M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says it is disappointed that eight Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) activists in Banda Aceh have been named as suspects by the police saying that the police are protecting the interests of a company that appropriated land belonging to the people in 1990.
“We are warning the police not to side with the company. It would be ironic if it is precisely those fighting for the interests of the people that are charged with inciting hatred against a public company”, said YLBHI director for advocacy Taufik Basari during a press conference at the Kontras’ offices on Jl Borobudur in the Menteng area of Central Jakarta on Friday August 10.
Furthermore continued Basari, the charges against the eight LBH activists are based on the ambiguous hate-sowing articles, which are no longer in use. “We are disappointed over the arrests of the eight LBH Banda Aceh activists at the Langsa Post by the East Aceh district police”, he repeated.
The federal secretary of Kontras, Oslan Purba meanwhile said that he is concerned that the police’s actions will serve to obscure a problem that is actually of concern to LBH, that is the actions of PT Bumi Flora in forcibly taking over land owned by the people in 1990.
The eight activists who were arrested on July 2 are Muksalmina, Yulisa Fitri, Sugiono, Muhammad Jully Fuadi, Mardiati, Mustiqal Syahputra and Juanda. They were named suspects on August 8 and are being charged under articles 160 and 161 of the Criminal Code1.
Purba added that the two articles being used by police to indict the activists have actually been revoked by the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court recently decided that the two articles are no longer relevant in the development of a democratic environment.
“The police’s actions have in fact done irreparable damage to a state constitutional verdict in using articles that threaten democratisation and human rights”, asserted Purba.
YLBHI and Kontras will therefore asking the police to act professionally by respecting the rights of the people and the activists assisting them. They also asking that the police investigate suspicions that the land at Bumi Flora2 was forcibly seized and investigate the death of three local residents in 1999 who were defending their land. (zal/nvt)
1. On July 17 the Indonesia’s Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional articles 154 and 155 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code, commonly known as the “hate sowing” (Haatzai Artikelen) articles. It did not however revoke articles 160 or 161 on incitement which carry a maximum sentence of six and four years jail respectively.
2. On August 9, 2001, 31 people were massacred by the Indonesian Military at a plantation, Bumi Flora in East Aceh. The military later claimed that the Free Aceh Movement carried out the killings.
[Translated by James Balowski.]