Witnesses say the attackers were overtly racist, and all seven men left the scene without getting arrested by police, who were located in the general vicinity.
Weeks ago, on August 26, seven people attacked a man of Chinese ethnicity on a Transjakarta bus near Senayan. The attack was allegedly fueled by racism, and all seven men left the scene without getting arrested by police, who were located in the general vicinity. Andrew Budi Kusuma, the victim, did not hold out much confidence that police would apprehend anyone following what would otherwise be a pointless police report.
“I’m used to racism, but this is the first time I got hurt,” the 23-year-old front end web developer told Detik. Kusuma takes the bus each day to get from his home in Pluit to his place of work in Kuningan. When the bus stopped at Semanggi station, seven men hopped on, and immediately began goading him with racial slurs and other provocations, the victim claimed.
Kusuma said the attackers were rhetorically scouring the bus for Jakarta governor Ahok, who is also of Chinese descent. Soon enough, the group surrounded Kusuma, and began saying things like, “Are you Ahok? You’re Ahok, right?” Kusuma attempted to ignore them despite the close proximity.
According to witnesses, the group also began saying things like, “You want your eyes to be squinted?” They were implying that they would do harm to Kusuma’s face. When the bus reached Senayan, a Transjakarta official boarded and removed everyone involved in the scenario, including Kusuma. The moment they were off the bus, fists and blows began striking Kusuma, who attempted to defend himself with a water bottle. The group quickly overpowered him, but luckily a good samaritan pulled Kusuma back onto the bus right before it drove away.
The victim claimed there were cops around, but no one intervened during the incident, which he said was disappointing. After telling friends and family what happened, Kusuma reported the attack to the police. He did not think any kind results would come from it.
However, on September 1, five of the seven assailants were apprehended by the police. “Thanks to the cooperation of Tambora PD and Transjakarta, through investigation from the CCTV recording, they were able to find out who the culprits were,” said Budi Hermanto, head of the Jakarta Police’s mobile detective unit, as quoted by Kompas. “Someone recognized them as punks that often commit petty crimes in the Tambora area.”
The culprits told authorities they were only joking, but when Kusuma ignored them, they became angry. During the incident, one of the assailants was under the influence of Tramadol, a narcotic-like pain reliever.
Police concluded that while the incident was a violent offense, it was not actually motivated by racism or political strife. The offenders may face up to five years in jail, and authorities expect to catch the remaining two suspects soon.
Ahok chimed in on the matter, saying, “It’s not easy for the officers to fend of that many people. It’s not an action movie, so they must have been scared too. The culprits were cowards who will not be able to continue these acts.”