Fajar Pebrianto, Jakarta – Member of the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) House of Representatives (DPR) Law Commission, Benny Kabur Harman, has called for the National Police Chief to free the local residents who protested against Komodo Island's Rp3.75 million entry fee that the government imposed, a decision which many local tourism businesses are against.
Citing a report from a local protestor, Rio Prakoso, the DPR legislator said on August 3, "Police forces captured at least 10 people. I plead for you to free them all soon."
The Democrat Party member said protests and demonstrations are guaranteed under the 1945 Constitution and that police are not permitted to respond to public protests with acts of violence.
"If the people of Labuan Bajo demonstrate asking for an explanation or rejecting the increase in tariffs for entering KNP, don't deal with it with violence," he said. They demanded the government cancel the increase in the Komodo National Park Rp 3.75 million per person entry fee, which many fear will greatly reduce the livelihood of local tourism businesses.
Apart from arrests, police have reportedly conducted repressive acts. The chairman of the West Manggarai Tourism Rescue Community Forum, East Nusa Tenggara, Rafael Todo Wela, for example, was beaten three times by the officers who broke up a peaceful demonstration by the Labuan Bajo community two days ago, with video recording as proof.
Rafael is the coordinator of the peaceful protest against the tariff increase on Komodo Island.