A video showing Jambi riot police fighting among themselves after an undercover officer was mistaken for a protester and beaten by a fellow officer has gone viral on social media amid widespread reports of police brutality during the protests.
In the video, police officers in plain clothes detain a protester wearing a green Batanghari University jacket, while other officers punch the protestor and hit him with a baton.
A police officer wearing riot gear then hits a man carrying a backpack with a baton, apparently mistaking him for a protester.
A man in the crowd wearing a grey hoodie, allegedly another undercover police officer, shouts, “Don’t hit him! That’s a police officer!”
The man in the hoodie and the officer in riot gear then begin trading blows before being separated by other police officers.
The fight occurred in the Taman Anggrek parking lot near the site of a rally against the Job Creation Law on Jl. Ahmad Yani in Jambi’s Telanaipura district on Tuesday.
Jambi Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Kuswahyudi Tresnadi confirmed the video’s authenticity but denied that the man in the green university jacket was an officer.
“Those who were detained were students who committed violence. [The man in the green jacket] fought back when the police captured him,” Kuswahyudi told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
He said the clash occurred as police officers were arresting the students and an officer got hit. “We are investigating the video further,” he added.
Kuswahyudi said some 20 protesters had been detained at the Jambi Police headquarters.
The Tuesday protest erupted in confusion and chaos at 3 p.m. when police fired tear gas and water cannons into the crowd to disperse the student protesters.
Imam Badawi of the Jambi Students’ and People’s Alliance lamented the police brutality and media reports that framed the students as vandals. “We are student protesters, not criminals,” he said.
Imam added that the alliance had reported episodes of police brutality to Jambi Governor Restuardi Daud, who later invited ten student representatives to his residence for a discussion on Monday.
“However, the government’s answer was very diplomatic. They only said they would investigate the repressive actions,” said Imam.
Universities in Jambi have not made a statement about police brutality against student protesters. Jambi State University rector Sutrisno declined the Post’s request for comment.
Since Oct. 8, students and workers throughout the country have been protesting the Job Creation Law, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Oct. 5 in a rushed process that some experts and activists say was unconstitutional. (aly)