Amnesty International Indonesia disappointed with 21-22 May’s violence investigation

Demonstrators clashing with the police during the 22 May Protest in front of the Election Monitoring Agency (Badan Pengawas Pemilihan Umum – “Bawaslu”) office, Jakarta, on Wednesday (22/5/2019). The protest was held in response to the results of the 2019 Simultaneous Elections’ national vote count. (photo: IO/Yoga)

IO, Jakarta – The explanation issued by the Police Force of the Republic of Indonesia in a press conference held on 11 June 2019 relating to the violence that occurred on 21-22 May failed to reveal critical realities about the nine victims who died in the incident. “It is a large disappointment to see current developments in the investigation of dead victims and responsible perpetrators. The narrative has developed towards a ‘rioter vs. police’ frame,” observed Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid in a written statement released to the press (14/06/2019).

Amnesty International Indonesia admitted that the police were in a tight situation when they were targeted for an attack by a number of local people following the peaceful protest held on the night of 21 May. This is demonstrated by the high number of injured police officers. Even though the police admitted that the protest went off peacefully, they neglect to explain the shootings that caused deaths among the people. “The narrative in the press conference is directed towards framing all the dead victims as ‘rioters’. It seems to attempt to ‘normalize’ their deaths as a logical consequence of their own actions in the ‘riot’. The police should have revealed sufficient evidence about the victims’ deaths, then named those suspected of having shot them,” he said.

Usman stated that he has met with a number of the victims’ families, who expressed hope that the perpetrators of the murders are found and taken to court. “The victims’ families expect that the police will name the killers of these victims to the public, but instead they are given a one-sided explanation that they were all ‘rioters’. These deaths must be accounted for,” he said.

Another thing that the police failed to express is their accountability for the use of excessive force by a number of police officers during the protest, among others the suspicion of torture that occurred in Kampung Bali, Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta. “We have not heard any explanation at all concerning the incident of excessive use of force by the police. Brimob members who hit and abused citizens in Kampung Bali must be subject to fair legal prosecution. The Brimob Commander must also be held accountable for the brutalities of his men,” Usman said. (Raihan)