Yustinus Paat, Jakarta – Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno are responsible for provoking many teens to take part in violent post-election riots last week, a spokeswomen for the Indonesian Solidarity Party, or PSI, often dubbed Indonesia's "millennial party," said on Wednesday.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) have documented the involvement of hundreds of underage teens in sporadic rioting in Jakarta on May 21-22, which took place after the General Elections Commission (KPU) announced a win for incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in last month's presidential election.
Police have arrested 52 of these teens and charged them with rioting.
Prior to KPU's announcement, Prabowo was adamant in saying he would reject the official election result, alleging that the election last month was "massively, systematically and structurally" rigged.
Prabowo's determination to reject the election result led to calls from some of his supporters to hold a series of massive street protests in Jakarta last week, which turned violent and claimed eight lives and injured hundreds of people.
The police have identified several groups that rode the waves of protests last week to instigate chaos in the capital and are working hard to discover their mastermind.
PSI thinks the riots could have been avoided had Prabowo and Sandiaga accepted the election result from the beginning and taken their dispute to court, instead of calling on people to join their street protests.
"The [public] provocations coming from Prabowo and Sandiaga to mobilize crowds, including underage teens [to their cause], turned them into easy victims," PSI spokeswoman Dara Nasution said on Wednesday.
"We've heard reports that these teens were told [to join the riots] by their Quran teachers," Dara said. Quran teachers were a key component of Prabowo's presidential campaign, which often relied on identity politics to shore up support.
"Prabowo and Sandiaga have not only destroyed democracy, but also Indonesia's future by involving these underage teens in last week's riots," Dara said.
Dara called on the authorities not to put these teens in jail but send them to rehabilitation centers.
"The most important thing is to find out who the mastermind [of these riots] was. Who ordered the Quran teachers to tell these kids to join the rioters. It must've been a long chain of command, but it's imperative that we find out who was responsible," Dara said.
She said Indonesia's demographic bonus could be in jeopardy if the country's youth are easily manipulated to take part or even carry out riots.
"We always say that Indonesia has a demographic bonus. That Indonesia is a great country with a young population. But if the young people keep getting involved in riots like last week's, what would become of them, what would become of Indonesia?" Dara said.