Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – A journalist was reportedly assaulted by members of the Jakarta Police while covering widespread protests against the recently passed and highly controversial Job Creation Law on Thursday.
Peter Rotti, a journalist for Suara.com, was allegedly beaten by the police while covering a protest on Jl. MH. Thamrin in Central Jakarta after he recorded a video of officers allegedly attacking a protester near a bus stop.
Suara.com editor in chief Suwarjono said that at about 6 p.m., Peter and his colleague Adit Rianto S., a videographer, were filming a live report on the demonstrations for the outlet's YouTube channel.
"Seeing Peter filming the police assaulting a student participant, an officer dressed in black civilian clothes suddenly approached him," Suwarjono said in a statement.
Six police officers believed to be members of the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) also came up to him, Suwarjono said. The officers reportedly asked for Peter's camera, but he declined to hand it over and explained that he was a journalist.
Suwarjono said one of the police officers asked for the camera's memory card. Peter again declined but said he would delete the recording.
The police then took away Peter's camera, Suwarjono said, and dragged him away while beating him.
"I explained that I was a journalist, but they still grabbed and dragged me. I was dragged and beaten until my hands and temples were bruised," said Peter.
After confiscating the camera, Peter said, the police took away the memory card, which contained footage of students protesting near the horse statue in the National Monument (Monas) area.
"They eventually returned my camera, but they took my memory card," he said.
Suwarjono condemned violence against journalists and urged authorities to investigate the case thoroughly.
Merahputih.com journalist Ponco Sulaksono, who was also covering the demonstration in the Monas area late on Thursday evening, has reportedly gone missing.
The media outlet said in a statement that Ponco had sent reports on the protest to the newsroom before he was apprehended by the police as clashes broke out in the afternoon.
The editorial team has asked for information from the Gambir Police, the Central Jakarta Police and the Jakarta Police and has searched a number of hospitals around the Gambir area, but Ponco's whereabouts remain unknown.
The company said several people nearby saw Ponco fall to the ground amid the chaos in Tugu Tani, Central Jakarta, although the information has not been confirmed.
The team has reported the case to the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers).
Some protesters have also reportedly gone missing. They are believed to have been apprehended by security personnel, according to LBH Jakarta.