The North Aceh regional police recently arrested 12 transgender women (waria) and forced them to become normal men again.
Although appreciated by the Acehnese, quite a few people have condemned the incident and believe that the actions by North Aceh regency police chief Assistant Superintendent Ahmad Untung Surianata or Untung Sangaji were a human rights violation.
The incident has also reached the ears of National Police (Polri) Chief General Tito Karnavian who has requested that the Aceh provincial police form an investigation team to look into the alleged human rights violations against the transgender women.
“There are indications that this incident is being politicised, as if Polri doesn’t support programs to curb social deceases, and actually this is wrong”, said Aceh police public relations chief Senior Commissioner Misbahul Munauwar at press conference on Thursday February 1.
The police fully support the government in curbing things that are categorised as a social decease. Munauwar explained that a narrative is being constructed to suggest that there is an imbalance between the police’s actions in assisting local governments in operations against waria.
“There are parties which are raising the issue as if the police’s actions were way out of proportion and as a result the Kapolri [national police chief] has ordered the Acehnese provincial police to follow it up by forming and investigation team to look into what happened”, he explained.
The operation, which resulted in the arrest of the 12 transgender women on Saturday January 27, was carried out by the North Aceh regency police together with the Islamic Religious Police (Polisi Syariah Islam Wilayatul Hisbah, WH) as part of a joint operation to combat social deceases in the North Aceh sub-districts of Lhoksukon and Tanah Jambo Aye.
The 12 transgender women, who were arrested at five beauty salons spread across the two sub-districts, were arrested because they allegedly created unease among residents.
“The operation had actually been completed and was over by the next day, but at around the same time there were photographs circulating [in the media] showing alleged physical abuse but were they actually photographs of what really happened that night and what the waria actually underwent, this is what we’re looking into”, said Munauwar.
In order to follow up on the matter, the Aceh provincial police has sent a team to investigate the truth about what was done by the North Aceh police during the operation against the transgender women.
“In accordance with the orders of the Kapolri who asked us to look into the North Aceh regency police, we have already sent an investigation team to look into the matter which allegedly involved violations”, said Munauwar.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Polda Aceh: Ada yang Coba Politisasi Kasus ‘Pembinaan’ 12 Waria.]