JAKARTA – Two hundred and fifty-seven people have been arrested following deadly protests in the Indonesian capital against the re-election of President Joko Widodo, police said on Thursday.
At least six people have died and more than 200 have been wounded since the riots started on Tuesday.
The clashes between police and hundreds of followers of the losing candidate, ex-army general Prabowo Subianto, have paralyzed central Jakarta for two days.
On Wednesday night, protesters threw flares, stones and other objects at the riot police, who responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and selective arrests outside the headquarters of the Elections Supervisory Agency and the surrounding areas.
Jakarta police spokesperson Prabowo Argo Yuwono said at a press conference that the arrests were made in connection to the destruction of public property and inciting violence.
The fatalities resulted from bullet wounds and blunt objects, according to the police, who denied the use of live ammunition and accused the rioters of using firearms.
The official number of those wounded is 200, although sources from several hospitals told the official Indonesian news agency Antara that that figure exceeds 350, many of whom have already been discharged.
Security Minister Wiranto announced on Wednesday certain restrictions of social media, such as distributing pictures and videos on WhatsApp in certain areas to prevent the spread of rumors, false information and the escalation of violence.
During his tenure, Joko Widodo strengthened the government’s ability to fight fake news on the internet, which have been used to slander him, accuse him of being a communist or of being pro-Chinese, as well as to question his religious faith in the Muslim-majority country.
One of the rumors circulating on social media has accused Chinese foreign agents of the death of the protesters in recent days to foment anti-Chinese sentiment.
The Chinese are a minority community in Indonesia and have previously faced discrimination and persecution.
Prabobo, who refuses to admit defeat in the election, courted the Muslim vote and has allied himself with Islamist groups which led the protests. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, where over 87 percent of the population are followers of Islam.
The Elections Commission of Indonesia Tuesday announced the victory of Widodo with 55.5 percent of the votes as against 44.5 percent secured by his rival Prabowo in the April 17 elections.