Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia is calling on Indonesian police chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo to broaden police regulations related to the respect for human rights for refugees or immigrants transiting Indonesia.
The call was made by Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Humid in response to the police's handling of a protest action by Afghanistan refugees on Wednesday January 19. Hamid believes that the police acted inappropriately in handling the demonstration.
"I think that this needs special attention from the Kapolri [Indonesian police chief]", Hamid told journalists at Amnesty's office in Central Jakarta on Wednesday.
"I myself witnessed and saw, how, I think the behaviour of the police was, it didn't seem appropriate for law enforcement officials to do this", he said.
Hamid asserted that the police should prioritise a human rights perspective when operating in the field, regardless of people's citizenship, ethnicity or religion.
It is because of this that he believes that it is import for Indonesian police chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo to broaden police regulations on dealing with immigrants or refugees from overseas.
"So that police officers in the field can also receive guidelines, instructions and directives which are more in accordance with human rights", explained Hamid.
On the other hand, Hamid also highlighted remarks by police directed at the refuges such as statements prohibiting refugees from demonstrating on the grounds that "this is not your country".
"This is actually inappropriate and can be seen as racist or nationalist behaviour which is excessive and even anti-foreigner", he said.
Hamid explained that that although they do not have a clear citizenship status, it does not mean that they can be treated arbitrarily. Refugees, he said, are still human beings who must be respected.
It is because of this that he strongly condemns the acts of violence by police against the Afghanistan refugees and says that this cannot be justified.
"For example, pushing and shoving them by force, or even assaulting them or committing violence which is not actually necessary", he asserted.
The alleged assault by police officers was confirmed by one of the action coordinators, Mohammad Ali. Ali claims to have been hit by a policy office when he was holding a meeting with Amnesty International.
"It was very rough and not like [you treat] human beings, I was hit and pushed yet I only wanted to enter, right, but I was pushed and shoved", Ali told journalists.
According to CNN Indonesia's observations at the rally, several representatives of the refugees did indeed try to exit a bus but were blocked at the bus' doors by police. A tense argument broke out between them.
Speaking separately, Central Jakarta Metro police operational division chief Assistant Superintendent Saufi Salamun denied that police had assaulted the protesters. He equivocated that all of the police's actions were measured and done to maintaining security.
"There wasn't any violence, all [the officers acted] professionally, our members are clear about their actions, there wasn't any violence", said Salamun.
"But there was indeed some tension, if it can't be controlled we have to do something, right, all of our members in Central Jakarta know [how to behave] humanly and with a soft approach", he said. (tfq/DAL)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Usman Hamid Sentil Kapolri soal Aparat Rasis ke Pengungsi Afghanistan".]