Indonesia minister says student protests were hijacked by group aiming to disrupt Indonesian Parliament, Joko inauguration

In a photo taken on Aug 30, 2019, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Wiranto gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Jakarta.
In a photo taken on Aug 30, 2019, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Wiranto gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Jakarta.PHOTO: AP

SINGAPORE  -   Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister Wiranto said on Thursday (Sept 26)  that the recent student protests in the country  were hijacked by a group aimed at disrupting Parliament and the inauguration of President Joko Widodo’s new term in October.

“The brutal demonstrations perpetrated by rioters, fighting against officers, throwing rocks, shooting fireworks at the officers at night, they were trying to make victims,” Mr Wiranto told a press conference, as reported by Reuters. He did not name the group.

Mr Wiranto said the protests were no longer purely aimed at correcting government policies, but sought to occupy the Parliament and “halt the inauguration of the elected president and vice-president”, Kompas reported.

Mr Wiranto had led a meeting with the country’s top security officials earlier on Thursday (Sept 26) to discuss the unrest in Papua and Jakarta, following massive and violent demonstrations by university students in major cities this week rejecting the passage of a corruption law as well as other controversial Bills.

The officials, including Indonesian military commander Hadi Tjahjanto and national police chief Tito Karnavian, were earlier summoned to the palace by President Joko Widodo over the security situation in the country.

Indonesia’s House of Representatives had passed an amendment to the Corruption Eradication Commission law last week stripping the powerful anti-graft agency of key powers, including its authority to wiretap public officials suspected of wrongdoing.

Parliament had been poised to pass a draft Criminal Code Bill into law which, among new contentious revisions, would criminalise consensual sex between unmarried couples, cohabitation, abortion and the promotion of contraception. Voting by Parliament on the changes to the Bill has since been delayed.

In the meantime, human rights activists have urged Mr Joko to replace Chief Security Minister Wiranto with a civilian as he is still remembered by many as a former army officer with previous records of human rights abuses.