Poso locals allege police brutality in recent raids
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Innocent citizens were again held by Poso Regency Police officers for questioning after the shooting of police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) members in Kalora village, Poso Pesisir Utara on Dec. 12.
Although they were released on Dec. 27 afternoon, the 14 residents of Kalora Village and Tambarana Village in Poso Pesisir Utara district were severely bruised after apparently being beaten by the police.
They said while undergoing questioning on Dec. 20 at the Poso Police station, they were beaten, kicked and even given electric shocks so they would admit their involvement with an armed civilian group in Poso.
Kalora resident M. Jufri, 32, said he did not know anything when Brimob members arrived and asked him to follow them to a security post.
“At the post, they hit me and trampled on my leg. My head was also bleeding, but I don’t know what hit me as I passed out. They also hit my eye and face,” Jufri told The Jakarta Post.
Syafruddin, 50, also experienced a similar ordeal. The man, who teaches at SMP 1 junior high school in Poso Pesisir Utara, suffered bruises all over his body. He claimed he was roughed up at the Kalora village security post.
At the Poso Police station, he was held with a blindfold over his eyes for three days. Syafruddin’s family has demanded the police issue a public apology through the media.
The police used the Terrorism Law when they arrested Syafruddin, whose family was not given access to him for seven days, after which he was released without being charged.
Poso Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Eko Santoso said the residents had suffered wounds before they were brought to the police station.
“They have been released as they were not found to be involved in acts of terrorism after being questioned. However, we have apologized over the matter,” said Eko.
The Central Sulawesi Police have formed a special tem to investigate the allegations of police brutality. In a press release on Friday, Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Dewa Parsana said the team, made up of seven internal affairs and Brimob personnel, was currently in Poso to examine the case.
“Besides questioning police personnel, the team will also gather the victims’ testimony,” Parsana said.
He added if the team found strong evidence of violations committed by police personnel, he would take stern action and impose stiff sanctions on those responsible. He also expressed hope that the identities of those involved in the brutality against the five residents would be uncovered in the near future.
The 14 residents were detained following an attack by a group of armed civilians on Brimob personnel who were on patrol in Kalora village. Four Brimob members were shot and killed in the incident, while the attackers fled.
Poso was the scene of sectarian conflict between 1998 and 2000. In 2000, thousands of Muslims and Christians were either killed or declared missing. In 2001, the Malino peace declaration was signed, bringing most communal conflicts to an end, yet small groups continue to carry out violent attacks.