Jakarta confines protests to 3 places

Demonstrators outside the Corruption Eradication Commission in January. In addition to the location restrictions, protesters also cannot use loudspeakers which go above 60 decibels.
Demonstrators outside the Corruption Eradication Commission in January. In addition to the location restrictions, protesters also cannot use loudspeakers which go above 60 decibels.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Governor says rule maintains public order while allowing freedom of expression

JAKARTA • Demonstrations in the Indonesian capital will be allowed only in three specific locations with immediate effect, as the Jakarta administration has signed a decree that aims to keep public order while still allowing freedom of expression, officials said.

The new arrangement, as stipulated by Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, states that protests can be held only between 6am and 6pm, said Ms Sri Rahayu, the capital city's public bureau chief. The popular governor signed the gubernatorial decree on Wednesday.

"The regulation still guarantees freedom of speech, freedom to express opinions and it still upholds democracy," Ms Sri Rahayu said, according to the Kompas website on Thursday.

The three locations for public demonstrations are: a large carpark in the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan; the Alun-alun Demokrasi civic square around Parliament; and at a corner of the National Monument in downtown Jakarta.

Protests were previously often held in the centre of Jakarta, at the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout - a key intersection of major roads surrounded by hotels and malls - and caused massive traffic snarls.

Other regular sites of these peaceful protests are the presidential palace and the offices of the various government ministries or agencies, such as the Corruption Eradication Commission.

Protesters who wished to gather at the presidential palace or at City Hall will be directed to hold their protests at the National Monument. And those who wished to demonstrate against the House of Representatives and the various ministries will be directed to the carpark at Senayan stadium or to the Parliament square.

Mr Ratiyono, head of the Jakarta National and Political Unity Office, said protesters must not infringe on other people's rights or the state's economy and security.

"The decree was issued so that demonstrations are conducted in an orderly fashion and do not interrupt other people's rights," he told Kompas. The officials did not say why the governor is limiting the protests to only three sites.

Under the decree, protesters are also banned from burning tyres or using loudspeakers which go above 60 decibels.

They are also advised to send representatives to meet with officials for mediation. "We will help the representatives to meet with the authorities," Mr Ratiyono said.

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline 'Jakarta confines protests to 3 places'. Print Edition | Subscribe