Rights violations: National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) chairman Ifdhal Kasim (left), accompanied by deputy chairman Nur Kholis(center) and member Ridha Saleh, briefs the press on the commission investigation into the Bima incident, at his offi ce in Jakarta on Tuesday. JP/Jerry Adiguna
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said the police deviated from their standard operating procedures (SOP) in dealing with protesters at a demonstration in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara, causing fatalities.
“The police’s actions were not in accordance with the SOP because they used firearms directly without graduating their response levels,” Commission deputy chief Ridha Saleh said on Tuesday.
According to the police SOP No. 1/2009 on anarchy countermeasures, there are six steps which should be taken: prevention, oral instruction, soft-barehanded measures, hard-barehanded measures, blunt weapons usage and lastly use of firearms.
Ridha said the Commission’s investigation results indicated that the police, particularly the Bima Police chief had deliberately given orders to use force in dispersing protesters in Bima.
He added that the protesters were obeying police directions and had put up no resistance nor had they attacked the police but the police still used violence against the protesters including punching, kicking, dragging and shooting at close range.
Komnas HAM chairman Ifdhal Kasim said the commission would hand over the investigation’s result to the National Police on Friday.
“We can analyze all of the data, including ours [Komnas HAM] and whatever the National Police have,” he said.
On Dec. 24, 2011, around 100 local residents and activists demonstrated against the Bima administration by blocking the road to Sape port, demanding the administration revoke the mining permit of PT Sumber Mineral Nusantara due to concerns over the environment and locals’ livelihoods.
So far, the police have named 56 residents and five police officers as suspects in the clash.
Human rights watchdog Imparsial has called on the police to review their SOP on anarchy countermeasures, saying that the SOP themselves were flawed.
“The concept of ‘anarchy’ is open to many interpretations and rather subjective,” Imparsial executive
director Poengky Indiarti told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
She then by way of comparison referred to the United Nation’s guidelines on firearms usage, which forbids police officers using live rounds in any circumstance except where there is a risk of death or serious injury to police officers.
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Haris Azhar said that lately the police had only attempted superficial reform such as improving their image in the media.
“However the substance of the police’s behavior and mindset is still stuck in a pro-violence paradigm,” he said. Adding that real reform only happened among a few conscientious police officers acting personally and was not institutional.
Separately, a coalition of civic groups has said that members of the National Police, who were on duty at the Bima incident had been fully prepared prior to the clash to commit severe human rights violations.
The coalition cited the police’s “systematized plan” which included equipping 500 members at the Sape seaport with firearms, deploying snipers on rooftops, as well as readying ambulances. They said such preparations were an indicator that the police had fully intended to attack the protestors.
The coalition demanded that the government punish the police officers without delay and asked the National Police officials to “stop telling lies”.
National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo has previously defended members of the police who were on duty during the clash, saying that the police had carefully marshaled the demonstrators and that the clash started following sporadic shooting from a distance of 700 to 900 meters.
“The police have been lying about the matter, saying for example that their members were forced to shoot the local residents because they were fighting against the police. We have found that this is not so,” said Kontras coordinator Haris.
Kontras is one of the 46 organizations in the coalition. Others include the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), palm oil business watchdog Sawit Watch, the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) and human rights watchdog Imparsial.
The coalition noted that three people had died and another 80 were seriously wounded, most of whom were women and children.
Additionally, two journalists in Bima were reportedly under serious threat for continuously reporting on the incident. (rpt, msa)