Jakarta – Three farmers were arrested by police after holding a protest action opposing an oil refinery which coincided with a visit by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to the construction site of the PT Trans Pacific Petrochemical Indotama (TPPI) refinery in Jenu, Tuban, East Java, on Saturday December 21.
Surabaya Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) land division head Mohammad Soleh said that the three farmers were named Wawan, Mashuri and Basori.
“It is suspected that the grounds for the arrests were related to a visit by Jokowi and senior state officials to the oil refinery site”, said Soleh on Sunday December 22.
Soleh said that the arrests occurred when the three were about to put up a banner rejecting the TPPI oil refinery which read, “Our Land is Not for Sale, Pak [Mr] Jokowi Don’t Force us to Sell our Land”.
The action did not proceed for long because police seized the banner, confiscated the protesters mobile phones and forced them to delete pictures and videos of the demonstration.
Soleh said that the police’s actions against the three farmers was a violation of human rights by the state.
East Timor Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) campaign manager Wahyu Eka Setyawan meanwhile said that the protests were against the construction of the Tuban Grass Root Refinery which will be operated by the state-owned oil company Pertamina and Russian investor Rousneft.
Setyawan said that protests by local residents against the refinery have been taking place over the last year. During this time they have reportedly experienced various kinds of threats and intimidation.
Setyawan now says that this has now broadened to become criminalisation. “However of late the level of pressure against local residents opposing the refinery has been quite high”, said Setyawan.
Setyawan said this is not the first case of criminalisation. In March three farmers were arrested by police for allegedly damaging land measurement stakes.
Setyawan said that the police’s actions clearly violate Law Number 11/2005 on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as Law Number 12/2005 on Civil and Political Rights.
“So the actions taken by the government and security forces such as the police have violated citizen’s basic rights, as mandated under the 1945 Constitution and various regulations related to human rights”, said Setyawan.
Setyawan is urging the police to immediate release the three and end the intimidation and arbitrary arrests which have terrorized local people protesting the construction of the refinery.
Tuban District Police Chief Senior Commissioner Nanang Haryono denied that police arrested the three farmers. He says that police simply brought them in for questioning.
“We didn’t detain or arrest [them], just secured them for questioning as was sufficient for our needs. When we’ve finished we’ll return them”, said Haryono when sought for confirmation by CNN Indonesia on Sunday.
“The TNI-Polri [Indonesian military and Indonesian police] of course had to be able to provide a sense of security and be able to create a favourable situation (during the president’s visit)”, he said. (frd/end)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Demo saat Kunjungan Jokowi, Tiga Petani Tuban Diamankan”.]