Luqman Rimadi, Jakarta – Police have broken up a rally by the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) who were protesting at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on December 1. As a result, a clash broke out between the protesters and police.
Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Padjaitan has expressed his appreciation over the police’s actions, saying the protesters did not have a permit so it was illegal and was appropriate that it was broken up.
“There were several issues with the Papuan demo earlier, first they did not apply for a permit. We’re a democratic country right and must obey the [requirement to have a] permit. [Demonstrators] must also be disciplined. Second it wasn’t at a place [allowed for] demos. Third [they were] warned three times [to disburse] but refused. Fourth they assaulted the police. Five, of course they were arrested and questioned”, said Luhut at his office on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta on Tuesday December 1.
In relation to reports that rogue police officers committed violence against journalists covering the action, Luhut believes that the police did not do so intentionally.
“It was not violence against journalists. Someone or other (a protester) hit [a police officer], so the police broke it up see. So, perhaps a journalist was pushed around or something. Yeah (if they were hit), then we apologise”, he said.
Despite this, Luhut said that he would check if it was true that journalists were assaulted and their cameras seized by police during the chaotic protest action. “I’ll check it out later”, said Luhut briefly.
The riot broke out when police forcibly disbursed demonstrators commemorating the December 1 anniversary of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).
Central Jakarta district police chief Senior Commissioner Hendro Pandowo said that police were forced to take firm action and break up the demonstration after protesters insisted on marching to the State Palace where they planned to hold a demonstration.
“They did not have a permit to demonstrate, so [we were] forced to disburse them”, said Pandowo at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Tuesday December 1.
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was Menko Luhut: Demo Pemuda Papua di Bundaran HI Salahi Aturan.]