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Indonesia: Police raided offices of two legal aid organisations and used excessive force towards protesters in Jakarta

Asian Human Rights Commission Urgent Appeal - May 3, 2012

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-067-2012

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding a police raid on the office of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) in Diponegoro Street, Jakarta, following a student protest against the government's plan to raise the price of fuel. Fifty four people were arrested by the police and several damages were reported.

Case narrative:

Responding to the Indonesian government's plan to raise the fuel price, university students from various parts of Indonesia held a big demonstration in Jakarta expressing their rejection. One of the protests was held on Thursday, 29 March 2012, in front of the campus of the Indonesian Christian University (UKI) and Indonesian Administration Foundation (YAI). At the same time, whilst the protest was ongoing, some students stayed at the office of YLBHI and LBH Jakarta to rest. These included female students as well as those who were ill.

According to KontraS, at around 8:30-9:30pm, a group of unidentified people stopped a Mobile Brigadier's (Brimob) car and hit it with bamboo sticks. Some individuals were also throwing stones at the car. An unidentified man attempted to set the car on fire but was not successful. Another unidentified man provoked the group to pour fuel on the car, which was done by some students. These unidentified men later escaped and attempted to get in to the YLBHI and LBH Jakarta's office, but were refused entry by staff. However, amidst the uncontrolled situation, several students managed to get into the building and hide. Neither YLBHI nor LBH Jakarta knew about this until the police found these students on the fourth floor of the building.

Around 20 members of the intelligence unit came to the office along with the riot police. There were approximately 60 police officers in total (four were in uniform and armed, four others were just wearing uniform and the rest were in civilian clothes). The Directors of YLBHI and LBH Jakarta along with a staff of KontraS were negotiating with Daniel Tafiona (Head of the Violence Crime Unit of the Metropolitan Police). The Head of Central Jakarta Sub-District Police was also at the site.

Whilst negotiations between the police and the directors was ongoing, six people in the building were interrogated by the police. They were later handcuffed and arrested by the police. It was reported that one of them was kicked by the police.

The police started searching the office and the bags of the students sheltering at the office despite the fact that the negotiation between the police and the legal aid organisations was ongoing. According to the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP), a search can be conducted by the police with the consent of the hosts of the building or, if the hosts of the building do not give their consent, the search should be witnessed by the head of the local community along with two other witnesses.

The police managed to find several students who were hiding on the fourth floor of the building and reported this to the legal aid organisations' staffs. The staffs went to the fourth floor and found 47 students there, half naked and wounded. Along with YLBHI's staff named Agung, all of them were arrested by the police.

After the raid, the staffs found several damages to their office, including to the doors on the fourth floor. A press release issued by LBH Jakarta reported that there were blood marks on the floor and the doors. The police seized four bags and one plastic bag, but no explosive materials were found.

It was reported that several individuals, allegedly members of the Indonesian National Military (TNI), were deployed around UKI and YAI's campus as well as the street where the YLBHI and LBH Jakarta offices are located.

Additional information:

After being kept in police custody for about two days, 50 arrested students were released on bail. They remain suspects, and are obliged to report to the police twice a week. Two students remain in custody as the police believe they played a significant role in setting the Brimob car on fire.

It is also alleged that the police used excessive force on the next day. Students organised by the Indonesian Christian Students' Movement (GMKI) blocked Diponegoro Street for a few hours on 30 March 2012 to express their rejection to the government's plan to raise the fuel price. Although the students burnt tires and wood on the street, there was no violence or destruction reported. At around 10pm, after the students ended their protest, 150 police officers were deployed to raid GMKI's office. The police searched the building and documents belong to GMKI without providing any search warrant. Nineteen people were arrested, 17 of whom were members of GMKI, a student, and one other was a street child. Out of the 19 arrested, 17 were later released as there was no proof that they were involved in storing Molotov bombs as previously alleged by the police.

Suggested action:

Please write to the listed authorities, urging them to ensure that those who were unlawfully arrested be given adequate compensation. It is also essential to remind those authorities that the rights of the suspects and the detained should be respected at all times and that any allegation on the performance of excessive use of force as well as violence by the police is properly investigated. Please also urge them to ensure that, in the future, the police are obliged to act in accordance with human rights principles when responding to any demonstrations against the government.

The AHRC is also writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

To support this appeal, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-067-2012

Sample letter:

Dear ___________,

Indonesia: Police raided offices of two legal aid organisations and used excessive force towards protesters in Jakarta

