Between 50,000 and 100,000 protesters are expected to gather today (04/11) in Central Jakarta to express their anger at incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki Cahaya Purnama (Ahok). This demonstration, which is organized by a coalition of several Islamic groups including hard-line group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), is held as protesters accuse Ahok (a Christian of Chinese descent) of blasphemy by (mis)quoting Quranic verses during a speech in Kepulauan Seribu, off the coast of Jakarta, in early October.
This demonstration might be encouraged by political stakeholders as the campaigning for the Jakarta gubernatorial election started last week. In this race incumbent Governor Ahok (together with his running mate incumbent Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat) compete with the pairs (1) Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, and (2) Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) and Sylviana Murni. On 15 February 2017 local people will vote for Jakarta's next governor.
Foreigners are advised to avoid Friday's demonstration as there could emerge violence. There have also been reports about terror threats. In recent years Muslim radicals have been aiming most of their terror attacks at Indonesian police officers. Considering approximately 16,000 police and military personnel are deployed to safeguard security in the capital city, this event could be an opportunity for radicals to attack these targets.
Friday's rally is expected to start at the Istiqlal Mosque in the heart of Central Jakarta and conclude at the State Palace.
Updates (new stories are added at the bottom):
- Around noon everything is under control. Groups of protesters across several locations in Jakarta are increasing and expected to become more active after the Friday prayer (after approximately 13:00 pm local Jakarta time)
- After the Friday prayer demonstrators started to move (peacefully) from the Istiqlal Mosque towards Jakarta City Hall located at Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan No. 8 (Gambir, Central Jakarta)
- Most malls and office towers in Central Jakarta are rather empty as people avoid the area, while many businesses asked employees to work from home today
- Meanwhile, Governor Ahok is assumed to be in Jakarta, working. Yesterday, he said to make an impromptu visit (locally known as blusukan) somewhere in Jakarta today. These unannounced visits were made popular by Joko Widodo. Through the blusukan leaders learn about the real conditions of the local people and can engage in direct communication, all in an effort to enhance governance
- The landmark Bunderan HI in Central Jakarta, often used by demonstrators, has started to become more crowded with protesters and police by 14:00 pm local Jakarta time. The roundabout in front of Bank Indonesia, not far from Bunderan HI, is filled with protesters. However, there are no reports of any violent incidents so far
- Protesters seem committed to safeguard order during the anti-Ahok demonstration. Those with microphones (leading the masses) are encouraging the protesters not to damage anything. By 14:15 pm local Jakarta time, the roundabout in front of Bank Indonesia and the street up to the Merdeka Palace (Istana Negara) are filled with thousands of demonstrators, most of whom are wearing white clothes
- To give an impression of conducive conditions we present this picture (protestors requesting to take pictures with the female police officers):
- After the lunch break, Indonesia's benchmark Jakarta Composite Index suddenly recovered, from being down -0.41 percent to +0.03 percent by 14:30 pm local Jakarta time. Perhaps investors are relieved to see a peaceful demonstration (so far) today. The rupiah remains at a slightly weaker level though (versus the US dollar)
- President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla are reportedly carrying out their daily tasks as usual at the Merdeka Palace Complex. Widodo stated that it is a right of the people to express their feelings as long as they don't jeopardize public safety
- A (minor) incident is reported (by Jakarta police) in East Jakarta where there occurred a brawl between students in front of the Rawamangun bus terminal. Police and locals soothed the brawl. This is most likely not related to the anti-Ahok demonstration
- Impression of the streets close to Jakarta's National Monument (Monas), shortly after 15:00 pm local Jakarta time on Friday (04/11):
- Indonesian stocks climb further on relieve of the peaceful anti-Ahok demonstration. By 15:35 pm local Jakarta time, the benchmark Jakarta Composite Index had climbed 0.25 percent to 5,343,01 points. Meanwhile, the rupiah was still down 0.06 percent to IDR 13,083 per US dollar, based on the Bloomberg Dollar Index, by the same time
- Indonesian news station Metro TV displayed images showing part of the protesters throwing plastic bottles at police officers near the Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) building at Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat 4-5. However, the situation seemingly remains under control. The incident happened around 14:45 pm local Jakarta time
- Not only in Jakarta protesters stage an anti-Ahok demonstration, also in other Indonesian cities - including Surabaya, Medan, Malang and Kediri - demonstrations are held. There have been no reports of any violent incidents (related to the demonstrations) in these cities
- Indonesia's benchmark Jakarta Composite Index closed 0.62 percent higher (!) at 5,362.66 points on Friday (04/11), snapping a three-day losing streak. Just before markets closed, the Indonesian rupiah also managed to strengthen against the US dollar (+0.05 percent to IDR 13,068 per USD). This performance is in sharp contrast to the performance of other Asian assets today (nearly all declining on concern about the US presidential election result). Indonesia bucked the trend as investors are relieved about the orderly anti-Ahok demonstration today. Markets are closed now for the weekend but the demonstration in Jakarta is scheduled to continue until 18:00 pm.
