Grumbled Ramadan of the suspected rioters

The May 21st and 22nd, 2019 unrest happened during the Ramadan month. Those who were arrested by the police due to the allegation of their involvement during the incident must undergo the fasting month behind bars.

Arman’s (pseudo name) thumb and eyes were glued to the cellphone’s screen. It was May 22nd, 2019 around 8 AM. He was agitated. He ordered online taxi countless times and still, no driver was willing to pick him up from Pelni Hospital in Petamburan, West Jakarta.

He then jointly went using the car belonging to one of the humanitarian organizations, just to get out of the hospital, locating not too far away from the Mobile Brigade Corps’ (Brimob) Dorm in Petamburan. But not even 100 meters drive, the car he was in, faced a Brimob roadblock. “This one is trying to run away,” one of the officers said.

They forcefully opened the car. Arman was dragged all the way to the front of the dorm. There, he witnessed tens of people were getting the same treatment: kicked and hit.

“They wouldn’t listen to any reason. Just hit straight away,” Arman told and TEMPO, on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019.

Helpless and unable to resist the arrest, the 36 years of age gentleman was taken to the West Jakarta Police Station, eyes and hands are taped and tied using black duck-tape. Making a trip in the darkness during the day, Arman withstands the pain from being beaten and kicked in his body and head. His temple was bleeding.

“It leaves a mark,” he said, showing the scars.


Angga Prayoga (22) also encountered similar unfortunate treatment when he underwent the police proceeding at West Jakarta Police Resort. His investigation went on for 6 hours, starting on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 at 8 PM until Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 at 2 AM.

He was hit by shoes and a metal ruler while being questioned. He said the torment started once he answered about his reason being in the crime scene on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 morning.

The respective location was KS Tubun street, his usual route to go to his workplace in Tanah Abang area.

“Honestly, I didn’t know anything (about the riot). I continued to An-Nur mosque, there is an alternate route through there,” he told and TEMPO, on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2019.

Angga stopped his motorbike when he saw a group of security officers in front of An-Nur mosque in Petamburan. He even asked if he could go through as he needed to go to Tanah Abang.

His journey to work suddenly turned into a nightmare when a police officer asked him to undo his jacket. His tattooed arms raised police suspicions.

“This is the culprit,” Angga mimicking what the police said.

In the beginning, he kept calm. He was sure that he was innocent and would be released in no time. But his confidence worn out as soon as he was faced with journalists and introduced as one of “the suspects”. One similar thing that everyone who stood in line with Angga was, everyone has tattoos on their body parts.

Angga just kept his head low in front of the TV cameras. The police then told him to raise his head.

“Just because I have some tattoos, I was told to walk first. They were going to hit me with their guns when I kept my head low,” he explained.


Rere, a pseudo name, was worried since her call on Wednesday afternoon, May 22nd, 2019 was not answered by Angga, her boyfriend. Her text messages to him through WhatsApp also only got delivered at 10 PM. The internet access limitation applied by the Government that day had made the communication traffic went badly.

Midnight was closing in and Angga had not been updating her with any news. Rere could not sit still, she tried to contact Angga’s family to find out what was going on.

“I contacted his relatives. Everyone said that he was not around,” she said, that was Tuesday, May 22nd, 2019.

Her fear reduced a little when she caught a glimpse of Angga’s face on an online news portal on Thursday, May 23rd, 2019. She quickly rushed to the police resort to find him.

But time was not on their side just yet, she could not see him then, and even on Friday and Saturday. Police suggested she come back on Monday, May 27th, 2019.

In the last week of May, Angga was in tears, face to face with his loved one. They had been separated by the bars for five Ramadan days.


Joni’s mother was in shock. His son promised to come home on Saturday, May 25th, 2019, but he failed to do so. Joni was arrested by the police not too far from the Sarinah area, just three days prior to his homecoming date.

“He was hit by a baton. Every time a Brimob officer passed by, they hit him. There was one person who held him, an older man. If no one helped him, I don’t know what would have become of him,” she told and TEMPO on Monday, July 1st, 2019.

After arrested, Joni was taken to the Bawaslu Building area in Central Jakarta. They then took him to Provincial Metropolitan Police Station to undergo investigation. Soon, Joni spent his Ramadan days in Marsudi Handayani Social Rehab Centre in Cipayung, East Jakarta.

A week in detention, Joni’s mother found that the blow her son got on his left temple had left a swollen lump, on top of that, there were four stitches on his head.

“If he needed to be arrested, by all means, arrest him. No need to hit him. Should’ve asked why he went, they didn’t know,” she spoke furiously.

The Head of Civil Society Information Bureau of Indonesian Police’s Public Relations Division, Brigjen (Pol) Dedi Prasetyo did not deny the possibility of police using force and violence during the arrest and investigation.

“If the investigation was carried out on a few hundred people, it was a slim chance (that the violence happened), because time was the concern. If it was a global arrest, there is a possibility (of using violence),” he said to and TEMPO.

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Binti Rosidah is one of more than 1.6 million Indonesians living and working in Malaysia. She has been working as a domestic worker in Kuala

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