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INDONESIA: Police killed two villagers and injured 82 others in anti-gold mining protest

February 10, 2012

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-021-2012

10 February 2012
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INDONESIA: Police killed two villagers and injured 82 others in anti-gold mining protest

ISSUES: Police violence; freedom of expression; extrajudicial killing; food security; right to land; rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) received information that the police shot local farmers who were demonstrating against the gold exploration plan in several sub-districts in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara Province, on 24 December 2011. Two villagers died and 77 others were injured in the shooting. Five others were also injured by police violence. Police arrested the protesters and 37 were reportedly held in custody whereas only two police officers were sentenced to a light two-day imprisonment for the attack.

CASE NARRATIVE:

(Photo: Protest against gold exploration plans and land grabbing/source: KontraS)

According to the information from the Commission for the Disappeared Victims of Violence (KontraS), a human rights group based in Jakarta, in the early morning of 24 December 2011, about 500 police officers came to Sape Seaport, Bima, where local farmers were conducting a peaceful demonstration against the gold exploration plan in the sub-districts of Sape, Lambu and Langgudu of Bima Regency. The Bima Regent, Mr. Ferry Zulkarnaen, had given concession to PT. Sumber Mineral Nusantara (SMN) for gold exploration on 24,980 hectares of land in Sape, Lambu and Langgudu, Bima. To suppress and disperse the protest, armed police officers led by the Head of Bima District Police, AKBP Kumpul KS arrived at the scene. Moreover, snipers were reportedly positioned on the roof of local houses, and there were approximately 15 ambulances provided by the police.

Mr. Hassanudin, who led the demonstration, informed the police that they would leave the port if the police agreed to provide them with a guarantee letter for their safety. Despite this peaceful proposal, Mr. Hassanudin was arrested and the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) started shooting at protesters and villagers, resulting in two deaths and the injury of 77 persons. Five others were injured as a result of police beatings. The police arrested protesters while kicking and hitting them with guns; 37 of those arrested are still being held in custody. The police later conducted an operation to find and arrest the participants of the demonstration in surrounding villages.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) subsequently claimed that the shooting amounted to violations of Law No. 39 Year 1999 on Human Rights. The NHRC gave its investigation result to the Indonesian National Police, which responded by promising that it would ‘follow-up what the NHRC has found’ so that ‘it is clear to us what actually the problems are about’. The National Head of Police, General Timur Pradopo, also promised that the investigation and trial regarding this case would be transparent.

On 19 January 2012, two members of the Mobile Brigade were sentenced to two days in prison, and a two-month delay of their educational programs was sanctioned. First Brig. Wahidin and First Brig. Furqon were convicted by the West Nusa Tenggara Police’s disciplinary court for insubordination and violating procedures. As the police disciplinary court does not provide criminal accountability, the responsible officers must be properly investigated, prosecuted and punished in accordance with Indonesia’s criminal procedure law.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

PT. Sumber Mineral Nusantara (SMN) is a multinational mining company, 95 percent of whose shares are held by Arc Exploration, an Australian publicly listed company along with Indonesian partner, Sumber Mineral Nusantara focused on gold exploration in Indonesia. Refusal to the gold exploration plan from local farmers in Lambu sub-district had been expressed since October 2010. Although SMN obtained the exploration permit from the Regency administration in 2008, the local residents were aware of this only since 2010 because the permit was granted without any consultation or notification to the local residents who would be affected. Furthermore, the residents have been expressing their concern that the gold mine operation will dry up the water resources, which would disrupt the farmers’ agricultural activities and livelihood. The question about environmental destruction has been also raised. (Photo: Destroyed property after clashes and police attack/source: KontraS)

Assisted by local students, in January 2011 the farmers held another demonstration urging the Head of Lambu sub-district to sign an open letter refusing the exploration plan. The Head of Lambu sub-district failed to sign the open letter for the reason that it required a consultation with the Bima Regent. Later in December 2011, the local farmers held a demonstration and visited several heads of villages to collect their signatures and support to oppose the gold mining.

As the administration continued to ignore the farmers’ concerns, the farmers decided to occupy Sape Seaport to urge the Bima Regent to revoke the concession. The demonstration started on 19 December 2011, but on the fifth day, hundreds of police officers including Brimob officers as well as patrol (sabhara) came to the port. Their intention was to disperse the demonstration as it was disturbing the activities of ferries and ships wishing to dock in the port. The representatives of the farmers were later invited by the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) for a dialogue, along with the representatives of the police. The dialogue led to the conclusion that the safety of the protesters would be guaranteed as they leave the port and that the local government will re-evaluate the concession issued to the company.

