INDONESIA: Withdraw police officers and stop the seizure of people’s living space in the Wadas village

An Open Letter from the Asian Legal Resource Centre to the Chief of National Police

Chief of National Police (KAPOLRI)
Jl. Trunojoyo Number 3 Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12110

Telephone: +62 21 384 8537, 726 0306
Fax: +62 21 7220 669
Electronic mail:

Dear General:

INDONESIA: Withdraw police officers and stop the seizure of people’s living space in the Wadas village

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) strongly condemns the raid by the police and the criminalization of a number of residents, that occurred in the Wadas village.

We witnessed thousands of officers who came down and conducted sweeping operation in the Wadas Village as an intimidating and excessive measure of the police in responding to the residents’ rejection of the existence of mining. In addition, the arrest of a number of residents without clear reasons shows the repressive and arbitrary nature of the apparatus, especially if it is related to development or investment interests.

Based on information, since Monday the 7th February 2022, hundreds of police officers have held an assembly and set up tents in the Kaliboto Field, located close to the entrance to the Wadas village. The establishment of the tent coincided with the interruption of the electricity supply, which only focused on the Wadas village, and the arrival of hundreds of police officers to conduct security measures of the Bener dam project.

We also received information about the alleged intimidation experienced by the residents of the Wadas village. In addition to the alleged intimidation attempt, on the same day (08/02/2022), hundreds of police equipped with shields, tear gas, and police dogs began to enter the Wadas village on foot and on motorbikes to remove banners against mining residents of the Wadas village. The police conducted sweeping operations around the residents’ houses, and forcibly arrested residents who wanted to perform the dhuhur prayer at the mosque.

In addition to this, the police also chased local residents into the forest area. Security measures by hundreds of members of the police are not notified to the public. As of the publication of this release, based on the information we have gathered, at least 25 people have been brought to the Bener police, including the legal team from LBH Yogyakarta.

The efforts made by the police clearly indicate the use of excessive force. The steps of raids, arbitrary arrests, terror and the pursuit of the community illustrate the complexity of the problem of human rights violations in the Wadas village. In fact, this kind of agrarian conflict should be approached through the applicable legal and civil mechanisms. A violence based approach to security will only create a sense of trauma for the community. At least we noted that there were several points of violation, including the following:

1. Acts of violence, intimidation, threatening and intimidation as well as the making of arrests of a number of residents who objected to the BPN’s measurement activities. This is contrary to the Regulation of the National Police Chief Number 8 of 2009 concerning the Implementation of Human Rights;

2. The deployment of a very large number of members of the Police is not in accordance with proportionality, necessity, prevention and reasonableness as regulated in Perkap Number 1 of 2009;

3. Efforts to measure land should also not be able to be done because there is a dispute with the community which must be resolved first to reach consensus.
The involvement of the police to carry out security shows that there is coercion on the measurement that occurs and ignores the participatory principle. Furthermore, we are concerned that this arbitrary attitude will continue to be carried out without regard to the public interest.

Based on the above, we urge several parties:

First, Bener police to release all residents who have been arbitrarily arrested;

Second, the Central Java police to withdraw all officers who carried out security in measuring land in the Wadas village;

Third, the Governor of Central Java to ensure a safe dialogue space for Wadas residents without any measurement or other activities before reaching consensus;

Fourth, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) RI to file an objection to the police for the excessive use of force that occurred in the Wadas village.

We convey this official open letter, and thank you for your attention and cooperation.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,


Basil Fernando
Director of Policy and Programmes, Asian Human Rights Commission,
Hong Kong