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Indonesian activists arrested for rally on Tibet

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Three Indonesian activists were arrested for participating in the “Free Tibet, No Human Rights, No Olympics” rally in Jakarta on 22 April, 2008. The police claimed the demonstrators did not notify them earlier about the action, but the activists said they had submitted their notification to the provincial police department.  The activists said the police had violated their basic human rights of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed in the international convention ratified by Indonesia.

(Jakarta) We, the Indonesian Society for Tibet, regret deeply the arrest of several activists engaged in a peaceful “Free Tibet, No Human Rights, No Olympics” demonstration by security apparatuses in front of the Senayan Gate at 10am this morning.
The arrest started when one of the activists, Mr. Nino, sang a song. Suddenly a police officer wearing a black helmet, believed to be from PPRM (Mass Riots Control Force) tried to take down two banners at the GBK fence main gate.
Witnessing the action, Abdul Haris, Gatot, Adam (the trio are from LBH Jakarta) and Awal (from Kp. Pilar) approached the police officers and asked for the return of the banners, which did not belong to the police.

But the police officers did not want to hand over the banners, resulting in a struggle between the two parties to get a hold of the banners. The police officers who were present at the GBK fence main gate came over to the site and arrested Adam, Awal and Abdul Haris.

KontraS staff, Abu and Alam, tried to negotiate with the police to release the three activists. Instead of engaging the duo, the police officer dragged Adam away and hit him. Several activists tried to pull Adam away from the police.

At the time of writing, Adam, Abdul Haris, and Gatot were still detained by the police.

Meanwhile, during the rally, AKBP Heri Wibowo (Deputy Chief Police District for Central Jakarta) requested that Abu, Tri Agus and Nico ask the crowd to disperse as they had not notified the police earlier about the demonstration. Nico said that he had faxed a letter of notification to the Province Police Metro Jaya.

The arrest of the activists was a manifestation of the denial of civil society’s freedom to express their opinions. This right is guaranteed in the International Convention on the Civil and Political Rights, which had been ratified by Indonesia in Law No. 12 (2005), which stipulates that everyone has the right to freedom of expression; “this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.

22 April, 2008