the ground, the little Wira Saksana was saved by a woman named Sinto Gendeng who the became his teacher. When Wira Saksana grew up, he changed his name to Wiro Sableng to honor his teacher. Sableng is Javanese for the concept of being wildly crazy.

Maybe it was coincidence or was just the right moment as we came to Dec 2. When using the term "212' to refer to Friday's rally, most Indonesians remember Wiro Sableng.

For most participants, the rally was the realization of their anger about recent political waves that involved accusations of blasphemy against incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. And for the rest of the participants, it was an expression of their dissappoinment toward the administration.

Debate about the legitimacy of the recent rallies has been ongoing for over a month. The government, on one hand, has a duty outlined in the constitutional to protect people's right to express their demands. On the other hand, the government must uphold the law and the sovereignty of the state from all the threats, domestic or foreign.

As we look to the 212 warrior for inspiration, we are reminded of the fighting spirit he upheld, to defend the rights of the weak and the poor with his wild crazy acts. This photographic series aims to tell a story about a dynamic movement in the long history of Indonesian people.

Hopefully, people will remember it as part of the struggle for freedom and national unity, and not end up in a rebellion against the democracy of Indonesia.