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Jakarta Post

Police used 'excessive force' during omnibus Jobs Law protests: Activists

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, October 10, 2020   /   07:05 am
Police used 'excessive force' during omnibus Jobs Law protests: Activists Three men carry another man who was injured on Thursday during a protest against the passing of the omnibus jobs law on Jl. M.H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Activists have accused the police of using excessive force against protesters and journalists during Thursday's protests against the omnibus Job Creation Law, with hundreds of reported cases of alleged assault and of missing people.

As of Friday afternoon, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) had received some 1,500 complaints about alleged violence by security forces during a three-day wave of demonstrations from Tuesday to Thursday across the nation.

Kontras coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti admitted to being overwhelmed by the large data of victims the commission needed to recapitulate, saying staff were still trying to determine in which areas most of the cases had occurred.

The police were said to have “simultaneously” obstructed access to the victims of violence and those whose contact had been lost, most of whom were believed to have been detained by the police, she claimed.

“We are still in the recapitulation process. Access to assistance has also been blocked by the police. This is the same pattern in all police stations in Jakarta, even outside Jakarta,” Fatia said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.

Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) has received 288 reports about the rallies relating mostly to the arrest of protestors.

Read also: Jokowi dismisses criticism of omnibus jobs law as hoax news

The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) accused police personnel of using excessive force against the protestors.

“Most of those arrested experienced violence. But we’ve only had time to compile those arrested and have not had the chance to interview all of them,” YLBHI chairwoman Asfinawati told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) noted that at least seven journalists had fallen victim to violence by members of the police during Thursday’s demonstration.

They include three journalists from online media, with two of them allegedly being beaten by police officers who suspected them of recording the police. The police also detained several members of the student press who covered the chaotic protests.

The Indonesian Ombudsman said that it would monitor the process of how the police had handled the demonstrations.

“We will also ascertain the allegations of maladministration in relation to denying legal access to [detainees],” Jakarta Ombudsman chairman Teguh P. Nugroho said in a statement on Friday.

Jakarta Police spokesperson Comr. Yusri Yunus said the Jakarta Police had apprehended 1,192 protesters, who he said were mostly high school students who joined the protests to deliberately incite riots.

Read also: Thousands arrested, over 100 injured in jobs law protests

However, all those detained, both at the Jakarta Police headquarters and at local police stations, had been released.

“We did hold them yesterday. They have been sent home. Those in police stations had returned home as of last night,” Yusri said on Friday.

Yusri said investigators had uncovered text messages asking students to incite riots during the rally. The police also claimed that certain people sponsored their trips to the capital by paying for their bus or train tickets.

The authorities have been in the spotlight for their repressive approach to handling demonstrators since last year.

Several protestors went missing during the #reformasidikorupsi (reform corrupted) protests in late September last year against the amendment to the KPK Law and other controversial bills such as the revision of the Criminal Code.

Kontras received at least 390 complaints of violence by the authorities during last year’s mass protests. Two students at Halu Oleo University in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, were shot dead by the police. A member of local police officers were named suspects in relation to the deaths.