May Day rally in Bandung ends in chaos, hundreds arrested

Tempo – May 1, 2019
Police officer falls while chasing protesters in Bandung – May 1, 2019 (Tempo)
Police officer falls while chasing protesters in Bandung – May 1, 2019 (Tempo)

Kukuh S. Wibowo, Bandung – Police arrested hundreds of people warring all black clothing during a Labour Day rally in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on Wednesday May 1. The people arrested were taking part in a May Day action in front of the Gedung Sate building in Bandung.

Those arrested came from a number of different groups including the Anti-Capitalist People’s Movement (GERAK), students, student press groups, the Bandung Students Alliance (APB) and other movement groups in Bandung. The majority were alleged to have committed vandalism by spraying graffiti using the uppercase A symbol for Anarchy.

Bandung district police chief Senior Commissioner Irman Sugema said that the arrests were made because they were making trouble and wanted in infiltrate the Labour Day commemorations. “They didn’t just bring pylox (spray paint) but were also carrying sharp weapons”, he said.

According to Sugema, police will soon summon the parents of the arrested and the leaders of the groups. For the moment, he said, they are still being detained by the Bandung district police (Polrestabes).

The Bandung City Civil Society Coalition has slammed the arrests on charges of causing trouble and acts of vandalism. Bandung Civil Society Coalition representative Willy Hanafi said the arrests were arbitrary.

“There is not one regulation saying that police can arrest [people] arbitrarily without clear arguments and facts”, said Hanafi, who is also the director of the Bandung Legal Aid Foundation (LBH). “There is no stipulation that those joining a Labour Day rally must be from a labour organisation”, he said.

According to Hanafi, those who were arrested also suffered violence at the hands of police such as being shaved bald, stripped and beaten. “Up until no they have yet to obtain any [legal] assistance. When we wanted to provide assistance when those arrested were taken into Polrestabes”, he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Hari Buruh di Bandung Ricuh, Polisi Tangkap Ratusan Orang”.]