Scores of workers beaten and arrested after police attack rally in Bekasi

Solidarity Net – November 22, 2014
KASBI workers rally at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta - September 9, 2014 (Solo Post)
KASBI workers rally at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta - September 9, 2014 (Solo Post)

Bekasi – Once again victims have fallen at a protest action by thousands of workers in Bekasi regency because of repressive actions by police. At least 15 workers were injured and their motorcycles damaged by police on November 21.

The workers who were involved in the action came from several different industrial zones in Bekasi including the East Jakarta Industrial Park (EJIP), Hyundai, Delta, Jababeka, MM2100 and from industrial zones outside of Warung Bongkok Cibitung.

The workers were protesting to demand wage increases. That morning, workers managed to close access to the West Cikarang toll road but only for one hour. The tactical police unit (Sabhara) was able to force workers away from the toll road. It was after this that police took repressive actions against workers at several different protest sites.

One of the injured workers was Ade, an employee of PT Indofood, who was part of a group of workers intending to return home. Officers from the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) however waylaid them not far from PT Tokai in Jababeka and then forced the group to disperse. They were kicked, beaten and their motorcycles damaged.

Another worker, Abdul, was kicked by a police officer until he fell sprawled on the ground, hitting his head on the pavement. Currently he is in a critical condition suffering a fractured skull and serious hemorrhaging.

Police also forcibly disbursed demonstrating workers who had gathered at the intersection in front of PT Daido Metal in the MM2100 industrial zone. The workers were driven back into the factory and forced to return to work. Scores of motorcycles belong to the workers were scattered on the road and became targets for the police’s rage. “The police trampled on our motorcycles”, said one worker named Malik.

A Blackberry Messenger message also circulated saying that seven workers had been arrested and taken to the Metro Jaya regional police headquarters. They were A Mattalunru Marala, Nugraha Ramdan, Nono Kartono, Didit Purwanto, Yodi Hastanto, Taufik Susanto and Susilo Eko Purwanto. In fact many more were arrested than that.

One of the workers who was arrested was Amin, who is employed at a factory in the Jababeka industrial zone. Although he has now been released, he related how he was kicked and trampled on by police. “We must not let our spirits be broken in demanding our rights, despite suffering such things”, he said when visited at this house by comrades.

Demonstrators from the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI) were able to hold their ground and held a theatrical action at the EJIP intersection. At 6pm however, all of the protesting workers were forced to retreat by police.

Police riding motorcycles drove around the area and any groups of protesting workers that they encountered were forcibly disbursed. This method succeeded in causing protesters to scatter in disarray and confusion and weakening the workers’ forces.

Workers were also unsuccessful in halting production in any significant way although many factory workers called for ‘sweeps’ to allow them to joint the protests.

[Translated by James Balowski. Photographs of gathered by of the protest, injured workers and damaged motorcycles can be viewed at the link below.]