Hundreds of victims of forced evictions protest Ahok’s inauguration

Source – November 19, 2014
Protesters from SPRI demonstrate at Ahok inauguration in Jakarta - November 19, 2014 (Sayangi)
Protesters from SPRI demonstrate at Ahok inauguration in Jakarta - November 19, 2014 (Sayangi)

Moh. Ilyas, Jakarta – The inauguration of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) as the new governor of Jakarta was marked by a protest action by residents who have been affected by evictions for city development programs.

The group, calling themselves the Indonesian People’s Struggle Union (SPRI) are apathetic about the inauguration of the new governor saying that regardless of whether Ahok become governor, there will be no change for Jakarta’s poor.

“Over the period of his leadership, Ahok blindly wiped out thousands of homes belonging to the poor on the pretext of solving all of Jakarta’s problems, flooding, urban slums, criminality and traffic jams, but he never thinks about what the impact will be”, said SPRI chairperson Sukendar during an action in front of the State Place on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta on Wednesday November 19.

The SPRI accuses Ahok of blatantly refusing to acknowledge the existence of slum urban residential areas in Jakarta. Under Local Government Regulation Number 1/2014 on Detailed Spatial Planning (RDRT) and zonal regulations, said Sukendar, the locations that are to be developed 20 years from now have already been determined. “Evictions can occur anywhere and anytime”, said Sukendar.

Meanwhile Yuli (27), one of the protesters, a housewife who works as a washerwoman at a housing estate near the residential area where she lives in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, expressed concerns about the possibility of being evicted.

“If I’m evicted and have to move to the Daan Mogot apartments, that’s what they’re saying, and who knows if it’s true or not that [I’ll] move to an apartment, [regardless] I’ll loose my job as a washerwoman at the housing estate, my husband will be far from his place of work, not to mention the children will have to change schools, the administrative process also is difficult”, said Yuli under the scorching sun.

Yuli herself admitted she doesn’t know if it is true that she’ll be evicted, she just heard if from neighbours. As to Ahok’s character, Yuli said she can only judge based on what she’s seen on television.

“From what I’ve seen on television Mr Ahok tends to get very angry, on whether he becomes governor or not it’s none of our concern, what’s important is that I’m not evicted”, said Yuli.

Residents of Cipete in South Jakarta who have the same concerns as Yuli also joined the protest action. Likewise, several street traders from Pluit in North Jakarta also took part in the demonstration.

Ahok was inaugurated by President Joko Widodo at the State Palace at 2pm and officially become the governor of Jakarta. Police were deployed to safeguard protest actions in front of the Palace.

As a result of the protest action Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara was crowded. In addition to the SPRI demonstration, a demonstration by students protesting the recent fuel price hike was also taking place in front of the Palace. (An)

[Translated by James Balowski.]