The Jakarta Post
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) has called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to conduct a thorough audit and evaluation of the National Police for its personnel's alleged use of excessive force against Jobs Creation Law protesters.
From Oct. 6 to 8, the commission received and collected some 1,900 photos and videos taken at various locations reportedly showing police brutality against students, activists, workers, journalists and residents who happened to be at the protest sites.
“The documentation shows the violence committed by police officers who intimidated demonstrators by repeatedly swearing, firing water cannons and tear gas, hitting, kicking and attacking them,” KontraS director Fatia Maulidiyanti said in a written statement on Saturday.
These repeated acts of violence reflected Jokowi’s negligence toward human rights violations carried out by the police, she added.
“We urge President Jokowi to instruct the National Police to enforce the law against all incidents of violence and human rights violations committed by its officers, with the involvement of independent external monitoring institutions and civil society.”
KontraS also urged Jokowi to optimize the internal and external correction mechanisms of the regional police to examine all cases of police brutality, as well as to evaluate the performance of National Police chief Gen. Idham Azis in addressing police brutality during protests.
Riots broke out across the country as labor unions and university students protested the controversial jobs law, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Oct. 5.
Fatia further noted that the same pattern of alleged police brutality had happened last year in various protests, including the May Day protest in Bandung, West Java, and the #ReformasiDikorupsi (Corrupt Reform) protests across the country in September 2019.
“[During the protests] there was excessive force, inhumane punishment, obstruction of access to legal aid and the absence of serious investigations and legal proceedings against the police officers who allegedly committed the violence,” she said.
Neither spokespersons of the National Police, Insp. Gen. Argo Yuwono and Brig. Gen. Awi Setiyono, had responded to The Jakarta Post’s request for comment at the time of writing.
However, responding to KontraS’ video showing alleged police brutality, Awi said on Thursday that it was prejudiced against the police.
“The video only shows clips from the protests that aim to discredit the police,” Awi said as quoted by kompas.com.
He argued that the police personnel’s actions, such as grabbing and pushing protestors, had been within reason.
“Riots erupted [at the protests], people were throwing [things] and pushing each other. The police [tried] to prevent both police personnel and protestors from getting hit. Therefore, [the perpetrators] were immediately pulled [away from the scene].”