The Jakarta Post
Hundreds of protestors from the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and a group calling themselves the National Anti-Communist Alliance (Anak) staged a protest on Friday in Central Jakarta demanding a transparent investigation into the death of six FPI members and the release of the FPI leader Rizieq Shihab.
The protestors, gathered around Jl. MH Thamrin on Friday afternoon in a protest that they dubbed the “1812 protest”.
They demanded a thorough investigation into the killing of six FPI members in an alleged clash with the police on Dec. 7. They also called for the police to release controversial cleric Rizieq detained since Sunday after he was named a suspect in an alleged health-protocol breach relating to events held in his house and the group’s headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, last month.
The protest was refused permission from the Jakarta Police on the back of COVID-19 concerns. However, a joint force of at least 5,000 policemen, Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel and other officers was deployed to ensure security during the protests.
“We have prepared at least 5,000 personnel. We also have 7,500 personnel in reserve,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus said on Friday, kompas.com reported.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Argo Yuwono said that the National Police also deployed 2,690 personnel from the National Police’s Mobile Brigade to help secure the protest.
He said that the police decided not to issue any protest permits on Friday over fears of new COVID-19 transmission clusters emerging from the gatherings.
“Health protocols must be enforced. That is why we firmly did not give [the protest] a permit,” Argo said on Thursday.
Police were seen at the location of the protest equipped with riot gear on Friday at noon as the protesters gathered around Thamrin area.
The protesters initially planned to hold the protest in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta. However, the police formed a human barricade and prevented the protesters getting as far as the Arjuna Wiwaha monument (Horse statue).
Police personnel also tried to verbally persuade the protestors to disperse.
“Avoid crowds, please disperse. The number of COVID-19 cases in Jakarta is still high,” a police officer said through a loudhailer at the protest site as reported by kompas.com.
Several minor clashes took place as police tried to disperse the crowd. Members of the police pushed back the protesters to the Tanah Abang area.
Meanwhile, FPI legal representative Aziz Yanuar said there was no direct order from the group’s leaders regarding Friday’s protests.
“Today’s protests or any protests in the future have no relation to Rizieq Shihab. There was no instruction for the protest coming from him,” he said.
Aziz said the protestors only wanted to express their demand for justice for the six slain FPI members and for their leader Rizieq to be released.
“[The protest] was the initiative of Muslims and people who cannot accept injustice or the criminalization of clerics,” he added.