Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The House of Representatives Commission III, the body that oversees legal affairs, is planning to summon the National Police and the National Commission on Human Rights over recent violence and conflicts involving police, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.
“In connection to the cases in Ogan Ilir, Mesuji, Pasaman, Maligi, Bima and others, it is an important moment for us, to once again remind the National Police to reform itself,” said Nudirman Munir, a member of House Commission III.
Nudirman was referring to several cases involving locals protesting against companies in their areas, mostly over land disputes, where police intervention resulted in injuries and sometimes death. Nudirman said there were indications of human rights violations by the police in these cases.
Police have been accused of serious human rights violations in a series of recent fatal incidents during land dispute protests across the country.
A child was shot by police during a protest over a land dispute in South Sumatra’s Ogan Ilir district last month.
Police reportedly fired live ammunition into a crowd of villagers protesting the presence of a sugar cane plantation and sugar factory in their area.
In late December, three civilians were killed in a clash with security forces during a protest over gold prospecting in West Nusa Tenggara’s Bima district.
Earlier that month, farmers from Mesuji district in Lampung presented a video to legislators in Jakarta that they claimed showed security forces murdering residents in order to evict them.
Observers, activists and lawmakers have said the shooting should be used as a wake up call for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Hendarman Supandji, the new land agency chief, to immediately review all cases that have the potential to turn into deadly violence.
Ifdal Kasim, chairman of the rights agency known as Komnas HAM, has demanded that Yudhoyono form a special team to handle each land dispute across the country.
“The team should comprise representatives of all the relevant offices and have the authority to directly deal with the problems and overcome barriers in the central and local bureaucracies,” he said. “The land agency by itself will not be able to solve all of the problems.”