Police in Jakarta last week arrested five suspected members of an “anarcho-syndicalist” group they claim was hoping to trigger unrest across the island of Java amid public anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic. The group allegedly painted graffiti inciting people to riot with messages such as “time to burn,” “kill the rich,” and “die ridiculously or fight” on the walls of a shopping complex in Tangerang, an outlying city of the Greater Jakarta metropolitan area. Their plan to spark mass looting was announced on social media, police said. The five have been charged with “misinformation” and “public provocation,” and face up to 10 years imprisonment.
During the raids, authorities seized several books as evidence, including Aksi Massa (Mass Action) by the martyred Indonesian communist leader Tan Malaka, Indonesia Dalam Krisis 1997-2002 (Indonesia in Crisis 1997-2002) by the Kompas Research & Development Center, and an anthology of feminist-themed short stories, Corat-coret di Toilet (Toilet Doodles) by Eka Kurniawan, editor.
The arrests come as authorities prepare for possible social unrest in response to the government’s imposition of social restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, which have dealt a devastating blow to the earnings of millions of workers. (Jakarta Post, April 14)
Photo: Anarchist Communist Group