The shooting in Sape Port led to the anger of local residents and brought the land issue to the attention of the public. After persistent pressures from the local farmers in Bima as well as various civil society organizations, the Regent decided to revoke the permit it previously gave to SMN as confirmed by the Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Jero Wacik, on 26 January 2012.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

According to Law No. 9 Year 1998 concerning Freedom to Express Opinion in Public, state officers have the obligation to protect human rights where citizens are expressing their opinion in public. This obligation is also emphasised in the Head of Indonesian National Police Regulation No. 16 Year 2006 concerning Guidance on Mass Control. Moreover, the same regulation sets out that in dealing with protests, police officers are not allowed to take live ammunitions. Article 7 (2) (d) of the Head of Indonesian National Police Regulation No. 1 Year 2009 on Use of Force establishes that weapons with live ammunitions can be used only against aggressive activities which require urgent response, that is, activities which may cause severe injury or death, threaten the decency of police officers or may threaten public safety.

These rules are in accordance with the well established international human rights standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials. As rightly set out in the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, law enforcement officials shall use force and firearms ‘only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.’ Non-violent means should always be used first, before resorting to force and firearms. Any officials who use force and firearms arbitrarily or abusively should be punished as a criminal offence under the law. This principle is also reiterated in the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, which states that the use of force shall only be exercised ‘when strictly necessary’ and ‘to the extent required for the performance of their duty.’

In terms of land rights and multinational companies’ activities, international human rights standards oblige the states to consult communities before granting mining permits to such companies. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has published the Minimum Human Rights Principles Applicable to Large-scale Land Acquisition or Leases, which reads ‘[t]he negotiations leading to investment agreement should be conducted in a fully transparent manner, and with the participation of the local communities whose access to land and other productive resources may be affected as a result of the investment agreement’. Furthermore, states have to ensure that ‘any shifts in land use can only take place with the free, prior, and informed consent of the local communities concerned’. In his communication regarding Indonesia, the UN Special Rapporteur himself has also expressed his concerns regarding the lack of consultation and discussion with the communities in a case involving a company in East Nusa Tenggara province.

The principle of public participation as enshrined in the international human rights documents are not reflected in Indonesian laws, particularly in Law No. 4 Year 2009 on Mineral and Coals Mining. This law establishes that granting concession is an exclusive authority of the Regent, Mayor, Governor or relevant Minister – depending on the location of the land on which the mining activities are about to be conducted – and there is no obligation for them to consult the local communities who are likely to be affected by the mining activities. The absence of a substantive public participation provision in this law shows the failure of the law to provide any preventive protection to local communities from the negative impacts of the companies’ activities. The law only has one article concerning the rights of local communities in this matter, that is, to ask for compensation and to sue the mining companies for any abuses and loss caused by the activities of the company. For this reason, several NGOs in Indonesia have filed a constitutional review submission to the Constitutional Court, but the judgment has yet to be delivered.

The police’s internal accountability mechanism lacks impartiality and repeatedly gives lenient punishment to officers involved in violence and illegal behaviour. Furthermore, the prosecutor often avoids criminal proceedings when the police internal mechanism addresses the case. It must be noted that not only does the police internal disciplinary mechanism not provide sufficient accountability, but more essentially, it is not a replacement of criminal procedure.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities listed below urging them to ensure that a thorough investigation be conducted into this incident and the responsible police officers held accountable.

The AHRC will send separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and on the right to adequate food respectively.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Sample letter:

Dear __________,

INDONESIA: Police killed two villagers and injured 82 others in anti-gold mining protest

Name of victims: At least two protesters died (Arif Rahman, 18-years-old; Syaiful a.k.a Fu, 17-years-old); 77 persons injured due to the shootings, five persons injured due to police violence.
Name of alleged perpetrators: Police officers in Bima District Police, led by AKBP Kumpul KS
Date of incident: 24 December 2011
Place of incident: Sape Seaport, Bima, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the shooting of farmers in Sape Seaport, Bima, which took place on 24 December 2011. I was informed that the farmers were conducting a peaceful demonstration in Sape Seaport when approximately 500 armed police officers led by the Head of Bima District Police, AKBP Kumpul K.S., came and started shooting at the protesters. I am aware that the shooting resulted in the deaths of at least two student protesters and the injury of 77 others. I was also told that the excessive use of force by the police towards the protesters had caused the injury of five people and that at least 37 people were arrested due to their involvement in the demonstration.

The demonstration held on 24 December 2011 in the seaport was part of the long campaign conducted by the farmers against the gold exploration permit given by the Regent of Bima, Mr. Ferry Zulkarnaen, to PT. Sumber Mineral Nusantara (SMN). This permit had allowed SMN to conduct an exploration on 24,980 hectares of land located in the sub-district of Sape, Lambu and Langgudu. Despite their disagreement with the local government regarding the exploration plan, the farmers conducted the demonstrations peacefully. In fact, on the day before the shooting took place, the representatives of the local farmers had agreed to leave the seaport on the condition that their safety will be guaranteed. Mr. Hassanudin, who led the demonstration, had also informed this to police before the police officers started firing at them. Therefore, there were no legitimate reasons for the police to deploy excessive use of force towards the protesters at that time. The necessity of locating snipers on the rooftop of the residents’ houses is to be questioned as well.

