29 December 2011

Nationwide Protests Decry Mistreatment of Civilians

Protesters march in front of Police Headquarters in Jakarta on Monday. They criticized the police’s shooting of and killing villagers who were rallying in Bima against a gold mining company. The protestors urged the president to remove Chief Police Timur Pradopo. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)

Jakarta Globe. Protesters in cities across the country on Monday continued to voice their outrage over police violence in the recent Sape incident. 

In Malang, East Java, hundreds of students originally from Bima, West Nusa Tenggara, rallied at the city’s main square before heading to the local City Council building to air their grievances. They carried a mock coffin to symbolize the death of human rights. 

The students also called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to dismiss the head of the National Police for what they said was negligence that had allowed the conflict to turn deadly. 

They demanded the resignation of Bima district chief Ferry Zulkarnaen, who had issued the mining exploration permit at issue in the Sape protest. They also called on the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to probe the incident and hold accountable the individuals responsible. 

In Makassar, about 500 members of the “People’s Challenge Front” marched some four kilometers from the Mandala Monument to the Urip Sumoharjo flyover. On the way, they damaged three traffic lights and police posts by pelting them with stones. 

Protester Suhaini Mustamin said the police were behaving repressively toward the people who paid their salaries. 

“This is ironic because it is the people who pay for the police, but the police are killing the people,” Suhaini said. “This is just savage.” 

The group called on Yudhoyono to dismiss the national, provincial, district and subdistrict heads of the police involved in the case. 

In Jakarta, scores of students from Bima held a protest at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout. A scuffle almost broke out as police prevented them from burning a protest banner. 

The protest caused intense traffic congestion, but the demonstrators disbanded when it began to rain. They boarded buses to continue their protest at the office of the National Commission on Human Rights. 

In Mataram, NGO activists and some 700 students from various organizations held a protest at a main roundabout, blocking traffic for more than three hours. 

They slammed the police not just for the shooting but also for the arrests of almost 50 people — including the wounded. 

“This is really making people angry,” said Marzuki, one of the speakers at the protest. 

In Surabaya, the student association of Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-largest Islamic group, held a protest in front of the East Java Police headquarters. They carried posters with harsh words for the police and a president they said had failed to protect citizens. 

In Tuban, East Java, just north of Surabaya, dozens of students, from the local Muhammadiyah Student Association, also held a protest in front of the local district police headquarters, preventing traffic from passing on the road in front of the building.

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