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Insp. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan: We took preemptive steps
Chief of Metro Jaya Police Insp. Gen. Muchamad Iriawan. TEMPO/Ijar Karim
Tuesday, 13 December, 2016 | 16:42 WIB
Insp. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan: We took preemptive steps

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A few hours before the third Defend Islam Rally on December 2, the police of Greater Jakarta Region arrested 11 activists for the crime of treason. Greater Jakarta Police Chief, Insp.Gen. Mochamad Iriawan stated there were people piggy-backing on the rally, with the aim to overthrow the government. "Their plan was to direct the masses to occupy the DPR (House of Representatives) and force a special session to oust the President," said Iriawan.

Since taking over the position of Greater Jakarta Region police chief last September 16, Iriawan had the onerous task of securing the Defend Islam rallies, a series of demonstrations linked to the blasphemy case of incumbent Jakarta Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, which began with a massive protest on October 14 at City Hall. Iriawan was able to relax only after the December 2 event proceeded peacefully, without any incident.

Last week, Iriawan met with Tempo reporters Arif Zulkifli, Setri Yasra, Sunudyantoro, Reza Maulana, Syailendra Persada and Raymundus Rikang for a special interview. Excerpts:

The December 2 rally was peaceful. Were you better prepared this time?

We took preemptive steps, like discussing with the rally leaders so we could come to an understanding. The activity agreed upon was that the crowds would do their prayers and some recitations (zikir). They agreed not to go beyond that. National Police Chief, Gen.Tito Karnavian also met the rally leaders. I kept my distance, because during the November 4 rally, I was deceived by the rally leaders. They knew I was angry.

How so?

They said there would be no violence. On October 26, I paid my respects to the FPI (Defend Islam Front) leader, Rizieq (Syihab) at his residence in Megamendung, West Java. Rizieq rejected intelligence reports of possible violence, and guaranteed that the November 4 rally would go peacefully. He promised to be held responsible if there was chaos. Both parties agreed that FPI members would not conduct acts of provocation at the rally. We really believed they would not commit any violence. I held on to that promise. But the fact is that there was chaos. Their job was to prevent (any violence). Yet when it happened, led by the Islamic Students Association (HMI), who only numbered about 100 people, the FPI did nothing. Had the FPI prevented it, the rally would have ended peacefully.

The protesters claimed they were disappointed because President Joko Widodo refused to meet with them. 

During the meeting at Megamendung, Rizieq said they would be able to meet with Vice-President Jusuf Kalla or Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Wiranto, instead of the President. The same explanation was conveyed to the police. Rizieq even promised to relay the message to the protesters. Yet, what happened was, the protesters yelled from the road to "Open the palace gates!" The crowds were provoked. We recorded all that.

Is it true there was provocation prior to November 4?

There were plans to repeat the 1998 violence, which was carried out by 'free-riders'. So, we anticipated it by posting troops at places where they would likely be looting and destruction. We identified one place at Muara Karang, in North Jakarta, as being vulnerable. At Penjaringan, looting took place only because the police arrived late at the scene.

Who were the free riders?

We haven't been able to get them. At Penjaringan, the link between the looters and the brains behind it became shadowy. But slowly, we are getting to them.

Prior to the November 4 rally, signs of the cross had been pasted on five mosques in Jakarta. Did that have anything to do with the series of protests?

I coordinated with the regional military garrison (about this), because this was dangerous. Let us not have a repeat of what happened in Ambon and Poso. I asked the commander of the Jakarta Garrison to deploy his units at the village or kampung level (babinsa) to join with the Babinkamtibmas (police units in charge of public security) to act against those perpetrators. That was when the order came to shoot on sight anyone caught in the act and to reward the person who did the arresting. Immediately those provocative acts stopped.

Who were the perpetrators?

We never caught them. But is it likely that Christians would be pasting signs of the cross on mosques in Jakarta? That would be madness. So, there were people who were 'messing around'. Who they were was not important, because it never happened again.

Were plans to overthrow the government that evident before the November 4 rally? 

