Police Chief Tito Karnavian: The Food Issue Was Just a Trigger

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A day after Indonesian National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian flew to Jordan, a riot broke out at the Detention Facility of the National Police`s Mobile Brigade Command Headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Kelapa Dua, Depok, West Java. This former chief of the Special Counter-Terrorism Unit went to Jordan to be a speaker about terrorism eradication strategies and to honor the invitation from King Abdullah II of Jordan. He returned to Indonesia after the three-day takeover of the prison ended.

    Upon arriving in Indonesia on Thursday afternoon last week, Tito went straight to the scene of the incident and looked in on four wounded personnel at the Bhayangkara Mobile Brigade Hospital. The next day, he visited the homes of the police officers who died, and went to the Bogor Palace to meet with President Joko Widodo. Amidst his busy schedule on Friday last week, Tito agreed to be interviewed by Linda Trianita from Tempo, responding to messages sent via WhatsApp.

    When did you first find out about the riot?

    I came to know about the incident since Tuesday night. When I was in Amman, Jordan, I received a report from Mobile Brigade Corps Commander Insp. Gen. Rudy Sufahriadi and Chief of the Special Counter-Terrorism Unit Insp. Gen. Muhammad Syafii.

    The Commander of the Mobile Brigade Corps was also abroad when this incident occurred. Did you ask him to return to Indonesia?

    At the time he was attending an exhibition of police and military equipment in the United Arab Emirates. I ordered him to return as quickly as possible. He reached Jakarta on Wednesday.

    What did you do after that?

    I immediately assigned the Deputy National Police Chief (Comsr. Gen. Syafruddin) to go to the location and promptly take control of the situation there. He immediately went to the location with some high-ranking police officers. 

    Why didn't you cut your trip short and return to Indonesia right away?

    I could not get a flight. A day after the incident, we obtained information that the President was looking for you for information about the riot. I was in Amman and continued to convey information to the President. 

    What did you report to the President? 

    I reported on the situation. The President asked that I act firmly and quickly, without hesitation. The President conveyed three times that the police should take firm action. The President also said that the country must not be defeated by terrorism. 

    Your men said that the riot occurred because of some food sent from a family which did not reach an inmate? 

    The food issue was just used as an excuse to trigger the situation. 

    Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine