Jakarta – A number of professional organisations have slammed the alleged throttling of the internet at Wadas Village in Bener sub-district, Purworejo regency, Central Java, which has made it difficult to access information on the situation in the area.
The Yogyakarta, Semarang and Purwokerto Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) offices and the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) believe that the throttling of the internet, which occurred between Tuesday February 8 and the afternoon of Wednesday February 9, was an attempt by the government to cover up police violence at Wadas.
"Through this alleged throttling of internet access, there was an effort so that the publication of information on the violent actions of police against [Wadas Village] residents opposing the measurement of their land could be blocked, so that it would not be known by the public", read a joint statement by the organisations.
The groups said that the internet throttling was also done to smooth the way for the land measurement activities for the construction of an andesite mine in the vicinity of the Wadas Village.
In addition to this, the groups also condemned the hacking of the LBH Yogyakarta Instagram account on Tuesday. The account disappeared after they uploading a video showing the repressive actions of police and this shows that that there was an attempt to cut information access.
"We believe that the hacking of the LBH Yogyakarta social media account was to cut off access to information transparency for the public related to the latest development on the situation at Wadas Village which is protected by law", they said.
Furthermore, the alliance also spoke about police sweeps of Wadas Village residents' mobile phones. According to the groups, this is against the law and violates citizens' freedom of expression.
"This of course cannot be justified because there are no legal grounds. Moreover the police's actions allegedly violated the right to freedom of expression and opinion which is regulated under Article 28F of the 1945 Constitution", they explained.
Earlier on the morning of Tuesday February 8, police units surrounded and entered the Wadas Village. They swept through the village removing banners with messages opposing andesite rock mining for the Bener Dam.
The police also arrested scores of residents who allegedly resisted police. At least 64 people were arrested ranging from the elderly to underage children. The police claimed they had come to the village to assist a team from the National Land Agency (BPN) to measure the land for the Bener Dam project.
The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) revealed thee the internet went down when the police arrived at Wadas Village on Tuesday morning.
"The current situation, is that the internet in Wadas is also down, so it makes it difficult to spread news through social media. In addition to this, thousands of police have gathered in the field behind the Bener sectoral police station, fully armed with shields and dogs", said the YLBHI in a tweet on Tuesday. (blq/kid)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "AJI-LBH Pers Duga Pelambatan Internet Wadas demi Tutupi Kekerasan".]