Jakarta – A protest action by Greenpeace activists at the Hotel Indonesia (HI) traffic circle in Central Jakarta using a giant "oligarchy monster" was broken up by police on Friday October 6.
Police began breaking up the action at 6.25 pm, asking the activists to remove the oligarchy monster from the Hotel Indonesia water fountain.
The Greenpeace activist followed the instruction but shortly after the oligarchy monster was removed from the water the police ordered the activists to get into a vehicle.
The banners containing protests against the elections and environmental damage that had been brought by the activists were seized by the police and they were ordered to immediately get into the vehicle.
"Take them to the Menteng Polsek [sectoral police]", one of the police officers at the location told his colleagues.
There were around 11 activists who had been swimming in the water that were taken to the Menteng sectoral police, while one other who had given bread snacks to their colleagues was also taken away.
One of the reasons the police gave for detaining the activists was because it was deemed that they were disturbing public order. "[They] disturbed public order", said one of the police officers at the location when asked.
The activists began the action earlier at 5 am this morning by placing the oligarchy monster, whose form was similar to an octopus, in the Hotel Indonesia water fountain. The monster was coloured orange with the writing "oligarchy" written on its body.
Also displayed were mannequins with their faces covered by masks of the three presumptive presidential candidates, namely former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) Chairperson and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and former East Java governor Ganjar Pranowo.
The three presidential mannequins were entwined in the tentacles of the oligarchic monster octopus.
The 12 or so Greenpeace members dived into the water carrying placards with the messages such as "Vote for the Earth, Not the Oligarchy", "Elections Without the Oligarchy" and "Vote for the Climate not the Oligarchy".
There were also several posters criticising environmental destruction and air pollution such as "Choking on Air Pollution, Choking on Smoke from Forest and Land Fires".
Greenpeace forestry campaign spokesperson Iqbal Damanik said they are urging the presidential and vice presidential candidates (capres-cawapres) to have a serious and concrete commitment to side with the ordinary people and disentangle themselves from the oligarchy's agenda.
"The ordinary people are already feeling the negative impacts of the strengthening political and economic power of the oligarchy in Indonesia over the last few years", said Damanik.
"Such as the threats to democracy and environmental protection, as well as theft of the living space of indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups", he added.
Damanik said that the 2024 elections will take place amid the threat of an increasingly tangible climate crisis and that United Nations has even said that the earth has already entered into an era of global boiling.
"The leaders in office today and in the future must commit to taking serious, real and ambitious climate action to save the earth", he said.
Damanik said that elections often provide a momentum for the oligarchy to perpetuate their influence and power. The oligarchy, said Damanik, "invest" in the elections by financing presidential and vice presidential candidates, legislative candidates, candidate regional heads, political parties and even by running in elections themselves.
Furthermore, Damanik said that the oligarchy has a strong grip on the management of the government in Indonesia and has hijacked the policy-making process.
According to Damanik, the ratification of a series of problematic law such as the revisions to the Corruption Eradication Commission Law (UU KPK), the Mineral and Coal Mining Law (UU Minerba), the Constitutional Court Law (UU MK) and the Omnibus Law on Job Creation (UU Cipta Kerja), is evidence of this.
Likewise, other problematic policies are suspected of being used to benefit businesspeople within the circles of government power.
"Such as the opening the tap on sea sand export permits, the inclusion of coal and palm oil in the taxonomy of green [energy], to using the guise of national strategic projects such as in the construction of food estates, premium tourism on Komodo Island and the Rempang Eco City [project]," he said.
Greenpeace first used the "oligarchy monster" at a peaceful action was on October 5, 2021, as symbol of opposition to the enactment of the Job Creation Law.
Aside from Jakarta, a series of anti-oligarchy actions were also held in other cities this week, including in Sorong on October 5 and Jayapura today. (yla/fra)
[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski based on two articles by CNN Indonesia on October 6. The original title of the lead article was "Aksi Tolak Oligarki Dibubarkan, Aktivis Greenpeace Diamankan Polisi".]