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Jakarta Post

Police to get tough on protesters following Makassar clash

  • Yuliasri Perdani and Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, November 15, 2014   /  09:44 am

National Police chief Gen. Sutarman vowed to take stern action against violent protesters in the wake of a clash between Makassar State University (UNM) students and local police personnel in the capital city of South Sulawesi, which left the Makassar City Police'€™s deputy chief seriously injured.

'€œThis is a country of law. Everyone has the right to stage a rally, but if it turns into chaos, we will get tough in enforcing the law, including in the prosecution of the perpetrators,'€ he said in Depok, West Java on Friday.

The protest against the expected fuel-price hikes took an ugly turn when some students began shooting arrows at police personnel guarding the protest site. During the clash, the city'€™s deputy police chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Totok Lisdianto, was shot in the right armpit and was immediately rushed to a local hospital for a surgery.

The arrow attack prompted the police officers to beat and arrest some of the student protesters, who then fled the scene for the campus'€™ classrooms.

Separately, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that the protest did not represent the general view of Makassar students and universities on the government'€™s plan to hike fuel prices.

'€œThe majority of the protests are small-scale, joined by between 10 to 20 individuals. Yesterday'€™s rally became noticeable thanks to the presence of the media. When mass media outlets covered them, they ran amok, but then subsided as the media crew left. That is Makassar'€™s style,'€ Kalla, who hails from the city, told journalists at the vice-presidential palace.

The vice president also applauded the police'€™s swift response in handling the violent protesters.

'€œI appreciate the [South Sulawesi] Police chief who is committed to acting against any individuals who attempt to stir up violence,'€ he said.

During the Makassar clash, police officers allegedly assaulted four photographers and television journalists, who were covering the arrest of the UMN students.

The police forcibly commandeered a memory card from a camera belonging to a photographer from the Koran Tempo newspaper and allegedly attacked a Metro TV correspondent, causing an injury to the latter'€™s left temple. Sutarman regretted the incidents and promised an internal inquiry into the case.

'€œI apologize to my journalist friends. The actions can'€™t be justified and we will uphold the law ['€¦] It was a violation of the police'€™s disciplinary rules and code of conduct,'€ he said, adding that the force was still working to identify the officers responsible for the assault.

A number of journalists'€™ and photojournalists'€™ associations have issued statements condemning the police'€™s heavy-handed approach and demanding a thorough and fair investigation into the incident.

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