The Jakarta Post
Police officers from the East Jakarta Police have been involved in a clash with hundreds of residents of Jl. Pemuda in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, in relation to a land dispute.
During the clash, police officers used tear gas, reportedly injured a number of residents and arrested Jakarta Legal Aid (LBH) lawyer Hendra Supriatna ' who represents the residents ' for allegedly being a provocateur in the incident.
Hendra said Thursday that after being arrested, he was forced by officers to stay at the police station for several hours before he could negotiate his way out.
'The police accused me of provoking the clash but they could not prove that. I am a legal representative for the local Rawamangun residents in the land dispute and I was at the scene to do my job,' Hendra told a press conference at the LBH office in Menteng, Central Jakarta.
The dispute started in September 2013 when William Silitonga, a businessman, filed a report with the East Jakarta Police alleging that residents in the area had trespassed on his property, a 2,900-square-meter plot of land.
According to Hendra, most of the 150 families involved, many of whom have lived in the disputed area for at least 20 years, were the legitimate owners of the land, which could be proven with land-owner certificates.
'Some of them do not have the certificates but they have been living there for more than 40 years,' he told reporters.
Hendra added that William, or anyone who tried to claim the land, must file a civil lawsuit and provide evidence in court. However, he continued, William filed a police report and unilaterally claimed the land.
On Wednesday, officers from the National Land Agency (BPN) were escorted by police officers to measure the land in the area.
Samsul Hidayat, one of the local residents, said that a moment before the clash, residents had tried to negotiate with the officers and demand that they leave the location because tensions were high at the time.
'The residents were so angry because we believe the police did not have the right, even to just measure the land. We asked them to leave but they refused to do so,' Samsul said.
Meanwhile, East Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Priyo Widiyanto admitted that there was a clash in Rawamangun when BPN officers tried to measure the disputed area, but denied that it was triggered by the police.
'If the local residents have valid proof that they live there legitimately, they should show it to us. As far as I know, the legitimate owner of the land is William,' Priyo told The Jakarta Post.
Priyo further said that police officers had arrested Hendra because he could not show the police proof of power of attorney for the residents when the incident took place.
'We released him as soon as we confirmed he was their lawyer,' he said.
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