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Video does not show ‘expulsion of Chinese citizens from Indonesian city’

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An old video has been reshared in 2024 alongside a false claim it shows Chinese citizens being expelled from a city on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The video has circulated in social media posts since 2023 about a demonstration against a mining company on Sulawesi island, in eastern Indonesia.

“The expulsion of Chinese citizens in Pakan Baru started today, so that other areas are to follow as soon as possible,” reads the Indonesia-language caption of this Facebook post published on March 8, 2024.

“Pakan Baru” refers to Pekanbaru, a city on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. 

The 51-second video shows a group of people shouting angrily and turning vehicles over in a compound surrounded by trees.

Come on the cities of Padang, Medan, Jambi, Lampung, Palembang don’t just stay still without unity!!!!” the caption continues, referring to major cities in Sumatra.

<span>Screenshot of the false post captured on March 19, 2024</span>

Screenshot of the false post captured on March 19, 2024

Government data shows Chinese workers comprise the majority of foreign workers in Indonesia, with around 76,000 Chinese workers recorded in Indonesia as of November 2023 (archived links here and here).

Similar false posts shared the footage on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and on video-sharing-platform SnackVideo, racking up more than 27,000 views.

However, the claim is false. The original video has circulated online since September 2023 in posts about a protest at a gold mining company on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

There are also no credible reports about Chinese citizens being expelled from Pekanbaru on March 8, 2024.

‘Protest against mining company’

A combination of Google reverse image and keyword search on Facebook found a longer version of the video published on Facebook on September 22, 2023 (archived link).

According to the caption of the 45-minute, 30-second video, thousands of gold miners protested at PT PETS, in Pohuwato regency, Gorontalo province.

PT Puncak Emas Tani Sejahtera (PETS) is a gold mining company located in Gorontalo, Sulawesi island (archived links here and here). The company manages the Pani Gold Project mine (archived link) .

On September 21, 2023, local media reported that protesters vandalised and burned PT PETS’ office during a demonstration to protest the company’s activities that allegedly had negatively impacted the environment (archived link).

AFP also reported on a protest on the same day in Pohuwato. Several arrests were made, police said.

The clip in the false posts corresponded with the scenes seen in the 2023 video from its seven-minute and 37-second mark.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the video in the false post (left) and the original video (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison between the video in the false post (left) and the original video (right)</span>

Screenshot comparison between the video in the false post (left) and the original video (right)

AFP found another report about the protest with corresponding footage, published by local broadcaster Kompas TV Gorontalo (archived link).

In its report, Kompas TV Gorontalo said that a protest at a mining company in Pohuwato regency ended in chaos on September 21, 2023.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the video in the false post (left) and the Kompas TV Gorontalo video (right), with similarities circled by AFP:

<span>Screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the Kompas TV Gorontalo video (right)</span>

Screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the Kompas TV Gorontalo video (right)

AFP previously debunked false and misleading claims about foreign Chinese workers and citizens in Indonesia here, here, here and here.

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