Indonesia police arrest 'People Power' rally instigator for alleged treason

Indonesian police at a barricade in the downtown area of Jakarta, on May 1, 2019.
Indonesian police at a barricade in the downtown area of Jakarta, on May 1, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Police in Jakarta have arrested a member of the Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno campaign team, and have named him as a suspect of allegedly instigating a rally linked to the Prabowo camp's efforts to delegitimise the results of the April 17 presidential election.

Eggi Sudjana, who is a lawyer and a National Mandate Party (PAN) politician, is the first member of Prabowo camp to be named as a suspect in the case.

The police have charged him with treason and spreading fake news in connection with organising a public protest against the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), and accusing the election bodies of conspiring to committing election fraud in favour of President Joko Widodo's re-election bid.

The police served Eggi with the arrest warrant as he was about to leave the Jakarta Police station at 11.15pm on Tuesday (May 14).

The police then escorted him to the jail, where he is being officially detained for the next 20 days.

"I am, Insya Allah (God willing), an Indonesian citizen who is trying to obey the law. The police have decided to detain me for the next 20 days," Eggi said on Tuesday as quoted by Antara news agency.

Prabowo has declared victory multiple times since election day, despite the early results of the quick count and the KPU's official vote count indicating that the incumbent would secure a second term.

The Prabowo camp has even alleged that a conspiracy to benefit Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, existed behind the many poll administrators who died while carrying out their electoral duties, although official records show that they died as a result of poor health and advanced age.

It then called on supporters to gather on the streets to hold a "People Power" rally, a call that was first made by senior PAN politician Amien Rais. Other members of the Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team also made similar calls, including Eggi, retired army general Kivlan Zen, activist Lieus Sungkharisma and Muslim cleric Bachtiar Nasir.

 
 
 

Prabowo's supporters held the first rally on Friday, which PAN chief Zulkifli Hasan challenged by saying that he would accept the KPU's official result.

Politicians of the Democratic Party, which had backed Prabowo, also denounced the rally.

On April 19, volunteer Supriyanto of the Joko-Ma'ruf Amin camp reported Eggi to the police on allegations of instigating treason, after a video emerged of Eggi calling for the rally.

Eggi has denied that the call was an act of treason.

The police have also named Bachtiar, who heads the the Indonesian Council of Ulemas National Movement to Safeguard Fatwas (GNPF-MUI), as a suspect for alleged embezzlement of disaster relief donations through his role in the Justice for All Foundation (YKUS).

Bachtiar managed private donations of around Rp 3 billion (S$284,087 ) in the YKUS account. He claimed that he used the money to fund rallies in 2017 and donated the rest as relief aid for earthquake victims in Pidie, Aceh, and flood victims in Bima and Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara.

However, the police suspect that he took the money for personal use.

The police summoned Bachtiar on Tuesday, but he did not appear because he was in Saudi Arabia.

"There is an invitation from the World Muslim League. He has to attend a conference from May 19 until May 22," said Bachtiar's lawyer Aziz Yanuar.

National Police spokesman Brigadier-General Dedi Prasetyo said investigators would pick up the cleric as soon as he returned to the country.

"Once we receive information about his arrival in Indonesia, investigators will immediately investigate him," said Dedi.

Retired army general Kivlan, who was questioned on Monday as a witness over the rally, denied he was among the rally's instigators.

"I'm not the initiator. A notification about the protest was already submitted to the police," he said. "Where is the evidence? It is freedom (of speech). If they accuse me of treason, the world would fall apart."