Medan – A Kamisan (Thursday) action held by a civil society group in the North Sumatra provincial capital of Medan was forcibly broken up by plan clothed police officers on Thursday July 7.
The action was being held in front of the Sumatra London Plantation Company offices in Jalan Balai Kota in the vicinity of the Medan Freedom Square. The protesters were demonstrating against the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP) with the demand, "Remove the Anti-Democratic Articles in the RKUHP".
"At 10.15 am we held a Kamisan action which is a routine agenda with the demand rejecting the anti-democratic articles in the RKUHP. At the time we put up a banner of demands in front of the London Sumatra office", said Dinda, one of the protesters in a press release revived by JPPN.
Dinda, who is also a Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) staff member, said that the action opposing the RKUHP was held to coincide with a visit by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo who was to take part in the 20th National Family Day commemoration at the Medan Independence Square.
However, she continued, it was not long before the demonstrators were blocked and forcibly disbursed by plain clothed police.
"We were forced to disband, the rogue police officers seized the banners and posters, forced my colleagues back. The demonstrators were herded to the side of Jalan Kesawan. We were asked to disband voluntarily", she said.
Dinda explained that although they were asked to disband the demonstrators stood their ground waiting for Widodo to arrive. The plain clothed officers continuously intimidated the seven demonstrators.
Not only did they try to intimidate them, said Dinda, hundreds of police officers in full uniform were lined up to block the demonstrators just before Widodo went past.
"When President Jokowi was about to pass by, the police surrounded those of us who wanted to convey our demands related to the problematic articles in the RKUHP to the president", she said.
Dinda explained that the Kamisan action was a routine agenda which is held every Thursday to highlight articles that are problematic in the RKUHP.
Opposition to the anti-democratic articles emerged after the government and the House of Representatives (DPR) again began discussing 14 crucial articles in the bill. The articles being discussed however have not undergo any meaningful changes.
"We believe that there are still articles [in the law] which conflict with the values of democracy, such as the articles on insulting the president and the vice president, the living law, cohabitation, and contempt of court, which will prevent journalists from publishing court proceedings, they're still in the law", she explained.
Based on the website reformasikuhp.org as of July 6, which published the latest draft of the RKUHP dated July 4, the law still contains the anti-democratic articles which have attracted opposition from the public.
There are 24 articles which are considered problematic and are rejected by civil society, including the articles on insulting the president and vice president, the criminalisation of protest actions, and the articles on insulting the legitimate government, public authorities or state institutions. (mar8/jpnn)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi Tolak RKUHP di Medan Warnai Kunjungan Kerja Presiden Jokowi, Massa Dibubarkan Paksa".]