- Several high-position government officials - including Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto and State Secretary Minister Pratikno - invited representatives of the demonstrators to engage in a dialogue near the Merdeka Palace Complex. However, the representatives have rejected this invitation (so far) as they prefer to speak directly to President Widodo, while they also want to focus on speaking to the masses before talking to government officials. Widodo, is reportedly currently outside Jakarta to inspect several infrastructure projects
- Approaching 18:00 pm (when the demonstration should finish) part of protestors are heading back home and part is going back to Istiqlal Mosque, the starting point. Several roads in Central Jakarta have just been opened again for traffic (while streets are being cleaned). However, around the roundabout in front of Bank Indonesia it remains crowded. It is expected that most will leave after the maghrib prayer (just after sunset). It seems that the demonstration will conclude in an orderly manner
- Indonesian television channel BeritaSatu TV reports that there is a chance part of protesters will resume the demonstration on Saturday (05/11) as they demand a dialogue with President Joko Widodo
- At 18:10 pm local Jakarta time there are still thousands of protesters on the streets around the Merdeka Palace and Istiqlal Mosque - engaged in the maghrib prayer together. According to local reports, protesters are waiting for further orders from their leaders. Therefore, it remains unknown whether they will simply go back home or continue to stay on the streets. It also remains unknown how Indonesian police will respond; whether they will force the people to leave the area or remain careful not to ignite any anger
- Around 17:30 pm, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla welcomed several representatives of the demonstrators at his office in Merdeka Palace. Their dialogue is still ongoing after 18:00 pm. The thousands of protesters that are still on the streets around the Palace seem to be waiting for the outcome of this dialogue. Later in the evening it was reported that the outcome of the meeting was that authorities will rapidly complete the legal case regarding Ahok's alleged blasphemy
- Approaching 19:00 pm it remains crowded, yet peaceful, on the streets around the Merdeka Palace (although the majority of people seem to have headed back home). Indonesian Police just announced that it will not use any force to clear these streets (even though the protesters should have left after 18:00 pm)
- Local media report that around 19:15 pm there occurred an incident in front of the Merdeka Palace. Some protesters apparently started to jostle. However, after being reprimanded by other protesters that it should remain a peaceful event, matters calmed down
- It starts to become uneasy in front of the Merdeka Palace around 19:20 pm. Police and protesters clashed. Local media report police has used water-cannons and teargas to disperse protesters. Reportedly, several people were injured. Police sends extra personnel to the area around the Merdeka Palace. Reportedly, one police officer has been rushed to a local hospital due to a head injury after being hit by a stone. Violence started when protesters tried to break the police barricade and enter the Merdeka Palace. Metro TV reports two policemen have been wounded
- After the maghrib prayer a portion of protesters went to Ahok's house in Pantai Mutiara (North Jakarta). However, due to security forces at the gate of the compound, protesters could not reach Ahok's house. Although police is repeatedly using teargas, many protesters stay around the Merdeka Palace. Reportedly, two police trucks were set on fire by demonstrators
- By 20:55 pm local Jakarta time matters seem to have calmed down in front of the Merdeka Palace. There are still many protesters at - and around - the roundabout in front of Bank Indonesia, waiting for further instructions from the leaders. Clashes between protesters and police seem to have stopped after 21:00 pm. It is confirmed that seven policemen were injured during the clashes.
- Rumors circulate claiming that protesters will move to the House of Representatives' (DPR) building this evening to resume the demonstration
- For the past hour there have been clashes between protesters and police/army units in Luar Batang (North Jakarta). Police used teargas, while protesters threw stones and bottles to the security forces
- There are reports that the situation in North Jakarta is worrisome, particularly in Pluit and penjaringan. People are attacking cars that are passing by, while reportedly a minimarket (Alfamart) as well as several other shops have been plundered. Based on the white clothes of the perpetrators, they are part of the anti-Ahok demonstration
- Meanwhile, more and more protesters are arriving at the DPR building after 22:00 pm
- President Widodo will reportedly hold an extraordinary meeting at the Merdeka Palace. He is expected to arrive soon at the Palace. The area in front of the Palace has been clear since 22:00 pm
- According to the latest news stories, unrest in North Jakarta is primarily aimed at intimidating people from Chinese descent
- By 23:00 pm the roundabout in front of Bank Indonesia has been clear. It is assumed most the protesters are traveling toward the DPR building where they are looking for a place to sleep
- The situation in Luar Batang (North Jakarta) is now conducive according to a news report from Metro TV (per 22:45 pm)
- President Widodo's press conference started at 00:08 am (early Saturday). He said political actors are misusing this demonstration in order to cause unrest. He requests all protesters to go home and emphasized that any blasphemy (allegedly conducted by Ahok) will be settled in accordance to the law in a rapid and transparent manner
- It seems that all violent acts are over now at 00:47 am. For the past 45 minutes there have not been any reports about clashes or violent behavior in Jakarta and, so, the hectic day comes to an end
- On Saturday morning it was reported that 12 people had been injured in the clashes, while one person died (there were no details given about the deceased person). President Widodo canceled a trip to Australia where he was supposed to have bilateral meetings on Sunday and address Australian Parliament on Monday
Last update: 12:48 pm local Jakarta time (Saturday 5 November 2016)
Compliments for the careful and reliable registration of this event!