Motorists stop to salute the Indonesian flag along a road in Malang, in Indonesia's East Java province to mark the country's 76th Independence Day. ( AFP / Aman Rochman)

Posts mislead on right to display Indonesian flag on Independence Day in Jakarta district

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

A video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in social media posts alongside a claim it shows people were banned from displaying the Indonesian flag on the country's Independence Day in a district in the capital Jakarta. The claim is misleading: the video shows an incident in which Jakarta authorities prevented a group from displaying a large national flag because they said it could attract a crowd, breaching pandemic restrictions. AFP found videos on social media that show other Indonesian flags were displayed in the same district on Independence Day.

The one-minute, 17-second video was posted on Facebook here on August 18, 2021. 

It shows police officers and municipal police officers setting up a roadblock on a bridge at Pantai Indah Kapuk in Jakarta.

A man behind the camera claims that people were not allowed to unfurl the country's flag on Independence Day.

The post's Indonesian-language caption reads: "PATHETIC.... ON THE 76TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDONESIAN INDEPENDENCE.

"The red-and-white flag was prohibited from being hoisted at pantai indah kapuk, JAKARTA.
(The residents are majority Chinese/Chinese foreign workers).

"THAT MEANS CHINA HAS DARED TO TREAD ON THIS COUNTRY'S DIGNITY. We seek refuge in Allah..."

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on September 11, 2021

The Indonesian flag is usually hoisted across the Southeast Asian country to celebrate Independence Day, which is marked on August 17. 

Pantai Indah Kapuk — popularly known by its acronym PIK — is a district in the northern part of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.  

An Indonesian paramilitary organisation called Laskar Merah Putih, or Red-White Soldiers, planned to display a 21-metre-long Indonesian flag at a bridge in PIK on August 17, 2021.

The group, however, was prevented from displaying the flag by authorities, as reported by Indonesian media outlets Detik.com here and Okezone here

The group's leader said it wanted to challenge "people's assumptions that PIK belongs to foreigners" and hoisting the flag would prove that the district "is part of Indonesia's territory", according to the media reports.

The video has been viewed more than 600,000 times after it appeared with a similar claim on Facebook here, here, here and here; on YouTube here, herehere and here; as well as on Twitter here

However, the claim is misleading. 

Social distancing rules

In a video posted on his YouTube channel on August 18, 2021, Jakarta's Deputy Governor Ariza Patria clarified there was no ban on displaying the national flag.

He said: "There is no prohibition to display the red-and-white flags. We allow flags to be on display. What was prohibited was a throng of people while they displayed the 21-metre-long flag."

Ariza went on to say: "Please display the flag as long as it does not create a gathering of people, coordinate it well".

North Jakarta police chief Guruh Arif Darmawan said that police did not prohibit people from displaying the national flag at PIK.

"We banned people from gathering and we didn't want a new [Covid-19] cluster, the point was like that," he said on August 18, 2021, as quoted by local news outlets Tempo.co and CNN Indonesia

National flags

Indonesian flags were actually spotted on the streets of PIK on Independence Day on August 17, 2021, as shown in clips posted on YouTube here and here

Below are screenshots of the two YouTube videos, with the the Indonesian flags marked in red by AFP: 

Screenshots of the YouTube videos