JAKARTA, April 22 (AFP) – Thousands of furious Indonesian factory workers set fire to cars and a warehouse Thursday after an Indian company executive called them “stupid,” police and media reports said.
Nine people were reportedly injured when workers went on the rampage at a factory belonging to PT Drydock World Graha in Batam city, a special economic area south of Singapore.
“An Indian company executive called us, Indonesian workers, ‘stupid’ and this made us very angry,” a worker called Disra was quoted as saying by Antara news agency.
Around 400 police were called to the scene and evacuated 41 unidentified foreign staff from the seaside factory in boats, Antara reported.
Up to 20 cars were set alight, along with a warehouse belonging to the company.
Local police commander Leonidas Braksan addressed the crowd through a loudspeaker and appealed for calm.
“I am on your side. I want you all to keep working well. Your families are waiting for you and your salaries at home,” he said, according to Antara.
He said any foreigner who had insulted Indonesia should leave the country, bringing cheers from the workers who also sang the national anthem and other patriotic songs.
“The workers spontaneously burned cars as they felt offended and angry after a company executive, who is an Indian national, called Indonesian people stupid,” national police spokesman Zulkarnain told AFP.
“The situation is now under control and we escorted the protestors outside the company’s complex.”