Hundreds of complaints of violence, KontraS: “The Police have failed to resolve protests peacefully”

9
KontraS and the Advocacy for Democracy Team have received 390 complaints concerning the brutal mishandling of protests held around the Parliamentary Complex in Jakarta on 24, 25, and 30 September 2019. (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Komisi untuk People Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan – “KontraS”) and the Advocacy for Democracy Team have received 390 complaints concerning the brutal mishandling of protests held around the Parliamentary Complex in Jakarta on 24, 25, and 30 September 2019. 

KontraS’ Bureau of Research, Monitoring, and Documentation staff Rivanlee Anandar reported the number of complaints received until Thursday (03/10/2019) at 21.00 WIB. “We received 390 individual reports from various media. The majority of those lodging reports were college students (201 people), followed by high-school students (50 people), random citizens (28 people), workers and employees (13 people), an online transportation worker (1 person), and 51 people of unknown professions. We have been receiving complaints from the people since 25 September 2019, whether directly, by phone, text message, electronic mail, chain messages, and hashtag notices #HilangAksi (“Missing in Action”) in Twitter,” Rivanlee said in a press conference held at KontraS Office in Jalan Kramat, Kwitang, Central Jakarta, on Friday (04/10/2019).

KontraS noted that the highest number of types of police brutality being reported concerns physical abuse (60 complaints), use of tear gas (61 complaints), wrongful arrest (19 complaints), and stone throwing (4 complaints). Other abuses being complained about are: mobbing, use of rubber bullets, and use of sharp bullets. 150 of these cases occurred in and around the Parliament Complex, i.e. 62 complaints right in front of the Parliamentary Complex, 19 complaints in Palmerah area, 13 complaints in Senayan area, and the rest in front of the Regional Parliamentary Building of each province.

Rivanlee reported part of the results of the Advocacy Team’s verification of these complaints: some victims of the riotous protest sustained injuries such as tears, bruises, and even head wounds. The Advocacy Team will offer legal assistance based on these complaints. Rivanlee stated that taking data of any incidence or type of violence in the field during the actions is far from easy, as many people are reluctant to report exactly what happened at the time, even though many photos show people sustaining bruises and abrasions after the protest ended. “This is our main trouble, that not everyone wants to talk,” he said. 

KontraS reminds the authorities not to act repressively every time a protest takes place. Rivan and the Advocacy of Democracy Team strongly criticize the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and mobbing by authorities when securing protests. Hundreds of complaints from the people and findings at the field show that the Police have failed to handle these large-scale protests. Therefore, KontraS demands a transparent evaluation from the police. “The Police should evaluate and audit the behavior of their members who are proven to have performed violations in the field, so that they be held responsible for their actions – both ethically and legally – for their way of handling the mass protests in 23-30 September 2019,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the Advocacy of Democracy Team of the Civil Community Coalition states that the Police has obstructed the Team and family members from meeting people who were arrested after the protests at the House. “We – including people who wanted to see their arrested family members – are prevented from meeting the suspects,” said Advocacy of Democracy Team member Arif Maulana. He stated that the Police shunted visiting family members from one unit to another, even though some of these family members actually came because they were summoned. Furthermore, Advocacy Team as the team wishing to provide legal assistance also had difficulty in accessing and obtaining information concerning the personal data of the people arrested during the riots. This is contrary to Articles 60 and 61 of the Criminal Code, which states that even convicts are allowed to be visited by their families, and of Article 54 of the Code, which states that even convicts have the right of legal assistance. “However, both we and family members of some of these arrestees cannot meet them,” he said. 

Separately, Advocacy for Democracy Team member Era Purnamasari suspects that violations of human rights are afoot, as legal counsel is restricted from accessing the arrested high school and college students and providing them with legal assistance. “We are requesting the National Commission on Human Rights (Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia – “Komnas HAM”) to come down and ensure that we have better access, and to perform further investigations over the various suspicions of human right violations that occurred during the protests from the 24 to 30 September. We only have the numbers now, but who got arrested and where they come from, for what reasons were they arrested, and their current status – we don’t know any of that,” Era said at Komnas HAM Office on Wednesday (02/10/2019). 

Era and her colleagues also highlight the repressive actions taken by the authorities against the protesters. She stated that what the authorities did was more than disbanding the masses, but a selection and hunt. “Some were arrested even though they were far from the reach of the action. That is a violation of procedures. Furthermore, we don’t know what standards are being used by the police. This is something the Komnas HAM must check,” she said. 

Komnas HAM Commissioner Choirul Anam promised to investigate these complaints. He stated that Komnas HAM has actually met with Metro Jaya Regional Precinct to resolve all existing polemics. “There should be follow-up actions etc., but there is no update yet. They say that they will be establishing a joint post to make access etc. easier, but there is no news about that since then,” he said. 

The Metro Jaya Regional Precinct earlier claimed that it has arrested 1,365 people protesting around the Parliamentary Complex in Jakarta. Of these numbers, 380 were charged and 179 were arrested. They come from various regions, including Depok, Bekasi, Central Java, West Java, even Sumatra. Some of the arrested protesters, being minors, have been returned to their parents. (Dan)