The Jakarta Post
The visit of House of Representatives deputy speaker Fahri Hamzah to Manado, North Sulawesi, has triggered violent protests, forcing police personnel to take extra security measures to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.
Police personnel fired teargas into the crowd, which staged a rally in front of the North Sulawesi governor’s office on Saturday. The angry mob stormed the office building after they heard that Fahri had left Sam Ratulangi International Airport.
In the face of the teargas, the protesters fought back throwing stones at police officers, several of whom were injured. Facing strong resistance, the police deployed a water cannon to disperse the crowd. Protesters managed to break through the entrance gate of the governor’s office compound before hundreds of police pushed them back.
Meanwhile, one of the protesters called for calm. “Let us restrain ourselves. Don’t riot. To the authorities, we want a meeting with the governor,” said a protester through the police’s sound system, as quoted by kompas.com on Saturday.
Previously, hundreds of protesters barracked North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey when he tried to calm them at Sam Ratulangi airport. “Expel Fahri Hamzah!” they shouted.
The protesters said they rejected Fahri’s visit because of controversial remarks he is reported to have made that could heighten sectarian tensions in the country.
“We don’t want people like him visiting North Sulawesi. We love this country and we don’t want it divided,” said Olden Kansil, one of the protesters. (mrc/ebf)