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Jakarta Post

AJI condemns vicious police assault on reporters covering rally

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, December 1, 2015   /  08:30 pm
AJI condemns vicious police assault on reporters covering rally Illustration. (kompas.com)

Illustration. (kompas.com)

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has condemned the police for attacking and threatening several journalists covering a Papuan Students Alliance (AMP) rally at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon.

"The violence inflicted on these journalists is further proof that the police do not understand the duties of a journalist. The reporters were recording events in order to relay them to the public. What happened today was a violation," AJI Indonesia chairman Suwarjono said in a press release on Tuesday evening as quoted by kompas.com.

Suwarjono called on National Police chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti to investigate the police officers responsible for attacking the journalists and confiscating their equipment.

Previously, kompas.com reported that at least three journalists had been injured during the incident, including The Jakarta Post photographer Nabil, Archicco Guilliano from ABC and Stephanie Vaessen from Al Jazeera.

"Guilliano was filming the violence being inflicted on protesters by the police when officers approached him and ordered him to erase the images from his camera," said Suwarjono, adding that when Guilliano had tried to explain that he was an ABC journalist based at the Presidential Palace, the officers had grown impatient and struck him, though other officers are said to have attempted to intervene to prevent any further violence.

Meanwhile, Vaessen was reportedly filming the scene on her mobile phone when she was approached by five police officers who asked her to delete the footage.

"She refused, so the police simply snatched her phone, deleted the footage, returned it to her and left," said Suwarjono.

According to a report by tempo.co, dozens of AMP members were arrested during the rally.

The demonstration saw 150 students gather at two spots at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, causing a traffic jam. Police officers arrived at the scene and asked the protesters to relocate to the House of Representatives complex or the Gelora Bung Karno stadium. When the ralliers declined to move on, officers resorted to force.

The situation quickly became heated, with stones thrown and police officers firing tear gas. Several protesters were injured, while dozens more were detained and taken to the Jakarta Police headquarters.

"Hundreds of our friends were taken to the Jakarta Police headquarters," said AMP chairman Jefri Wenda, adding that the police had also arrested a group of Papuan students arriving from Tangerang.

According to Jefri, police were notified of the planned rally three days prior to the date, but Menteng Police chief Comr. Dedy Tabrani denied permission for the event.

"You can'€™t just announce you'€™re holding a rally, you need to get authorization from us first," Dedy said as quoted by tempo.co.

Up to 500 Papuan students studying in Java and Bali had planned to march from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to the Presidential Palace on Tuesday to demand safeguards on freedom of religion in Papua.

"We also want to remind [the government] that Papua should have been independent since Dec. 1, 1961," said Jefri. (kes)

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