  • Name of legal aid office subjected to illegal search: LBH Jakarta (Jakarta Legal Aid Institute), YLBHI (Indonesian Legal Aid Institute), GMKI (Indonesian Christian Students' Movement)
  • Number of people affected: 72 arrested people
  • Name of people arrested (only those who signed power of attorney): Agung Wijaya, Jaka Braksen Waruw, Yulia Zuadirman, M Rizky Ramadhan, M Fachruzi, Afmalludin, A Fadillah, M Yasir, Abdul Rahman, Sukrin, Muh Fhery NI, Munawir, Benazir Mahalaum, Dyaifudin Bahri, Syaiful Bahri, Yoyok Prasetyo, Eko Syahputra Purba, Saur Nadapdap, Risal Sugiarto, Nukramin, Peter Hasudungan, Rizky Saputra, Aminullah Humaini, Joni Iskandar, Zulkarnain, Sugiarto, Irfan Hakim, Carlos Silalahi, Norman Yapono, Toni Syahputra, Destrian Rahmat N, Iswono Dwi Panji, Sulistiyono, Afgan Eka Bahtiar, Ridwan, Ahmad Suryana, Rizky Omtavian, Hanafi, M Nur Kholis, Jafar Sodik, Kuswara, Benson Andrian, Khairudin Mulhlis, Abdul Kadir Mulao, Sahri, M Lutfi, Rendi, Ari Anggara
  • Names of alleged perpetrators: The Metropolitan Police, Central Jakarta Sub-District Police
  • Date of incident: 29 and 30 March 2012
  • Place of incident: LBH Jakarta and YLBHI's office, GMKI's secretariat, Jakarta

I am writing to express my concern regarding the unlawful raid on the office of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and Jakarta Legal Aid Institute. The raid was conducted by officers of the Jakarta Metropolitan Police and the Central Jakarta Sub-District Police on 29 March 2012. The raid was conducted due to the allegation that students who committed violence during the demonstration against the government's plan on increasing the fuel price were hiding in the legal aid institutes' building. I was informed that after the raid, 54 people were arrested. Fifty two of them are confirmed students; one person was a staff at the YLBHI, whereas the other was a street youth.

I am aware that a Mobile Brigadier's car was burnt by a group of unidentified men who were present at the demonstration held by the students by the campuses of Indonesian Christian University (UKI) and the Indonesian Administration Foundation (YAI) and that it might be possible that these people escaped to YLBHI and LBH Jakarta's offices. However, whilst I condemn violence in any form, I regret that the raid on the legal aid organisations' offices was conducted not in accordance with the procedures established by the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP). Neither LBH Jakarta nor YLBHI knew that there were students hiding in their four-floor premises until the police found them. Both YLBHI and LBH Jakarta provided shelter for female students and those who were sick and could not participate in the protests.

I was told that the offices were forcibly searched while there was a negotiation ongoing between the police and the staffs of the legal aid organisations. I was also informed that several damages and blood marks were found in various parts of the offices and 47 students who managed to get inside the building and hide were naked and wounded. I am concerned that the police forcibly searched the building without any consent of YLBHI or LBH Jakarta, whereas as legal professional institutions, they enjoy the privilege to protect the confidentiality of their documents and their office subject to any search.

In addition to the raid and arrest in YLBHI and LBH Jakarta's offices, I learnt that on the next day, 30 March 2012, 150 police officers were deployed to raid the secretariat of the Indonesian Christian Students' Movement (GMKI) in Jakarta. The raid was conducted after the students ended their protests in Diponegoro Street, which was fairly peaceful. I am not aware of any violence taking place during the demonstration. As far as I am concerned, the 'most dangerous things' the students did was burning tires and wood in the street, with absolutely no threat to public security caused by the protest whatsoever.

Additionally, I was informed that there is an allegation that several members of the Indonesian National Military (TNI) were also deployed around the YLBHI, LBH Jakarta and GMKI offices on that day. Although they did not take any law-enforcement measures at that time, I would like to question the necessity of deploying them during the protests.

I have been informed that most of the arrested have been released on bail and that there were individuals who were released unconditionally since there was no proof that they were involved in any illegal or unlawful activities. I am writing to urge you to ensure that those who were falsely arrested be given adequate compensation, and those who remain suspects be treated in accordance with human rights standards, and their cases be investigated impartially and effectively. I would also like to request you to ensure that any allegation on violence and excessive use of force by the police is properly investigated. For the future, I am urging any law-enforcement officials to respect human rights at all times in performing their duties, in accordance with Indonesia's international obligations on human rights.

I look forward to seeing your swift and effective response to my requests.

Yours sincerely,

Please send your letters to:

1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat
Tel: +62 21 386 3777, 350 3088
Fax: +62 21 344 2223

2. Mr. Djoko Suyanto
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affair Minister
Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat No. 15
Jakarta Pusat 10110
Tel: +62 21 3521 121, 350 0876
E-mail: polkam@polkam.go.id

3. Gen. Timur Pradopo
Chief of the Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Jakarta Selatan
Tel: +62 21 721 8012
Fax: +62 21 720 7277
E-mail: polri@polri.go.id, info@polri.go.id

4. Mr. Budi Gunawan
Head of the Profession and Security, Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Jakarta Selatan
Tel: +62 21 739 3350, 721 8016
Fax: +62 21 7280 0947
E-mail: info@propam.polri.go.id

5. Prof. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
Human Rights General Director
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. C-1 Kuningan
Jakarta Selatan 12920
Tel: +62 21 252 1344
Fax: +62 21 45555 5676
E-mail: info@ham.go.id

6. Mr. Ifdhal Kasim
KOMNAS HAM (National Human Rights Commission)
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng
Jakarta Pusat 10310
Tel:+62 21 3925 230
Fax: +62 21 3151042/3925227
E-mail: info@komnasham.or.id

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)