The Jakarta Post
Civil society groups have urged the National Police to stop using repressive measures against protesters taking part in nationwide demonstrations to oppose the recently passed Job Creation Law, or omnibus law.
The call came following reports alleging that police officers did not follow proper procedure or used excessive force to disperse the crowds of protesting students and workers, such as firing tear gas without warning, physically assaulting protesters and forcibly stripping them of their clothing.
Several protesters also claimed that they had been injured as a result of such measures.
Fatia Maulidiyanti of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said the commission had since Thursday evening recorded a number of incidents of police using excessive force against protesters in several cities including Jakarta, Yogyakarta, the East Java capital of Surabaya, the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar and Bandar Lampung, the provincial capital of Lampung. She also alleged that police had assaulted protesters who were taking part in peaceful rallies.
For example in Harmoni, Central Jakarta, Fatia said that police officers reportedly fired tear gas at a group of protesters that was simply waiting for another group.
“We want the police to stop using [excessive] force in dispersing the rallies, as they harm the protesters’ safety,” she said during a virtual press briefing on Thursday evening.
The head of the Inter-Factory Laborers Federation (FBLP), Jumisih, who participated in a demonstration on Thursday, said that the police abruptly fired tear gas at FBLP members as they were marching from City Hall to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry in Central Jakarta.
“We were just peacefully exercising our right to voice our opinions. [So] why did the police repress us, as though we were going to [attack] them?” she said.
“Indonesia is a democratic country. We have the right to voice our opinions, and the police should protect us in exercising that right.”
Thursday saw the third and final day of union plans to hold nationwide demonstrations to protest the Job Creation Law.
Clashes started occurring between police and protesters on the first day of the nationwide movement, with authorities reportedly arresting dozens of protesters across the country.
The protests are demanding the immediate revocation of the new law that the House of Representatives passed on Monday. Scholars, activists and labor leaders have called the law a setback to worker’s rights and environmental protection in the country.
Meanwhile, the government continues to insist that the law was necessary to cut red tape and improve bureaucratic efficiency, particularly to smooth business licensure and attract foreign investment.