Jakarta – The Agrarian Reform National Committee (KNPA) says that at least 49 protesters were arrested and are still being held by police around the country following peaceful commemorations of National Farmers Day (HTN) by an alliance of farmers and other social organisations on Thursday September 24.
In a press release the KNPA said that the 49 were students and activists spread across several parts of the country including Makassar in South Sulawesi, Bengkulu province, Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara and Manado in North Sulawesi.
"The momentum of the HTN commemorations was marked by repression by police against protesters. There were even arrests of students and activists. As of this statement being released there are at least 49 people who are still being held by local police", said the KNPA in a press release on Friday September 25.
The KNPA says that the arrests are an attempt to curb the ordinary people's democratic rights, freedom of expression and the right to protest which is guaranteed under law.
Based on this, they are calling on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the Indonesian police chief to free the protesters immediately and unconditionally.
"We urge the Propam Polri [Indonesian police professionalism and security affairs] to immediately conduct an investigation and take firm action against the repression and the violations of police protap [standard operating procedures} against peaceful demonstrators on HTN", said the KNPA.
The KNPA also called on the government to focus attention on handling the corona virus pandemic and the impact of economic crisis and to halt deliberations on the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation which the group said would endanger all layers of society.
In addition to this, they also called for an end to the theft of ordinary people's land and the brutal actions by police and companies in agrarian conflicts and for the government to implement genuine agrarian reform for the people.
"Instruct the national police, the military, related ministries and local government to put a stop to this counterproductive situation in the field, so that farmers and the ordinary people can focus on helping the country overcome the social, economic and food crisis", said the KNPA.
National Farmers Day, which falls on September 24, was commemorated with protest actions in various parts of the country yesterday with social organisations and farmers taking to the streets to voice their demands.
The actions however ended in arrests in several areas including Solo in Central Java, where at least 19 protesters were arrested by local police.
An action in Makassar meanwhile ended in a clash with police arresting at least 20 people. Local police said that the protesters did not give them prior notification of the action so they forcibly broke up the rally.
"We secured 20 people because they injured three of our officers", said Makassar municipal police chief Senior Commissioner Yudhiawan Wibisono when sought for confirmation on Thursday. (yoa/bmw)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Demo Hari Tani, KNPA Sebut 49 Orang Masih Ditahan".]