Jakarta – The Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) says that 11 people were arrested by the South Sulawesi regional water police (Polair) during an action against the ship Boskalis which was mining sand at a local fishing area on Kodingareng Island on Saturday morning, September 12.
The residents, who felt anxious about the mining, organised a protest and set out for the location using 45 small sailboats and traditional fishing boats (kapal jolloro).
The action continued until 8.50 am when the Boskalis left the location, although the local people continued to follow the ship.
At 9.53 am when the protesters had gathered near the beach, the water police suddenly arrived in a shuttle boat. They then blocked the protesters, vandalised a jolloro boat belonging to one of the fisherpeople and arrested 11 of them for no clear reason.
"One fisherperson named Daen Pasang was assaulted by the officers", JATAM campaign leader Melky Nahar told CNN Indonesia in an SMS message on Saturday.
Nahar explained that the 11 people arrested comprised eight fisherpeople and three student reporters from the Hasanuddin University Student Press Activities Unit (UKPM Unhas) and the Indonesia Muslim University Student Writing and Publishing Unit (UPPM UMI).
Nahar said that he has still not been able to get any news from the police about the condition of the 11.
"We're continuing to check with Polair about our friends in the field. Friends from local networks, such as the Makassar LBH [Legal Aid Foundation] and Walhi Sulsel [South Sulawesi Indonesian Forum for the Environment] will watch over them in the field", said Nahar.
South Sulawesi regional police (Polda Sulsel) public relations division head Senior Commissioner Ibrahim Tompo meanwhile said that 12 people were detained during the protest.
They were taken in for questioning about the action during which the Boskalis was damaged. According to Tompo, several of the fisherpeople threw Molotov Cocktails in the direction of the ship.
"Several fisherpeople from Walhi asked [the ship] to stop the activities by throwing rocks and Molotov bombs onto the ship's deck causing fires at several points and severing a pneumatic electricity cable so the ship could not continue dredging on one side", said Tompo.
Tompo added that an intelligence team has secured several of the people who are alleged to be the provocateurs of the anarchic protest.
"The intel team and the tactical shipping [unit] took these students and fishing community [members] to the Polda Sulsel Mako Ditpolairud [Air and Water Police Directorate command headquarters] for questioning. With regard to those 12 people we are currently still questioning them".
Nahar suspects that the police are colluding with company PT Boskalis, the owners of the ship, and South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah. This is because local people had already rejected the sand mining and complained about it with the South Sulawesi provincial government, although they failed to get a reasonable response.
"The indications of this can be seen in the arrest of fisherpeople which continues to happen, without any clear grounds, arbitrarily. Then, boats from the water police headquarters and the South Sulawesi regional water police also provided an escort for the Boskalis ship while it was doing the sand mining", said Nahar.
Nahar also explained that the sand mining is being done for the Makassar New Port reclamation project. Since February 13 the Boskalis has been mining sand at several coastal areas. (adp/dea)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Mahasiswa dan Nelayan Ditangkap Saat Aksi Tolak Tambang Pasir".]