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Indonesian Police Identify Officials Allegedly Targeted for Assassination

Tia Asmara
Jakarta
2019-05-28
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Indonesian riot police are deployed in anticipation of protests outside the General Election Supervisory Board building in Jakarta, May 28, 2019.
Indonesian riot police are deployed in anticipation of protests outside the General Election Supervisory Board building in Jakarta, May 28, 2019.
AP

Two senior ministers, a presidential adviser and the head of the national intelligence agency were targets in an assassination plot linked to last week’s political unrest in Jakarta, the national police chief said Tuesday.

Police revealed Monday that they had arrested six suspects allegedly planning to assassinate four “national figures” and the unnamed director of a polling company during two nights of rioting in Jakarta that ended on May 23. The suspects were identified by their initials only: H.K., A.Z., I.R., T.J., A.D., and H.F.

National police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian identified the four who were targets as Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, National Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan and Gories Mere, presidential adviser on intelligence.

“This information was gleaned from questioning the suspects, not intelligence information,” Tito told a news conference.

A rally by supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto descended into chaos beginning on May 21 when officers clashed with protesters who threw rocks and fuel bombs, police said. At least eight people were killed over two nights of rioting.

The protesters demanded the Election Supervisory Agency take action in response to allegations by Prabowo’s camp that the April 17 election was stolen by the government of incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Police have insisted that the rioting was not spontaneous but incited by third parties bent on creating chaos to destabilize the country, adding that officers were trying to identify the responsible parties. A total of 458 people have been arrested in connection with the riots.

“We tolerated them protesting on the streets even though they disturbed public order and violated the rights of other road users,” Tito said.

Fomenting unrest

Meanwhile, national police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said three groups were exploiting the protest to stir up unrest.

Iqbal said the first group allegedly involved a former commander of the army’s Kopassus special forces, retired Maj. Gen. Soenarko, who was arrested on May 20 on suspicion of smuggling weapons from Aceh province.

Iqbal identified the second group as a hardline Islamic group called the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis), which police said had ties to the Islamic State (IS).

Last week, police said two of the people in custody are members of Garis, whose founder Chep Hernawan claimed in 2014 that he was the Indonesian head of IS but later renounced the terrorist group. Chep said he sent several of students from his boarding school to the riot to serve on medical teams.

The six suspects who allegedly plotted the assassinations made up the third group, Iqbal said.

“This group joined the crowd and carried firearms. They are professionals because they can use firearms and know the home addresses of the targets,” he said.

After learning of the alleged plot, Wiranto said he was not deterred.

“The threat was aimed at stoking fear, but we must continue to work hard to make the country secure. Our lives are in God’s hands,” the minister told reporters.

Amnesty International

In related news, Amnesty International Indonesia (AI) has called for an impartial investigation into the deaths during last week’s riots, saying there were indications of human rights violations by security forces.

“Perpetrators of violence, be they from the police force or other parties, must be brought to justice,” AI said in a statement, adding that three minors were among this killed. “There must be a thorough investigation to uncover facts.”

A video circulated on social media appeared to show riot police beating and kicking a protester.

The riots broke out hours after General Elections Commission (KPU) announced official totals showing that Jokowi received 55.5 percent of the votes in the presidential election, against 45.5 percent for Prabowo. The KPU made the announcement shortly after midnight on May 21, a day earlier than scheduled amid concerns of massive protests.

Prabowo has challenged the election before the Constitutional Court, alleging systematic and massive electoral fraud. The court is expected to rule before June 15.

Ahmad Syamsudin in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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