Indonesian Security Chiefs Prepare for Riots

Activists demanding a thorough investigation
into the Bank Century bailout case at a demonstration
in front of the KPK building in Jakarta on Monday

The country’s top security officials said on Monday that they were preparing for possible riots in Central Jakarta and that military troops would be on standby for a planned anticorruption rally at Monas this week. The alert comes a day after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speculated that his political enemies would attempt to hijack the protest to attack him. His security minister, the National Police chief and the head of the spy agency have huddled to discuss how to prevent agitators from hijacking Wednesday’s rally, organized by the Clean Indonesia Movement to commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day. The Jakarta Police announced that 14,000 officers, nearly half its force, would be on duty to guard the rally. The security chiefs said the central government was worried that the rally would be manipulated by certain groups and harm the public. But just like the president on Sunday, they named no suspects and did not elaborate. “I really hope the organizer of the rally will raise awareness about such possible manipulation,” said Djoko Suyanto, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs. “Are there any indications that riots will happen? I think you can answer that by yourselves.” Djoko said the government would not issue a special alert level for police and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI). “I hope nothing will happen. The police will work as usual, but their level of alertness will be increased. TNI troops will be in position.” Fadjroel Rachman of the Anti-Corruption Civil Society Coalition (Kompak), one of the rally’s organizers, appealed for calm. “It would be better to stop saying to people that the Dec. 9 movement is for treason, being used [by political interest groups] or being funded by corruptors,” he said. National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri said the police would provide an opportunity for rally participants to speak. But he said freedom of speech also had to respect the law. “We will guard the rally to keep it on the right track,” said Bambang, whose agency is under fire for allegedly framing two anticorruption officials for extortion. Sutanto, head of the State Intelligence Agency, said the public must bear in mind that groups had manipulated public movements in the past. “So be aware,” he said. “You journalists know who the manipulators are because most of them access the media organizations.” It is widely believed that the groups being referred to are opposition parties in the House led by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Army Chief Lt. Gen. George Toisutta said there were no special preparations for the rally, but the military was ready for trouble. “We have a lot of experience with riots, which would make [the country take] a step backward rather than forward, ” he said. He said he hoped the demonstrators wouldn’t be provoked. “The people now are smarter and no one wants any unrest.” Speaking last week and on Sunday, Yudhoyono said his political opponents planned to use the rally to target him and his government over the Bank Century scandal. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and House of Representatives have launched separate probes of the government’s controversial Rp 6.7 trillion ($710 million) bailout of the bank amid unsubstantiated allegations that some of funds were embezzled by the Democratic Party. Some political analysts labeled the president’s remarks last week as “paranoid.”

Recommended Posts :