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Rights commission finds police used violence, excessive force in Wadas

Kompas.com - February 25, 2022

Tatang Guritno, Jakarta – Scores of Wadas Village residents in the Bener sub-district of Purworejo regency, Central Java, were arrested and detained by police.

The incident occurred on February 8 when hundreds of Central Java regional police officers were escorting officials from the National Land Agency (BPN) to measure land for an andesite rock quarry to supply materials for the Bener Dam project.

Videos and photographs of the arrests went viral on social media and become a focus of public concern.

The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has since conducted an investigation into the incident.

The Komnas HAM explained a number of findings and conclusions on the incident and has drafted some recommendations on dealing with the case.

This was conveyed by Komnas HAM Commissioners Beka Ulung Hapsara and Choirul Anam during a press conference in Thursday February 24.

1. Police violence

The Komnas HAM said that violence was committed during the arrest of 67 Wadas villagers. Anam said that the violence was largely committed by police officers wearing civilian clothing or preman.

"From the identification of the perpetrators of this violence most of it was committed by officers wearing civilian clotting or preman during the arrests", he said.

He also revealed that at the time, the Central Java regional police had deployed 250 personnel to Wadas Village. "Comprising 200 personnel in uniform and 50 personnel wearing civilian clothing or preman", he said.

2. Use of excessive force

The Komnas HAM said that the Central Java regional police used excessive force against the people of Wadas Village. In Hapsara's view, this was apparent from the number of personnel that were deployed.

"Which was based on the deployment of personnel in huge numbers and the acts of violence during the arrest process", he said.

Hapsara then explained several other conclusions, particularly on the issue of actions which ignored the human rights of Wadas villagers.

The rights which were violated or ignored were the right to give agreement, the right to protection and the personal integrity of citizens defending their environment and livelihood.

Then the right to obtain justice and a sense of security, the rights of children to be treated differently under the law and the right of arrested citizens to access information and meet with their lawyers.

3. Injured and traumatised

The results of the Komnas HAM investigation found that there were impacts arising from the arrests and violence by police.

A number of Wadas Village residents who were arrested suffered injuries to their foreheads, knees and other parts of their bodies.

Not only that, the incident has created trauma among residents. Anam related how a number of residents only had the courage to return to their homes four to five days after the incident.

"Aside from this, the potential for trauma was found especially for women and children", he explained.

4. Recommendations

The Komnas HAM made a number of recommendations to Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and Central Java police chief Inspector General Ahmad Luthfi.

Pranowo was asked to conducted a serious evaluation of the approach taken in resolving the problems at Wadas village and asked that he stop using forced evictions and a security approach.

The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician was also urged to openly reveal the environmental and social impacts of the planned mining activities at Wadas Village.

Finally, continued Hapsara, they demanded that Pranowo make efforts to assist in the recovery of residents suffering trauma.

Meanwhile the Komnas HAM urged Luthfi to conduct an immediate evaluation and firmly punish police officers who committed violence and violated standard operating procedures (SOP).

Hapsara explained that the Komnas HAM hoped that the Central Java police would avoid the use of excessive force in dealing with future conflicts at Wadas Village.

In addition to this, Komnas HAM is urging the police to also take part in assisting residents recover from trauma.

"By prioritising Bhabinkamtibmas [police security and public order supervisory officers] and local police social guidance through programs and activities which are beneficial to the community", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kesimpulan Komnas HAM soal Wadas: Terjadi Kekerasan dan Penggunaan Kekuatan Berlebihan Aparat Kepolisian".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/02/25/06242221/kesimpulan-komnas-ham-soal-wadas-terjadi-kekerasan-dan-penggunaan-kekuata