Residents of Jakarta red-light district set to resist eviction
THE plan to close down Jakarta's biggest red-light district by next month might see violent clashes between the security authorities and the residents of Kalijodo, whose lawyer said they would resist eviction, the local media reported.
The stakes rose yesterday after army strategic commander Edy Rahmayadi said he supports Jakarta governor Basuki Purnama Tjahaja's plan to purge Kalijodo of vice activities as the capital should be an exemplary city for the country, the Kompas online portal reported.
On Tuesday, Razman Nasution, the lawyer representing Kalijodo residents, said the police and the army should not join in oppressing them and called for dialogue with the Jakarta administration, the Detik news website reported.
He said all Kalijodo residents would refuse low-cost apartments offered by the government and would continue to fight for their right to live in the district.
Mr Basuki, an ethnic Chinese-Indonesian whose more widely known name is Ahok, yesterday dismissed allegations that his administration had been using intimidation tactics to force out Kalijodo residents.
Mr Basuki told the media yesterday that most of the sex workers in Kalijodo would leave upon receiving eviction letters as they are not Jakarta natives and do not have the city's ID card.
His administration has announced it will provide housing units only for families who have Jakarta ID cards.
Also, it would offer skills training to those who are legitimate Jakarta residents to help them change occupations.
According to data from Kalijodo's local authority, there are 3,052 residents in the 1.6ha district, among whom 1,405 are involved in red-light-district businesses, with sex workers numbering about 450.
Mr Basuki, who came to office in late 2014, announced the plan to clear Kalijodo - which straddles north and west Jakarta and has been a seedy district since the Dutch colonial time - following a drink-driving accident in the area on Feb 8 that killed four people.
But according to Mr Razman, Mr Basuki has targeted Kalijodo because it was home to "low-class prostitution" as some red-light hot spots in upmarket areas were overlooked.