Tear Gas @ Ras Muhamad's Book Launch in Jakarta, Indonesia
02/23/2013 by Markus Hautmann
Who want the dancehall to stop? Brutal police action at Ras Muhamad's book launch in Jakarta, Indonesia [February 17th 2013]
A scenario similar to the one described in Anthon B's quoted hit song "Police" occurred at the official book launch of "Negeri Pelangi/Rainbow Country", the story of Muhamad's travels to Ethiopia and his vision of Rastafari. Ras Muhamad, dubbed the "Indonesian Reggae Ambassador" is a public figure in Indonesia, known from his nationwide weekly reggae radio show and his frequent concert and TV appearances. Some of his videos have more than one million views on youtube. Last year he burst into the international reggae scene with several releases on European labels such as Oneness or Irievibrations.
On Sunday, February 17th, the Tea Box Cafe in South Jakarta saw the launch of Negeri Pelangi. The event was that popular that it was not only attended by the Indonesian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs but also by too many fans of which only a part were able to gain access to the venue. After the press conference police showed up and attacked the waiting fans with tear gas. Whereas police claims that they were called from the cafe owner because people were rioting, Ras Muhamad told Reggaeville that the fans behaved properly and stood in line waiting for their turn to get inside. Regardless of the actual happenings, it is questionable if a tear gas attack is the right means to disband an assembly of music fans. More so as we are not talking about thousands of people but a mere 200.
The NGO organization Indonesia Police Watch speaks of an "unprofessional and brutal" police action and called for the dismissal of the South Jakarta police chief. Ras Muhamad couldn't hide his shock when telling Reggaeville: "I don't think in this age and time of the millennium you ever heard of a Reggae musician being tear gassed, let alone at his book launching book party."
Some additional infos:
- Police Defend Use Of Tear Gas At Chaotic Book Launch [The Jakarta Post 2/19/2013]
- Pertunjukkan Musik Ras Muhamad Ricuh [MetroTvNews 2/18/2013]