On November 4 I had not received such information, but maybe they already did exist. Otherwise, why would the habib (leaders) change their calls from 'Hang Ahok' to 'Oust Jokowi' and 'Open the palace gates'? How did it come to this? Had someone been organizing it, or had they been influenced by the presence of Kivlan and Adityawarman? These two were in the command car (during the November 4 rally) together with Rizieq, Bachtiar Nasir, Fadli Zon and Fahri Hamzah. I also saw Rachmawati in the car. People like Kivlan and Adityawarman, the free riders, aimed at overthrowing the government. Their objective was different from Rizieq's, which was all about Ahok. But as evening fell, things changed. Rizieq asked the palace gates to be opened. Maybe he was provoked by them. (*)

 

Read the full interview in this week’s edition of Tempo English Magazine

 

A few hours before the third Defend Islam Rally on December 2, the police of Greater Jakarta Region arrested 11 activists for the crime of treason. Greater Jakarta Police Chief, Insp.Gen. Mochamad Iriawan stated there were people piggy-backing on the rally, with the aim to overthrow the government. "Their plan was to direct the masses to occupy the DPR (House of Representatives) and force a special session to oust the President," said Iriawan.

Since taking over the position of Greater Jakarta Region police chief last September 16, Iriawan had the onerous task of securing the Defend Islam rallies, a series of demonstrations linked to the blasphemy case of incumbent Jakarta Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, which began with a massive protest on October 14 at City Hall. Iriawan was able to relax only after the December 2 event proceeded peacefully, without any incident.

Last week, Iriawan met with Tempo reporters Arif Zulkifli, Setri Yasra, Sunudyantoro, Reza Maulana, Syailendra Persada and Raymundus Rikang for a special interview. Excerpts:

The December 2 rally was peaceful. Were you better prepared this time?

 

We took preemptive steps, like discussing with the rally leaders so we could come to an understanding. The activity agreed upon was that the crowds would do their prayers and some recitations (zikir). They agreed not to go beyond that. National Police Chief, Gen.Tito Karnavian also met the rally leaders. I kept my distance, because during the November 4 rally, I was deceived by the rally leaders. They knew I was angry.

How so?

 

They said there would be no violence. On October 26, I paid my respects to the FPI (Defend Islam Front) leader, Rizieq (Syihab) at his residence in Megamendung, West Java. Rizieq rejected intelligence reports of possible violence, and guaranteed that the November 4 rally would go peacefully. He promised to be held responsible if there was chaos. Both parties agreed that FPI members would not conduct acts of provocation at the rally. We really believed they would not commit any violence. I held on to that promise. But the fact is that there was chaos. Their job was to prevent (any violence). Yet when it happened, led by the Islamic Students Association (HMI), who only numbered about 100 people, the FPI did nothing. Had the FPI prevented it, the rally would have ended peacefully.

The protesters claimed they were disappointed because President Joko Widodo refused to meet with them. 

 

During the meeting at Megamendung, Rizieq said they would be able to meet with Vice-President Jusuf Kalla or Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Wiranto, instead of the President. The same explanation was conveyed to the police. Rizieq even promised to relay the message to the protesters. Yet, what happened was, the protesters yelled from the road to "Open the palace gates!" The crowds were provoked. We recorded all that.

Is it true there was provocation prior to November 4?

 

There were plans to repeat the 1998 violence, which was carried out by 'free-riders'. So, we anticipated it by posting troops at places where they would likely be looting and destruction. We identified one place at Muara Karang, in North Jakarta, as being vulnerable. At Penjaringan, looting took place only because the police arrived late at the scene.

Who were the free riders?

 

We haven't been able to get them. At Penjaringan, the link between the looters and the brains behind it became shadowy. But slowly, we are getting to them.

Prior to the November 4 rally, signs of the cross had been pasted on five mosques in Jakarta. Did that have anything to do with the series of protests?

