Trade union says almost 300 arrested at May Day rallies in Jakarta

CNN Indonesia – May 1, 2021
Workers march towards State Palace in Central Jakarta on May Day – May 1, 2021 (CNN)

Jakarta – As many as 97 people were arrested during May Day commemorations in the vicinity of the Horse Statue and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) offices in Central Jakarta on Saturday May 1.

The figures on the arrests were obtained by summarising statements made by police up until the May Day actions ended at 5.05 pm.

The first arrests to be made were 15 Papuan students who were marching past the US Embassy in Central Jakarta.

Metro Jaya regional police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Yusri Yunus said they arrested the student on administrative grounds, noting that the students did not notify police of the action beforehand.

"Yes, they were secured. Now they're at the Metro regional police, they wanted to protest without a permit", said Yunus when contacted by CNN Indonesia.

Following this, police arrested 12 anarchists. Yunus said that the group was arrested as they wanted to join protesting workers in front of the ILO office. "12 young anarchists were arrested", said Yunus.

Yunus said they were arrested because it was suspected that they wanted to create a riot during the labour protests. "As is usual with them there were suspicions they wanted to create a riot, so we secured them, we questioned them", said Yunus.

Thirty students from the Indonesian Association of Catholic Students (PMKRI) were also arrested.

Central Jakarta District police deputy chief Assistant Superintendant Setyo Koes Hariyanto said the students were arrested as they tried to incite chaos by setting fire to tyres.

"They disrupted the flow of traffic. Around 30 people were taken to the (Metro Jaya) regional police", said Hariyanto.

Finally, 30 students were arrested after they joined a crowd of workers from the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI) and the Labour Movement with the People (Gebrak).

Central Jakarta District Police Chief Senior Commissioner Hengki Haryadi said the arrests were made because the students did not want to apply health protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19, specifically over the issue of social distancing.

"They weren't arrested, (but) separated off, secured because they were repeatedly asked but did not maintain social distancing", said Haryadi.

These figures however are far different from those compiled by KASBI. KASBI Chairperson Nining Elitos claimed that police arrested almost 300 people during the May Day actions near the Arjuna Wiwaha or Horse Statue in Central Jakarta on Saturday.

"Those who were arrested, there were three workers, there were some 200-300 university and high-school students, but the advocacy team for democracy is still cross checking and trying to assist them", said Elitos.

The police meanwhile do not yet know exactly how many people were arrested during the May Day actions in Jakarta.

CNN Indonesia has tried to contact Yunus to obtain a confirmation but he has yet to provide a clarification as of this story being posted. (mts/dea)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "97 Orang Ditangkap Saat Demo Hari Buruh di Jakarta".]