President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday scolded the police for being too quick to use their firearms against civilians, particularly during protests and demonstrations.
“Put away the bullet and don’t use the bullet easily,” Yudhoyono said in a meeting with National Police top brass on Tuesday. “This applies from the National Police chief-level up to the frontline troops. Regardless if the [civilians] are rioters, they are still our people.”
The president reminded the officials that Indonesia’s democratic government guaranteed people the freedom of assembly and protest.
He added that protesters that crossed the line into law-breaking should still be dealt with humanely, and that violent measures should remain a last resort for police.
The speech came on the heels of a National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) report released on Monday that gave police the dishonor of being the arm of government most often reported to the commission in 2011. Ifdhal Kasim, the head of the commission, said that complaints about the police totaled 1,262 cases.
Ifdhal said that it was evidence that neither the force’s General Oversight Inspectorate (Irwasum) nor its Bureau of Professionalism and Security Affairs (Propam) were preventing officers from abusing their authority.
Yudhoyono said that police were responsible for capturing violent civilians and allowing the courts of law to prosecute them, not employing “street justice.”