Jakarta – Three students have been declared suspects after spray painting graffiti on several walls in the East Java city of Malang reading "Tegalrejo in Motion" and calling for resistance against greedy investors or capitalists. Legal aid groups say that the arrest procedures of one of the suspects linked to an anarchist group were problematic.
The three students have been held at the Malang City municipal police detention centre since Monday April 20.
Indonesian police public information division head Senior Commissioner Asep Adi Saputra explained that the graffiti is alleged to be provocative in nature and was drawn on property owned by other people (vandalism).
"The three students in Malang are suspected of committing an act of vandalism on property owned by other people or marking a wall with words which were provocative in nature at six TKP (crime scenes)", he said in an announcement sent via the police's public relations division Instagram account on Wednesday April 22.
Saputra explained that the students with the initials MAA (20), SRA (20) and HFF (22) carried out the act because they did not accept the current situation and were trying to provoke people in to fighting against capitalists who they believe have harmed many people. He did not however give any details on which party had been cited as the capitalists.
The perpetrators, he said, had different roles. HFF's role was to keep watch in the vicinity while the other suspects committed the act. MAA and SRA were assigned to draw the graffiti and collect the materials need such as Pilox spray paint.
"The material evidence secured by investigators included three mobile phones, two sketches of cartoons with the writing 'Tegalrejo Resists', then there was one can of black Pilox spray paint and four documents containing provocative material", continued Saputra.
The suspects have been charged under Articles 14 and 15 of Law Number 1/1946 on Criminal Regulations and Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on public provocation which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in jail.
Earlier, the arrest of the three student activists was criticised by Thursday action (Kamisan) activists. "Release our comrades, arrested and detained by the Malang city police", read an image posted on Instagram.
The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Surabaya Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) and the Malang LBH are asking the police to release the students and drop the charges against them.
According to the groups, in midst of the corona virus pandemic (Covid-19) the police ignored the arrest and detention procedures designed to minimise the number of people being taken into custody.
In addition to this, LBH Surabaya said that the arrest of one of the youths, Fitron, on the evening of Sunday April 19, was done without presenting an arrest warrant or giving the grounds for the arrest.
Based on testimonies from his family, three Malang police officers and two police officers from the Surabaya satellite city of Sidoarjo arrived at their home.
"When asked for an arrest warrant, the police showed us a document which did not include the name Fitron, so Fitron refused to follow the police request [to go with them]", said LBH Surabaya.
"These detentions do not reflect police professionalism as law enforcement officials who did not carry out the arrests and detentions in according with existing regulations", they explained in a written release.
Based on Article 18 of the Criminal Procedural Code (KUHAP), police are required to show an arrest warrant which contains the identity of the suspect, the grounds for the arrest, brief details of the crime committed and where they will be questioned.
In the end however, Fitron was forced to go with police and at around 10.45 pm was taken to the Malang regional police station. At 11 pm police searched the home of Fitron's grandmother in Tumpang, where Fitron has been living during his university studies in Malang.
"To search for things [belonging to] Fitron which are related to the anarchist movement", read the LBH release.
The two other students meanwhile were picked up by plain-clothed police officers but did not cite the lack of an arrest warrant.
The students that were detained are student press activists based in Malang city. They are also active on a committee and have taken part in Kamisan actions which are held every Thursday afternoon in front of the Malang City Hall.
"The three youths were processed super fast without concern over existing legal procedures", concluded LBH Surabaya. (mjo/arh)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Polisi Tangkap 3 Mahasiswa Penyeru 'Lawan Kapitalis'".]