Things are quite chaotic this morning up at Central Jakarta's Monas (National Monument) and its surrounding areas, with hundreds adamant on holding the 212 "reunion" rally without a crowd permit while authorities are pushing them back to restore order.
The annual rally by Islamist groups was at risk of being canceled this year after the Jakarta Metro Police refused to issue a mass gathering permit for the event, citing COVID-19 precautions. Organizers of the event initially said they would move the rally to a mosque in Bogor, but eventually went ahead with their initial plan to hold the event in Central Jakarta, in defiance of the police, after the mosque said it was reluctant to host the rally.
Hundreds of rally participants descended into Central Jakarta this morning, leading to the closure of Monas and road closures around the area as security personnel attempted to disperse the crowds. As a result, traffic jams in the heart of the city have been worse than usual under today's scorching sun.
Thankfully, authorities have not had to use force to disperse the rally as of this article's publication, and it's expected that the crowds will be out of the area by the afternoon.
The Jakarta Metro Police, however, did issue a warning that it would prosecute participants who insist on staying with, incidentally, Article 212 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on defying law enforcement, violation of which is punishable by up to 1 year and 4 months in prison.
Dubbed the "reunion" of the 212 mass rally, the annual event celebrates the anniversary of the Dec. 2, 2016 (which is why it is referred to as the 212 protest) massive hardliner-led protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for his trumped-up and heavily politicized charges of blasphemy against Islam.