Powerful Ring Behind May Jakarta Riots

It appears from National Police statements that top figures close to losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, with possible help from the family of the late strongman Suharto, were heavily involved in the planning and execution of post-election riots in Jakarta that killed nine and injured hundreds in an apparent attempt to overturn the polls that returned Jokowi Widodo to his second five-year term in office.

The public statements by the police concerning the perpetrators of the riots are a stark indication of the growing power of the administration to go after people who in the past had appeared to be untouchable because of their political clout. Many of those named by police served with Prabowo, a mercurial former commander of the Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) and the Army Strategic Reserve (Kostrad) during the time Suharto held sway in the country.

Prabowo, who left the country at the end of May with no date announced for his return, was accused of human rights violations by the United Nations for his role in riots in the late 1990s during financial chaos that brought down the Suharto government and ended 33 years of dictatorial rule.

According to Neta S. Pane, the chairperson of the Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) in an interview with local media, a politician with the initials TS also provided funds for mass mobilization to create riots.

TS, he said, is a businessman and politician who transported thugs by airplane from Surabaya and put them up in local hotel rooms. Although the police are carefully staying away from naming names, the initials are those of either Hutomo Mandala Putra, publicly known as Tommy Suharto, the late president’s son, or Titiek Suharto, his daughter and Prabowo’s former wife.

"They are (thugs) thought to have an important role in creating the riots,” Neta said. “Some of them have been arrested and detained by police." He added that police should immediately investigate TS's involvement.

"If the police work quickly to reveal the financer, then they will converge to a big mastermind who coordinates or creates riots, plans to kill," he said.

It isn’t the first time Tommy Suharto has sought to foment violence. Suharto’s youngest son was convicted in 2002 masterminding the murder of the judge who sentenced him to prison for corruption in 2000. A panel of five judges sentenced him to 15 years in prison, although his sentence was cut to 10 years and he was freed for “health reasons" after four years by Indonesia’s flexible courts.,

Although no one is saying anything out loud in Jakarta, the reasons for attempting to overturn the election and end Joko Widodo’s presidency are thought to stem from an agreement signed days after Jokowi’s win was formalized between Indonesia and Switzerland for mutual legal assistance to seek to track money laundered out of the country and parked in Swiss banks. The Suharto family is believed to have hidden billions of dollars in Switzerland, as have a long list of other Indonesian business and political figures.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the highly-regarded finance minister, has vowed to repatriate billions of dollars laundered overseas, much of it to Singapore and Switzerland as well as Cyprus, whose banking laws were particularly opaque until the US Department of Finance’s money-laundering agents forced the central bank to crack down. If the government pushes for the repatriation of those billions, it puts those fortunes at risk.

The National Police announced this week that the incident had been carefully planned and that they had detained more than 400 rioters, who claimed to have been paid to carry out trouble on May 21-22. Some ambulances that were emblazoned with Prabowo's Gerindra Party logo were confiscated for allegedly transporting rocks, firecrackers and other dangerous items.

"Police officers were attacked with deadly objects such as Molotov cocktails, rocket firecrackers, rocks, poison arrows, swords, etc.," said National Police Spokesman Inspector Gen. Muhammad Iqbal in a conference press.

Iqbal said the police plan to question Fauka Noor Farid, Prabowo's former subordinate in Kopassus and members of the Kopassus Group 4 operators, known as Team Rose, who were involved in kidnapping activists in 1998. After retiring, Fauka joined the Gerindra Party and supported Prabowo in the 2014 and 2019 presidential elections.

Fauka allegedly ordered his subordinate, Herkules Cobra, to mobilize the masses from several regions in Java and Maluku. "According to Cobra Hercules, he often coordinates (with Fauka) regarding the mobilization of the masses for the May 21-22 action," said Iqbal.

Illegal Rifle for Murder Plans

In addition to holding hundreds of rioters, the police also arrested six suspects who allegedly planned to assassinate several top government officials along with demonstrators. Based on information supplied by the six, police then arrested former chief of the Kostrad Command Maj. Gen. (ret) Kivlan Zen and a politician Habil Marati (HM).

Kivlan has been Prabowo's ally since studying at a military academy in the 1970s. Kivlan and Wiranto, the former commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces and current security minister, were said to have had a bad relationship despite being military comrades. In February, Kivlan accused Wiranto of being the mastermind behind the 1998 riots, which Wiranto strongly denied.

Two suspects, Iwan and Tajudin, claimed to have been ordered by Kivlan to buy firearms and execute coordinating ministers Wiranto and Luhut Panjaitan, national intelligence director Budi Gunawan and presidential intelligence adviser Gories Mere. Kivan allegedly ordered another suspect named Irfansyah to stalk and execute a leader of the survey institute Charta Politika, Yunarto Wijaya.

Wijaya is a leading figure who has denied Prabowo's accusations that survey institutions were paid to issue quick counts in Jokowi’s favor in the April 17 election. Prabowo claimed victory based on a quick count carried out by his internal team.

Tempo Magazine on June 10 reported that Iwan confessed to being told by Kivlan to prepare long and short barrel guns to shoot dead Wiranto and Luhut. "They have troubled us and betrayed the army," Iwan said, quoting Kivlan.

The Deputy Director General of the Criminal Investigation for the Jakarta Police, Ade Ary Syam Indradi, said Kivlan had given Iwan Rp150 million (US$10,500) to buy weapons and Rp50 million to Irfansyah to spy on Wijaya. The funds for the purchase of illegal weapons were later known to come from Habil Marati.

"HM gave Rp150 million to KZ (Kivlan Zen) for the purchase of firearms. HM also provided Rp60 million directly to Iwan for operational costs and the purchase of firearms," ​​Indradi said. The eight suspects face a life sentence for agreeing to commit premeditated murder. Kivlan's Attorney Muhammad Yuntri denied all police allegations.

Habil has been a supporter of Prabowo since 2009 when the retired general ran as a vice presidential candidate with Megawati Sukarnoputri. He is a businessman leading several companies related to sports and chemical industry. He was a member of the parliament in 2004-2009 from the United Development Party (PPP), but failed to pass for the house in the 2019 legislative elections.

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the police would continue to investigate the case, including finding masterminds behind those crimes and their motives.

Treason Plan

The police also arrested Heriyansah, a driver who claimed to work for former Kopassus commander Maj. Gen. (ret) Soenarko to smuggle firearms from Aceh to Jakarta to use to shoot dead several demonstrators. National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said the shooting was aimed at creating martyrs to arouse public suspicion and anger towards the police, leading to greater chaos.

Soenarko has served as chairman of the National Defense Sector in the Gerindra Party and left the position in 2016. In the 2019 presidential election, Soenarko supported Prabowo by becoming a member of the anti-Widodo National Sovereignty Forum (FSK).

Soenarko was also named a suspect in a treason case after his viral video containing an invitation to surround the General Election Commission (KPU), the House of Representatives (DPR), and the Presidential Palace if Prabowo lost.

Another retired general who was named a suspect in the treason case is the former Jakarta police chief Cmdr. Gen. (ret) Sofyan Jacob, who declared support for Prabowo in the 2019 presidential election. He also attended several internal meetings at Prabowo's house, including a meeting attended by a number of retired generals on May 22. It was unclear what was discussed at the meeting, but Prabowo afterwards through a video appealed to his supporters and police not to commit violence.

Neta S. Pane said the police needed to examine seven other retired officers who also attended the May 22 meeting. "If the seven senior generals are involved in treason, they must also be made suspects and immediately arrested," said Neta.