Jakarta – The Legal Aid Institute (LBH) in Surabaya, East Java, has lambasted the Kraksaan Police and the Indonesian Military for seizing books believed to contain communist teachings, saying the move was arbitrary and unlawful.
Kraksaan Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel confiscated the books belonging to a literacy community in Probolinggo, East Java, named Vespa Literasi and arrested two of its members. Communism is banned in Indonesia.
In a release made available to The Jakarta Post on Monday, LBH Surabaya said confiscating books was only allowed if the measure was taken after legal proceedings, as mandated by a Constitutional Court decree from 2010.
"Confiscating books without legal proceedings is an extrajudicial process that is not allowed by law," the release said, adding that the TNI's involvement in the move was a form of abuse of power.
The incident also violated Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution, the LBH continued, which guaranteed the freedom of speech, particularly for subjects published in academic form like books.
"We demand that the Kraksaan Police return the books to Vespa Literasi. We also demand the East Java Police chief reprimand the Probolinggo Police chief and sanction the Kraksaan Police chief for what has happened," it said.
The Kraksaan Police also arrested two members of Vespa Literasi. Vespa Literasi allegedly had put on display books about DN Aidit, the leader of the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
"We confiscated four [titles] deemed to be procommunist. Two literacy activists are detained at the Kraksaan Police office. The activists will be released after an intensive investigation. We're developing the investigation to learn where the books came from" Kraksaan Police chief Comr. Joko Yuwono said on Sunday, kompas.com reported.
The books are titled Dua Wajah Dipa Nusantara, Menempuh Djalan Rakjat, DN Aidit Sebuah Biografi Ringkas and Sukarno, Marxisme & Leninisme. "The books have been banned in Indonesia, that's why we seized them," Joko added.
Vespa Literasi is led by Abdul Haq, a university student from Paiton district in the regency. The community usually holds free book-reading sessions in the Kraksaan town square on Saturday nights. (vla)