Powerful Photos From Indonesia's Post-Election Protests

Scenes from two days of protest and violence on the streets of Indonesia's biggest city.

by VICE Staff
24 May 2019, 4:19am

Protestors flip-off the police in Central Jakarta on May 22, 2019 during he second night of protests. Photo by Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

It's been a tense two days in the Indonesian capital as thousands of protestors took the streets to demonstrate against the official voter counts declaring incumbent President Joko Widodo the winner of what's been a hotly contested presidential race. The protests, which were somehow both expected and surprising, began peacefully enough with supporters of failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto massing outside the Election Supervisory Agency's (Bawaslu) Central Jakarta headquarters to demand that it re-assess their claims of voter fraud and declare Prabowo the winner.

But each night, the protests took a dangerous turn, shifting into something that looked a lot more like a riot than a peaceful protest as masked men clashed with police in multiple locations throughout Central Jakarta. By the end of it all six were dead, hundreds more injured, and an additional 250-plus behind bars.

What, exactly, happened here? We're still trying to figure that out ourselves. But one thing we know was that these protests were a perfect storm of all the things currently making Indonesia such a polarized place—fake news, the intersection of hardline Islam and politics, and the rise of religious populism.

The protestors' supporters are calling this a sign of "people power"—it's detractors are saying not so fast. But whatever you call the past two days, one thing's for sure—it's all a sign that the election tensions aren't going anywhere any time soon.

Here's what it looked like to be in the middle of it all—from the peaceful protests to the late-night chaos.

A woman wears protective goggles outside the Bawaslu headquarters on the first day of protests, May 21, 2019. Photo by Willy Kurniawan/Reuters
A protestor climbs a lamp post in Central Jakarta on May 22, 2019. Photo by Firman Dicho Rivan
The line between rioters and everyone else. Photo by Firman Dicho Rivan
A police officer peeks out from behind his shield on May 22, 2019. Photo by Firman Dicho Rivan
A man sets fire to a traffic barricade on May 22, 2019. Photo by Willy Kurniawan/Reuters
A member of the National Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) takes aim with a tear gas gun from behind a barricade of shields on May 22, 2019. Photo by Willy Kurniawan/Reuters
Protestors clash with police on Jl MH Thamrin, in Central Jakarta, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Muhammad Adimaja of Antara Foto via REUTERS
A man rides by burned-out police vehicles in Slipi, West Jakarta, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Firman Dicho Rivan
A protestor raises his fist outside the Bawaslu building on May 22, 2019. Photo by Firman Dicho Rivan
Crowds walk by a large Indonesian flag hung outside a local MCDonalds in Central Jakata on May 22, 2019. Photo by Firman Dicho Rivan

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.