Mysterious Masses And Widespread Clashes: Report Of Five VOI Journalists From Various Demonstration Points Of The Job Creation Law
Crowds clash in Central Jakarta (Irfan Meidianto / VOI)

JAKARTA - Demonstrations against the Omnibus Law on Cipta Kerja took place in various regions of the archipelago, Thursday, October 8. We deployed a team in Central Jakarta, the hottest point in the movement in the capital city to capture all the dynamics of the mass crowd around us. This is a collective VOI report on the spread of chaos and mysterious mobs between us and the demonstrators.

Team A-Monas Roundabout [14.00]

Mass at Monas Roundabout (Saddam / VOI)

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At around 14.00 WIB, the VOI-A team was at the Monas Roundabout, Central Jakarta to monitor the demonstration against the Job Creation Bill. There, the dominant mass movement of workers and students was held by police barricades.

As the minutes progressed, the shoving action began to take place in the front row of the masses. It did not cause a significant riot, until another group of masses came from behind the demonstrators. The unidentified mob pushed the ranks while throwing bottles at the police barricade.

The clash was swift and sudden. The police began firing tear gas, which split the crowd in various directions.

Based on our observations, this is the starting point of all the riots which then spread to various corners throughout Central Jakarta. The chaos was triggered by the arrival of a mysterious mass wave.

Team B-Jalan Haji Agus Salim [15.00]

Clashes between the masses and the police on Jalan Haji Agus Salim (Diah Ayu Wardhani / VOI)

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At around 15.00 WIB, the VOI-B Team who was on Jalan Haji Agus Salim, in front of the Mercure Hotel, monitored the seconds of the clash between the police and the masses. Whether this mass was related to the masses at the Monas roundabout or not.

What is clear, we see the police line as if surrounded. They stood between two groups of masses. One group on Jalan Sabang. Others on Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan.

A few minutes of monitoring each other, the masses on Jalan Sabang began to advance. This mass consisted of students and unidentified hordes. Slowly they got closer to the police, until some of them started throwing stones at the police.

The police responded by firing tear gas while moving toward the crowd from Jalan Sabang. The Jalan Sabang crowd withdrew again. The clash for several minutes was stopped.

Soon, the crowd on Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan - its central location at City Hall - which was dominated by students, advanced towards the police. They tried to get past the police line to move to the area near the Horse Statue. Seeing the movement, the police responded.

The police line that had previously moved to Sabang split. Some returned to Jalan Haji Agus Salim to block the movement of the masses from Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan. As the crowd drew closer, the police fired tear gas at the crowd. The masses retreat. Some of them entered the City Hall. Others ran to the United States (US) Embassy, where the VOI-C team was located.

Team C-Pancasila Building [15.40]

Evacuation of injured masses (Detha Arya Tifada / VOI)

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Tear gas shots dispersed the mass group around the Pancasila Building, Jalan Pejambon, Central Jakarta. The attack was shocking. The VOI-C team who was at the location at that time saw the command car still filled with speeches when the attack took place. The people were still glued to where they sat and stood. The peaceful attack near the US Embassy.

Together with the tear gas, the crowd ran, followed by a number of policemen who followed them with tear gas launchers. The sudden attack caused panic. People fell and had to be evacuated due to injuries and the impact of tear gas. Online motorcycle taxis (ojol) entered the ranks. Together with medical volunteers, they helped evacuate the injured crowd.

Resistance from the masses took place around 16.00 WIB. Police and mob retaliated against each other. From the side of the demonstrators, we saw how the resistance was carried out one after another. One line forward replaces another line that is retreating. A massive blast of tear gas broke the defenses of the masses. The crowd scattered into the surrounding villages.

We followed the mass evacuation. At around 17.00 WIB, we were in Kebon Sirih. The villagers around the area under the railroad provided help. Some provided drinking water, snacks, and even cleared their trading land for demonstrators to rest.

Team D-Jalan Sabang [15.15]

VOI team evacuation location (Wardhany Tsa Tsia / VOI)

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At another point, a few hours before the residents under the rail stepped in, to be precise at 15:15 WIB, the VOI-D team was also in the vicinity of Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta. The smell of tear gas was already present, though faint.

The situation we encountered at that time was confusion. People walked out of his office, looking for the sudden crowd and tension.

On Jalan Wahid Hasyim, then we found a line of students. The streets were closed by then. We are aware a clash has occurred.

"There was gunfire at the front," shouted one resident.

We immediately moved to the location in question: around Jalan Sabang. The closer to Jalan Sabang, the tear gas stung even more.

We saw how the police continued to fire tear gas. It is not clear which masses were targeted because of our limited views and movements.

The situation became more and more unfavorable, so that we had to evacuate to the small alleys around Jalan Sabang. Later, we realized that the target of the police in Sabang at that time was the splinter group that clashed with them on Jalan Haji Agus Salim, the point of the clash that the VOI-B team was monitoring.

