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Jakarta Post

Protest runs amok at Tangerang slave factory

  • Multa Fidrus

    The Jakarta Post

Tangerang   /   Tue, May 7, 2013   /  12:06 pm
Protest runs amok at Tangerang slave factory

Flipping out: Angry labor activists and residents on Monday attacked the home of Juki Irawan, the owner of a factory in Sepatan Timur, Tangerang regency, Banten, where 34 workers were kept in a small room with no windows without pay. Juki was arrested on allegations of slavery. JP/Multa Fidrus

About 100 protesters went on the rampage at the so-called slave factory in East Sepatan district in Tangerang, Banten, on Monday.

The demonstration, principally comprised of members of the Benteng Leather, Garment and Textile Workers Association (SPTSK) and the All-Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI), was called after 34 workers were freed from involuntary servitude on Saturday.

The protestors damaged tools and the factory'€™s fence, throwing stones at the house of factory owner Juki Irawan next door, before proceeding to the Lebak Wangi administration office to look for village head Mursan, who is related to Juki.

Unable to find Mursan, protestors then went to his house nearby, where they were met by police officers from the Sepatan subprecinct, who tried to diffuse the situation after the protestors began pelting Mursan'€™s house with stones.

Officers also evacuated Mursan'€™s children and maid from the house.

'€œWe'€™ll go to the Tangerang Police headquarters and demand that the police investigate the slavery case until it is really complete,'€ Benteng SPTSK coordinator Gandhi said.

Umar, a local resident who said that he joined in the mayhem, said people grew angry after learning that the factory owner treated his workers like slaves and allegedly tortured them.

'€œWe are shocked because the village head, who is a younger brother of Juki'€™s wife, [allegedly] protected such actions and always scared off the locals who wanted to know what was going on inside the factory,'€ Umar said.

Dozens of officers from the Tangerang Police arrived to safeguard the location after the protestors left.

Prior to the attack, Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto, who visited the factory, said the Sepatan and Tangerang regency police had been less than responsive in investigating allegations that an Indonesian Military (TNI) member and a member of a local police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) special operations unit in Serang were involved in the case.

'€œWe have heard about the TNI and Brimob personnel who were frequently seen at the factory. We will summon them for clarification,'€ Rikwanto said.

The possible involvement of the village head would also be investigated, the spokesman said.

Late on Friday night, 34 workers from a waste-recycling factory that produced frying pans in East Sepatan were freed from torturous working hours and the treatment meted out to them by their employer for two years.

Tangerang regency police named Juki, along with the firm'€™s four foremen, Tedi, Tio, Dirman and Poldes, suspects for allegedly depriving the 34 individuals of their liberty and for torture. Two other suspects remain at large.

The workers claimed that they were forced to work 18 hours with only two meals a day for no pay, although they were promised a Rp 600,000 (US$62) monthly wage. Their cellular phones, clothes and wallets were confiscated before starting work and they were placed in a 6-by-8 meter room with no windows and shared a single bathroom.

Some workers said that they were crammed into a single bedroom where they had to rest after a long day at work, while others told horrific details about their incarceration, such as using detergent to wash.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said that some of the victims suffered serious burns after working close to a furnace used to boil tin that was used to produce traditional frying pans.

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