JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian police have arrested 43 people accused of causing a riot and attacking police during a protest over a plan to relocate communities for a multi-billion dollar industrial park, police said on Tuesday.
Violent scenes erupted on Monday on Rempang island, located about 44 km (27 miles) from Singapore, where about 1,000 demonstrators had gathered in front of the office of BP Batam, one of the developers of the planned Rempang Eco City.
Video footage on local media showed demonstrators hurling bottles and rocks at police and breaking down a fence, with officers responding with water canon and tear gas.
Rempang Eco City will be home to a factory operated by Chinese glass producer, Xinyi Glass Holdings Ltd, which has committed to build an $11.5 billion quartz sand processing plant at the park.
“We arrested them because of vandalism and opposing police,” said Pandra Arsyad, spokesperson of Riau Island police, adding the protesters were dispersed by late afternoon.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said the government planned to provide land and a house to each of the residents as compensation for relocating.
“But this was not well communicated to the people. So, it became a problem,” he said, referring to the protest.
Residents were reluctant to move having lived on the land for many years, said Ariastuty Sirait, a spokesperson for BP Batam, adding they would receive cash assistance until new settlements were completed and about 700 families would be relocated in the first stage.
(Reporting by Ananda Teresia; Editing by Martin Petty)