Team B-Jalan Haji Agus Salim [15.30]

The atmosphere of police and mass ceasefire on Jalan Haji Agus Salim (Diah Ayu Wardhani / VOI)

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On the other side of the road, the VOI-B team caught another glimpse of the clashes at that time. The crowd on Jalan Sabang again approached the police on Jalan Haji Agus Salim.

This time the mass movement was not as aggressive as the first. The police also moved slowly towards the crowd. However, this time, the advancing police line was equipped with shields.

One of the students with a light green alma mater broke away from the crowd. He moved closer to the line of police, raising his hands.

The police replied to the "ceasefire" message by sending a personnel to the student. The two of them chatted among the masses.

In his conversation, a student with a light green almamater asked permission to bring his other student friends behind him to pass the police line and join a group of other students who were on Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan.

The ceasefire actually materialized. The police and students then shook hands, followed by another crowd. The Indonesian Heritage song reverberated.

Team B-ESDM Building & HI Roundabout [17.00 & 19.00]

The results of the destruction of the ESDM Building (Diah Ayu Wardhani / VOI)

Leaving the truce on Jalan Haji Agus Salim, the VOI-B team moved to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Building on Jalan MH Thamrin at 16.30 WIB. The ministry was defaced. Even got looted.

Approaching 19.00 WIB, the VOI-B team shifted to the HI Roundabout area. There, DKI Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan met students.

DKI Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan meets the masses (Diah Ayu Wardhani / VOI)

Accompanied by Pangdam Jaya Maj. Gen. Dudung Abdurachman and Kapolda Metro Jaya Nana Sudjana, Anies promised to bring student aspirations to the meeting between the governors.

"I want to convey to all. That what was the aspiration earlier. What was said earlier. Tomorrow we will convey and we will continue the aspiration ... Delivered. Tomorrow we will have the meeting. So, my friends, I will make sure what was conveyed. Many are recording here. Tomorrow will be delivered. Tomorrow will be continued, "Anies.

Anies then asked the students to go home. The students went home. Some students boarded TNI cars to be escorted to their respective campuses.

Mysterious mob

We hate polarizing the masses. It is not the intention to distinguish between those who are almamater and those who are not. But our findings show that there are many groups emerging that undermine this mass movement.

Such as the findings of the VOI-D team on Jalan Sabang, where many unidentified people collected stones and other blunt objects in their bags. Or the VOI-B team's findings at the ESDM Ministry Building. The local security guard told us that the crowd appeared suddenly.

There were about 30 people who came to the ministry building. None of them wore the alma mater or other attributes that identified their group.

The people broke through security, destroying a number of facilities, including buildings and vehicles. They even took two laptops and a computer.

The local security guard took us on a tour to see the damage (Diah Ayu Wardhani / VOI)

The police announced on Friday, October 9 that they had arrested 1,192 people they called rioters. Some of these arrests were referred to as members of the Anarcho-Syndicalist group.

However, according to the Head of Public Relations of Polda Metro Jaya Kombes Yusri Yunus, thousands of people were arrested on 7 and 8 October. That is, before the riot occurred. However, these arrests, said Yusri, were an indication of the great potential for peaceful mass demonstrations to mount.

"Up to this moment, we have secured 1,192 (people). Before the rioting, we did raids," said Yusri, Friday, October 9.

In another announcement, Yusri leaked the results of the interrogation of a number of the arrested masses. Yusri said, some of them admitted that they were promised facilities and pocket money to get involved in the mass action and create chaos.

This is known based on a cellphone examination and information. This is because their cellphones were found inviting them to make trouble at student and labor demonstrations.

"What he (the rioters) knew was that there were invitations to come, prepare train tickets, prepare trucks, prepare buses. Then there will be food money for all of them," Yusri.

"Some groups came from several regions, such as Purwakarta, Karawang, Bogor, Banten. Those who came to Jakarta had the purpose of rioting," he added.

Police and student masses (Irfan Meidianto / VOI

The Advocacy Team for Democracy from the Jakarta Forum for the Environment (WALHI), Tubagus Soleh Ahmadi, revealed different findings about the masses. Apart from the anarchist actions that occurred, Tubagus found so many spontaneous reactions from the people whose movements were based on their respective critical views.

"They shouldn't have made such efforts. Because these repressive efforts by the apparatus provoked efforts, or heated up the atmosphere. They shouldn't be doing that. The people were not armed, but they fired tear gas. People came empty handed, but they beat them. We can watch it together in both the media reports and the ones we witnessed carefully earlier, "said Tubagus.

Head of the Ombudsman Representative of Jakarta Raya, Teguh Nugroho, noted the violation of principles committed by the police during the demonstration yesterday. According to him, the police should prioritize the principle of obstruction, not chase and arrest.

Moreover, the police did not only arrest rioters, but also students and journalists. In fact, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) at least noted the beating of seven journalists during the demonstration against the Work Creation Bill yesterday.

"It is hoped that the handling of demonstrations will be more deterrent in nature and prevent pursuit and / or arrest," Teguh said in his statement, Friday, October 9.

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