The decision to excessively use force and firearms again the protesters in this case are in contradiction to the Head of Indonesian National Police Regulation No.16 Year 2006 regarding Guidance on Mass Control, which obliges the police officers to respect human rights and protect lives when they are dealing with protesters. I am aware that according to this regulation as well as the Head of Indonesian National Police Regulation No. 1 Year 2009 on the Use of Force, live ammunition should not be used against peaceful protesters and can only be used to stop aggressive activities which require urgent response, that is, activities which may cause severe injury or death, threaten the decency of police officers or threaten public safety. I was informed that the activities of the protesters at that time did not amount to such ‘aggressive activities requiring urgent response’.

I am writing this letter also to express my disappointment with the slow and inadequate response of the Indonesian government, especially the Indonesian National Police, on this particular issue.

Despite the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) which reveals that the shooting amounted to the violations of right to life, a criminal investigation in this case has yet to be conducted. Instead, on 17 January 2012 two members of the Mobile Brigade (Brimob), First Brig. Wahidin and First Brig. Furqon, were only sentenced to two days imprisonment and a two-month delay of their educational programmes for ‘insubordination and violating procedures’ during the shooting at Sape Seaport.

I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that this case should not be merely seen as a violation of police internal rules and procedures but, even more seriously, a criminal act as well as a human rights violation. As pointed out by the UN Human Rights Committee in its General Comment on the Right to Life, ‘[t]he deprivation of life by the authorities of the State is a matter of the utmost gravity.’ The Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials further emphasises that the government is obliged to ensure that any arbitrary or abusive use of force should be punished as a criminal offence. Therefore, it is essential for the relevant authorities in Indonesia to investigate this case effectively, promptly and adequately as well as punish those who are responsible according to the law, otherwise the Indonesian government will be in a further breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which it ratified in 2006. I am of the opinion that the police internal accountability mechanism repeatedly gives lenient punishment to officers and lacks impartiality. Furthermore, the prosecutor often avoids criminal proceedings when the police internal mechanism addresses the case. It must be noted that not only does the police internal disciplinary mechanism not provide sufficient accountability, but more essentially, it is not a replacement of criminal procedure.

While I welcome the recent decision of the Bima Regent revoking the permit granted to SMN, it is regrettable that the relevant principles were not initially respected in this case, thus leading to the clash between the police and local residents. As set out by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food in the Minimum Human Rights Principles Applicable to Large-scale Land Acquisition or Leases, the Indonesian government has the obligation to ensure that ‘[t]he negotiations leading to investment agreement should be conducted in a fully transparent manner, and with the participation of the local communities whose access to land and other productive resources may be affected as a result of the investment agreement’. Furthermore, it has to ensure that ‘any shifts in land use can only take place with the free, prior, and informed consent of the local communities concerned’. The Indonesian government should have paid more attention to this matter as the Special Rapporteur himself has highlighted this issue in his previous communications report with the government regarding a similar case in East Nusa Tenggara.

In this regard, I urge you to ensure that an effective and prompt criminal investigation on the shooting in Sape Seaport is conducted, those who are responsible are properly punished, and that adequate reparation is given to the victims. I further urge you to take steps to ensure that no exploration concessions or permits are granted to companies but in accordance to legal and human rights principles, and after an independent environmental, social and cultural assessment has first been conducted.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 386 3777, 350 3088
Fax: +62 21 344 2223

2. Mr. Jero Wacik
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources
Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan No. 18
Jakarta Pusat 10110
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 381 3232
Fax: +62 384 7461
E-mail: pusdatin@esdm.go.id

3. Dr. Ir. Suswono
Minister of Agriculture
Ged. A, Lt. II Kmr. 219
Jl. Harsono RM No. 3
Ragunan, Jakarta Selatan
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 780 4086, 780 4056
Fax: +62 21 7883 3066
E-mail: suswono@deptan.go.id

4. Prof. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
Human Rights General Director
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. C-1 Kuningan
Jakarta Selatan 12920
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 252 1344
Fax: +62 21 45555 5676
E-mail: info@ham.go.id

5. Gen. Timur Pradopo
Chief of Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Jakarta Selatan
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 721 8012
Fax: +62 21 720 7277
E-mail: polri@polri.go.id, info@polri.go.id

6. Brig. Gen. Pol. Arief Wachyunadi
Heaf of West Nusa Tenggara Regional Police
Jl. Gajah Mada, Mataram
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 370 385 11
Fax: + +62 370 223 05

7. Mr. Basrief Arief
Attorney General
Kejaksaan Agung RI
Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin No. 1
Jakarta Selatan
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 722 1337, 739 7602
Fax: +62 21 7250 213
E-mail: postmaster@kejaksaan.or.id

8. Mr. Ifdhal Kasim
Chairperson
KOMNAS HAM (National Human Rights Commission)
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng
Jakarta Pusat 10310
INDONESIA
Tel:+62 21 3925 230
Fax: +62 21 3151042/3925227
E-mail: info@komnasham.or.id


Thank you


Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
AHRC-UAC-021-2012
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.