 

I coordinated with the regional military garrison (about this), because this was dangerous. Let us not have a repeat of what happened in Ambon and Poso. I asked the commander of the Jakarta Garrison to deploy his units at the village or kampung level (babinsa) to join with the Babinkamtibmas (police units in charge of public security) to act against those perpetrators. That was when the order came to shoot on sight anyone caught in the act and to reward the person who did the arresting. Immediately those provocative acts stopped.

Who were the perpetrators?

 

We never caught them. But is it likely that Christians would be pasting signs of the cross on mosques in Jakarta? That would be madness. So, there were people who were 'messing around'. Who they were was not important, because it never happened again.

Were plans to overthrow the government that evident before the November 4 rally? 

 

On November 4 I had not received such information, but maybe they already did exist. Otherwise, why would the habib (leaders) change their calls from 'Hang Ahok' to 'Oust Jokowi' and 'Open the palace gates'? How did it come to this? Had someone been organizing it, or had they been influenced by the presence of Kivlan and Adityawarman? These two were in the command car (during the November 4 rally) together with Rizieq, Bachtiar Nasir, Fadli Zon and Fahri Hamzah. I also saw Rachmawati in the car. People like Kivlan and Adityawarman, the free riders, aimed at overthrowing the government. Their objective was different from Rizieq's, which was all about Ahok. But as evening fell, things changed. Rizieq asked the palace gates to be opened. Maybe he was provoked by them.

Was that why the police arrested the activists just before the December 2 rally? 

 

Yes, they were the free riders. The plan was to have Rizieq accompany the crowds chanting their incantations up to the Hotel Indonesia roundabout, then he would go back to Monas (the National Monument park). The crowds would then be directed by Kivlan and his associates towards the DPR in Senayan, where they would join the North Jakarta People's Alliance (AMJU) and the People's Command Front (Kobar). That's why they were all booked overnight at the Hotel Sari Pan Pacific (a kilometer south of Monas park and a kilometer north of the Hotel Indonesia roundabout). They also made use of the labor unions. The plan was to gear the crowds to walk towards the DPR and occupy the building and demand that a special session be held to overthrow the President. So, there was an agreed plan among them to commit treason and this was a violation of Laws 107 and 87.

From where did the arrest order come from? 

 

From myself, on Thursday, December 1, 2016, about 9 pm. If I had not taken that option, the crowds would have occupied DPR. Yes, our units at the DPR were strong, but they would have been exhausted and there could have been victims along the way, especially as Rizieq said anything outside of Monas was not his responsibility.

Did you also coordinate with the Jakarta military garrison? 

 

I reported to the police chief and the Jakarta military commander at the residence of the police chief. When I spoke to the police chief, the Jakarta military commander made his report to the TNI (Indonesian Military) commander, Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo.

What convinced you they planned to overthrow the government? 

 

The preparations had been done some time ago. There were meetings at Guntur, home of Rachmawati, and others. There was a plan, steps prepared, and crowds to be involved. In fact, we uncovered the flow of money, used to recruit people to join the protests. But this is an ongoing investigation so we cannot reveal it in detail. What is clear, we have been working with the Center for the Reporting and Analysis of Financial Transactions (PPATK) to trace the flow of this money.

What was the result of your collaboration with the PPATK?

 

A special unit was assigned to investigate it. So far, there has been no indication of where the money for the plot originated, but we will find out. The difficulty is that money was not sent from account to account.

Is it true there were plans for Kivlan Zen to form a motorcycle gang to attack the police? 

 

Yes. Some 184 people were being prepared. That's why we arrested Kivlan that night. We still don't know where those people are, but we noticed that members of Kobar and AMJU had begun to move. We found Rizal of Kobar at the 7-Eleven convenience store at Gambir Station.

Is it true Rachmawati asked Said Iqbal, the president of the Indonesian Confederation of Workers Association, for his members to join the protests? 

 

Yes, there was such a request, but Said did not respond because his objective was not to overthrow the government, but to protest against Government Regulation No. 78/2015 on Wages. I told Said, "Don't take that road." He said he had no plans to do so because he felt the December 2 rally was a political thing, while he wanted to focus on the regulation on wages.

