Jakarta – Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) Director Emanuel Gobay says that demonstrations or protest actions are regulated under Law Number 9/1998 on the Freedom to Convey an Opinion. This includes also, he added, the recent demonstrations criticising plans to create new autonomous regions (DOB) in Papua.
Gobay made the statement in response to Papua regional police chief (Kapolda) Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri who called on the public to stop holding demonstrations against DOBs.
"So if we restrict it, yes, of course, that fact will clearly show who is committing a violation of Law Number 9/1998", Gobay told CNN Indonesia on Friday May 20.
Aside from violating the right to convey and opinion, Gobay also believes that Fakhiri is not acting in a neutral manner because he has explicitly expressed his support for the creation of new regions.
He also warned that under Government Regulation (PP) Number 2/2003 on Indonesian Police Discipline, police officers must remain neutral. "I'm just concerned lest the Kapolda's statement explicitly violates PP Number 2/2003", he said.
Instead of prohibiting the public from demonstrating, Gobay suggests that Fakhiri propose to the House of Representatives (DPR) that they conduct a survey at the village level on the issue.
In that way, Fakhiri will hopefully be able to understand the views on DOBs from the grassroots.
"By forming a separate body to get the public's view. So as not to come to a conclusion which is not genuinely from the grass roots", he said.
Earlier, Fakhiri appealed to groups who support young people holding demonstrations against DOBs to stop providing support.
"Don't push them any more to hold demos rejecting it because there are many also who support it. Let's stop pushing young people to oppose DOBs", said Fakhiri in Jayapura on Thursday May 19.
He also asserted that the Papua regional police support the central government's policy of creating new regions in several parts of Papua and that they will defend these policies. (yla/DAL)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "LBH Sentil Kapolda Papua: Demonstrasi Tolak DOB Dijamin Undang-undang".]