INDONESIA: Peaceful public protest attacked and dispersed
ISSUES: Freedom of expression and opinion, human rights defenders, fair trial, legal aid
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from a national human rights organization, the Commission for the Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS), regarding the brutal attack and forced dissolution of a peaceful public protest organized by the Papuan university students. Police and vigilante groups attacked the students, resulting in many student injuries and trauma. There has been no proper investigation undertaken by the law enforcement agency, and there is no guarantee and protection to exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion.
On Monday, April 7, 2019, Papuan university students along with Indonesian People Forum for West Papua (Fri West Papua) organized a peaceful public protest in front of the Town Hall of Malang City, East Java province.
A mob made its way to the town hall, followed by several police vehicles. When they arrived at the town hall, the mob began forcibly removing protesters from the line of the demonstration and pushing them towards the city hall fence.
Based upon information we received, the brutal attack started when one of the Police Resort Intelligence of Malang City Police Office (Polres Malang), Mr. Adi Fajar, accused the banner related to the general election in April 2019, which said “abstain from voting” of falling within the definition of a criminal act that can be prosecuted before the criminal court. Subsequently, police officers and some people wearing civilian clothes (some of them wearing masks) suddenly attacked, beat, kicked, pushed and threw stones at the protesters. They also threw coffee mixed with chili at them. Then, the police forced the protesters to board the police vehicles and brought them to the bus terminal Landungsari.
Please write to the authorities. Ask them to ensure that the law enforcement agency investigates the incident and prosecutes those responsible for attacking the peaceful protest. The government must ensure and guarantee that all civil society can exercise their right to freedom of expression and opinion without restriction.
The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression.