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Jakarta Post

Hundreds remain unaccounted for after jobs law protests

  • A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil
    A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, October 14, 2020   /   02:07 pm
Hundreds remain unaccounted for after jobs law protests Arrested protesters are assembled at the Jakarta Police headquarters in Central Jakarta on Oct. 9. The police arrested more than 1,000 people during demonstrations against the Job Creation Law in the capital last week. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Some 208 people remain unaccounted for following mass demonstrations against the controversial Job Creation Law last week, which resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 protesters in the capital city.

According to data obtained by a coalition of civil society groups called the Democracy Advocacy Team, 524 people had been reported missing or arrested as of Tuesday afternoon.

Of the figure, 316 people had been released, while the whereabouts of the remaining 208 people were unknown, said Muhammad Afif Abdul Qoyim, a member of the team and the director of the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat).

“We are still updating the data since we are still receiving reports through our hotline and our field team,” Afif told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The Jakarta Police previously said they had arrested at least 1,192 protesters during the rallies in the capital on Oct. 8, most of whom were high school students who, the police claimed, “came to deliberately incite riots”.

Afif said the team could not yet confirm whether the 524 reported people were included in the Jakarta Police figure.

“We are still not sure because the Jakarta Police have not given us much information about the names of the detainees, the processing of their arrests, where they are being detained or what charges that they are up against,” Afif said.

Read also: Hundreds arrested in Jakarta as clashes break out in protests against jobs law

The advocacy team had difficulty contacting detainees and instead had to rely on reaching out to them through their relatives and friends, based on the reports and data collected by the team.

“This is the same pattern that we faced in September of last year. The police did not reveal the names [of the detainees] immediately. They only did so a few days after the arrests,” Afif added.

From Sept. 24 to Sept. 30, 2019, activists and university students staged a series of protests in front of the House of Representatives in opposition to a number of controversial bills that the House was discussing at the time.

According to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the police arrested 1,489 people during protests in Jakarta and named 380 of them suspects for crimes.

Although some of the detainees from last week’s protests have been released, Afif reminded the police on Tuesday that they should follow proper legal procedures from the initial arrest to the naming of a suspect.

“[The police should act] based on valid information and adequate information. They cannot do anything harshly, especially during a situation in which people are voicing their opinions in public,” he said.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus was not immediately available for comment when the Post contacted him on Tuesday.