Human Rights Activists Condemn Police Brutality on University Students in Indonesia
3 June 2008 2:28 am
Human Rights activists are up in arms over the recent incident of police brutality on National University of Jakarta students. Police barged into the campus ground, chased and attacked students who were rallying against the government’s decision to raise the prices of fuel.
The groups want action to be taken on the police force for its unprofessional behavior; and urged the government to ensure that freedom of expression and opinion are protected in the spirit of reformasi (reforms).
(Bangkok) Human Rights activists in Indonesia have condemned the recent incident of police brutality on students from the National University of Jakarta who rallied against the government’s decision to raise the prices of fuel.
In a joint press statement issued on 25 May, four organisations – Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Legal Aid Jakarta (LBH), Indonesia Legal Aid Association (PBHI) and Legal Aid Association (PBHI) Jakarta – said that the government has not changed its attitude and apparatus towards freedom of expression and opinion, other than to treat it with violence and arms.
The incident of abuse within the campus ground was “a reflection of the failure of Susilo’s government”, added the organisations, who comprise of Indonesians lawyers and activists.
“The state and its apparatus, such as the police have buried the message of reforms which prioritise democracy. At the same time, this proves that there is yet reforms in the Indonesian Police force,” the group added.
The armed violence by the police in the university campus was due to Susilo’s policy on 24 May to burden the people with a 28.7 percent increase of fuel price, claimed the activists.
His “unintelligent” policy also caused social upheaval within the community, they added.
The organisations called for legal action against the police force as violent acts such as causing disturbances in the campus and beating up students was unacceptable and must be resolved with proper laws.
This was part of the state’s strategy using instruments of the police force to oppress Indonesians. Meanwhile, Indonesian students have been accused of consuming illegal drugs, and this was clearly unacceptable.
However, the group rejected all issues, discussions and propaganda information on the use of illegal drugs by students to divert the attention of the public from the issue of police brutality and the rise in oil prices.
“Police chief General Sutanto must uphold the principles and ethics of police professionalism. Raids accompanied by beatings, damages, incitement by the police are acts which do not reflect the professionalism of the police as the protector of the community,” said the group.
They called for stern action again the officers who were “brutal and unprofessional”; and urged the government to ensure freedom of expression and opinion. This guarantee is enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is important to control state policies which often cause sufferings to the people.