MAKASSAR/SEMARANG - Journalists and other circles in Makassar, South Sulawesi, have condemned police brutality against students and journalists when police stormed Makassar State University (UNM) on Thursday.
Scores of journalists from various associations, including the Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI) Makassar chapter, Indonesian Journalists Association and Indonesian Photojournalists Association, held a rally condemning the police for assaulting and seizing camera memory cards from journalists covering the incident.
During the incident, seven journalists were victims of police brutality. Makassar MetroTV correspondent Vincent Waldy suffered injuries after being hit by a police officer with a shield.
Waldy was assaulted by police when he separated photographer Iqbal and police, who got into a quarrel when the police seized his camera and memory card.
The incident started when the police raided the UNM campus after a clash between students and police officers took place when the students blocked a road during a rally to protest the government's plan to increase subsidized fuel prices.
During the clash, Makassar City Police deputy chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Totok Lisdianto was shot in the right armpit with an arrow.
UNM Deputy Rector Heri Tahir regretted the police raid on the campus, with police even entering classrooms while lectures were ongoing.
"The police should have restrained themselves from entering the campus," Heri said.
He said four classrooms and glass windows were damaged in the raid.
However, Heri asked the students not to block roads and clash with police officers when rallying against the planned fuel price hike.
South Sulawesi Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Setiadji promised on Friday to investigate the officers who had allegedly beaten the journalists.
Separately, Makassar Legal Aid Institute member Edy Kurniawan deemed the act as having violated basic human rights and planned to file a report with the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).
"The assault and confiscation of journalists' equipment is clearly a violation of human rights and Komnas HAM must deal with it," he said.
The violence against the journalists sparked solidarity from fellow newshounds across the country.
In Semarang dozens of journalists staged a rally in the city centre, performing a theatrical act showing the violence committed by the police.
"We deplore violence against journalists. We demand the police investigate the violence and their officers," photojournalist Arif Nugroho said.
Gorontalo print and broadcast journalists also staged a rally on Friday, urging the officers allegedly involved in the violence be brought to justice.
Similarly, Padang journalists unfurled a banner in front the West Sumatra Police headquarters, asking the perpetrators of the violence be legally processed.
Syamsul Huda M. Suhari and Syofiardi Bachyul Jb also contributed to the story.