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Jakarta Post

Protesters demand release of anti-Ahok activists

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 31, 2017   /   07:34 pm
Protesters demand release of anti-Ahok activists Police offers stand guard behind barbed wire near the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Friday, March 31, 2017, as protesters stage a rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama nearby. (JP/Seto Wardhana.)

Protesters at a rally against Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama demanded the authorities release Muslim People's Forum (FUI) secretary-general Muhammad Al Khaththath before 6 p.m. on Friday.

Rally coordinator Usamah Hisyam said the protesters would refuse to halt the rally called "Aksi 313" in reference to the day’s date at 6 p.m. if Al Khaththath and four other activists were not released by the police.  

Al Khaththath was arrested by the Jakarta Police on Thursday evening, one day before the rally, for conspiracy to commit treason. He and the other four detainees are being held at the Mobile Brigade Command detention center (Mako Brimob) in Kelapa Dua, Depok.

"It is impossible. In every meeting Al Khaththath never conspired to commit treason because our sole agenda is to demand Ahok be dismissed from his position," Usamah, who is also the chairman of the United Development Party (PPP)-affiliated Indonesian Muslims Association (Parmusi), said on Friday. "We are sad because our democracy is experiencing a setback," he added.

(Read also: Four arrested before Friday anti-Ahok protest)

He delivered the statement following a closed-door meeting with Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto on Friday.

Wiranto was firm that the protest be halted at 6 p.m. in accordance with a law that was passed to protect national security and order. He went on to say that the authorities might take firm action should the protesters violate the law.

However, the minister assured the public that he would immediately coordinate with National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to discuss whether the evidence was sufficient to indicate that the activists had conspired to commit treason.