So, having failed to get laborers to join, did the activists then try to pull in Islamic mass organizations to their cause? 

 

There was such an offer to Islamic groups led by Rizieq, but he did not respond because the police chief had approached him first, who told them the FPI would be allowed to demonstrate while chanting incantations and carrying out communal prayers. But as far as overthrowing the government was concerned, Rizieq was not involved. But maybe he knew that his members would be recruited.

So, what was the reason the police released most of the suspects after their questioning? 

 

For humanitarian reasons and for being cooperative. We could not question Rachmawati because her blood pressure would immediately shoot up as soon as we asked her questions. In any case, releasing them doesn't mean their criminal indictment will disappear. And most of them are elderly, although their spirit to commit treason remains high.

Why is Sri Bintang Pamungkas still under arrest?

 

He refused to cooperate. He refused to sign the minutes of the interrogation.

What was his role in the plot? 

 

He's the same as always. He joined with the Kivlan group and became its hardliner. They refer to Sri Bintang as mahaguru (super teacher). Evidence (of treason) on him is the most complete.

Among those arrested were two retired generals. How does that affect the TNI? 

 

They are civilians. I have reported it to the TNI chief commander and the Jakarta Garrison commander before they were arrested. The agreed that the military's reputation could be negatively affected if indeed there was an intent to overthrow the government. The TNI is very professional.

But in social media, it's been reported that the TNI were very upset at the arrests. 

 

That was a hoax. All a game using social media. The manager of Dragon TV who showed a video of the alleged TNI anger over the generals' arrest will be arrested. I have confirmed with the Chinese authorities that there is no such entity as Dragon TV. In a short while, we will arrest those hoaxers.

Which was the more difficult to manage, the November 4 or the December 2 rally? 

 

Actually, if we hadn't acted against those activists the night before, our problem would have been the same on December 2 as it was on November 4. But we were able to take preventive measures, based on sufficient evidence. So, I would say that the December 2 rally was easier to handle.

You were on the ground when President Joko Widodo abruptly decided to join the protesters to pray alongside them that Friday. What was the mood of the crowds at that time?

 

We were all surprised because his coming to (Monas) was not in the agenda. Someone could have brought in a weapon among the crowds. Because, on the previous night, we got reports of people smuggling in molotovs (bombs). We suspected followers of hardline Islamic groups, like the East Indonesia Mujahidin. That's why on the following morning, we swept clean all entry ways to the location, with the help of additional troops from the police Mobile Brigade and the Siliwangi Regional command. I never really believed in the reports, but we had to be prepared for anything. That may have deterred any such plots.

You seem convinced the December 2 rally would be peaceful. 

 

Because of the experience of the November 4 rally, I took steps to arrest those activists the night before. If I had not acted, there would have been clashes. Once the leader was nabbed, the troops became confused, like chicks without their mother hen.

Yet, even after the arrests, the police guarded the DPR complex very tightly. How was the situation there on December 2?

 

We knew the DPR complex would be occupied, so we deployed the maximum security there. About 5,600 personnel were there. All gates were locked. On Thursday December 1, there was noone left inside except security personnel and the police. Basically, we cleaned it out. I also coordinated with the DPR leaders, Setya Novanto and Ade Komarudin.

What if the crowds had managed to get in with the help of some legislators? 

 

I gave instructions to troops on the ground not to let anyone in during the rally, including legislators, not even the speakers of the DPR and the MPR. There are three entrances to the grounds, protected by the local security, the police and the military. If, for example, the secretary-general ordered the local security to open the gates, there would still be me the police and the military, to reckon with.

How did the Palace react to the arrests?

 

They were glad that nothing untoward happened. During the November 4 rally, President Jokowi called me and said, "Pak, I plan to go on a work visit there, please take a soft approach, okay?" I remember well that message.

We hear reports of a follow-up rally on January 6 next year. 

 

Whatever, January 6 or February 8. For sure, before anything happens, we will have a thorough cleanup. I don't want a clash like the one on November 4 to happen again. I don't want my men nor the public to suffer.


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