Workers demand action after peaceful protest attacked by paid thugs

Viva News – October 31, 2013
Pancasila Youth 2013 (Merdeka)
Pancasila Youth 2013 (Merdeka)

Sandy Adam Mahaputra, Syahrul Ansyari – The president of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI), Said Iqbal, is demanding that three social organisations in Bekasi, West Java, be held accountable for an attack on workers who were holding a peaceful demonstration.

Iqbal said that the three organisations had carried out an act of terror. “The Pancasila Youth (PP), the Son’s of Bekasi Association (Ikaput) and the Bekasi Association of Waste Companies (Asperindo). The police must question their chairperson, Hartono, and secretary Budianto”, said Iqbal at a press conference at the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) in Jakarta on Thursday October 31.

Iqbal alleged that there was a meeting between Hartono and Budianto to plan the attack and if the police fail to act, then the workers would take up the fight. “We will go up against them in the context of defending [ourselves] not attack. What kind of country is this where black employers work with criminals”, he said.

Iqbal is convinced that the attackers were not local residents but a group of thugs and called on the media not to write stories painting their actions or their movement in a negative light. “Thugs who were paid, slashing and stabbing with machetes, samurai. This is clearly what was caught on television news”, he said.

They are also calling for the removal of Bekasi district police chief Senior Commissioner Isnaini. “We are asking for Senior Commissioner Isnaini to be removed who it is reasonable to suspect allowed people to carry sharp weapons. We will give them 3 x 24 hours to sack Isnaini”, said Iqbal.

If this demand is not met, Iqbal threatened that they would fight to the bitter end insisting that they already had a permit from the national police for the strike action that was attacked.

“As a consequence 28 people were injured, seventeen with serious injuries, eleven were able to return home, two were stabbed, five suffered broken bones after being struck by blunt instruments, the others were injured as a result of the clash and so forth”, added Iqbal.

Earlier, a clash broke out between workers from the companies PT Schneider Indonesia and PT Abacus Kencana with a group of people from the PP at the EJIP industrial estate in Cikarang, Bekasi. As a result eight people were injured after being hit by stones and two people had to be rushed to hospital after suffering stab wounds.

According to the head of the public relations division, Police Senior Commissioner Rikwanto, the clash occurred because local residents opposed the workers’ protests over the last few days. They believed the action had impacted upon local economic activities such as motorcycle taxi drivers, waste management and boarding houses. (eh)

[Bentrok di Bekasi, Buruh Tuntut Tiga Ormas Bertanggung Jawab – VIVAnews. Kamis, 31 Oktober 2013. Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]