More than 250 people have been arrested in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, since protests began Thursday after Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was sentenced to two years in prison on a blasphemy charge. Thousands of people have marched in the streets of Jakarta, including about 1,000 people who were arrested on Friday morning. As of late Friday morning, the prison authorities reported that 3 bodies were found burned in the Chinatown area of the city. Videos of the protest turned viral when police used tear gas to disperse angry protesters who were banging pots.
Violence continues in Jakarta tonight as Roto training begins for more than 1,000 of the 16,000 demonstrators who have been arrested. I live downtown, near the Government building. Police rammed us with buses, as police barricaded the area between Istora and GudangAmen. I was not able to flee safely. In case you have not seen, the #occupyindonesia demonstration @Inaranguncan has been blocked. pic.twitter.com/0Rr0BhA7c6 — Boba van der Zwet (@BigBobbyV) November 9, 2018
The main target of the protest, however, has been Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who has remained in jail since his arrest on February 2 of this year. The Governor denies making racist remarks, which he says resulted from being insulted by his political opponents during the election campaign in 2015. Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s government has demanded that the protests stop and asked Jakarta’s district governor and vice governor to stop giving him updates from the jail where he is held.
In Jakarta, the lights of Jakarta have been turned off for a few days. The streets and parks have been filled with candles and black banners reading #FreeBasukiTjahajaPurnama. May God let this nation heal. #OccupyIndonesia pic.twitter.com/tNIWa69t2o — Intem Baak (@IntemBaak) November 9, 2018
Shortly after, the Indonesian government also issued a statement denouncing the “small” and “isolated” groups participating in the protests, and warning them against crossing any “necessary boundaries.” Ties between Indonesia and China, a long-time rival of the country, have also been strained since the protest, with both countries suggesting the protests are being used to stir trouble.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article quoted an Indonesian government official in writing. He did not speak for the government.