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Tuesday, 31 July, 2012 | 14:19 WIB
Limbang Jaya Tragedy
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:The bloody clashes in the village of Limbang Jaya, Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, prove that the police still prefer to take shortcuts. Uncivilized ways are still used to deal with land and natural resource disputes. The truckloads of Mobile Brigade officers from the South Sumatran Police along with the gegana bomb squad looked as if they were going to war against terrorists instead of protecting civilians.
The consistent recurrence of brutal acts in handling public protests over land conflicts gives the impression the police are deliberately ignoring procedures that promote dialogue and persuasion. In the aftermath we can only regret the consequence of these unnecessary repressive actions: a crime against humanity that continues to happen again and again. Angga bin Darmawan, 12 years old, died instantly after he was shot in the head by a police officer. Three other people suffered gunshot wounds to the chest, arms, shoulders, and legs.
Spots of dry blood at the scene of the boy's death indicate that the Mobile Brigade really did shoot the victim. This was corroborated by the findings of a team of local advocacy NGOs that claim they have saved the sharp bullet casings as evidence. From those injured, the team also found ammunition fragments. The findings in the field brushed aside the premature claim by the chief of the Indonesian Police, general Timur Pradopo that Brimob members did not use live ammunition at all.
The violence was a result of a land dispute with 22 villagers around the PTPN VII Cinta Manis plantation. The furor was related to the annexation of land the people used to earn their living from on the state-owned sugar cane plantation. And, even if any of the people had allegedly stolen 127 tons of Cinta Manisí fertilizer as alleged, the solution should not have been so aggressive. The police violence might have been the result of a misguided sense of obedience.
This bloody incident must be investigated immediately. The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) must go to the field quickly to find out what really happened. The local police hospital, Bhayangkara, should also be free of police intervention. All autopsy and victim reports, which will be important evidence, must be disclosed in a transparent manner. Komnas HAM should be supported by the Witness and Victims Protection Agency, which should immediately provide protection to the local community.
It would be even more solid if the Ombudsman also goes to the field. They could jointly investigate and reconstruct the chronology of events. Simultaneous steps need to be taken to show how grave the incident was and how critical closure is. We should not fully entrust the investigation in the hands of the Police. It is normal to doubt that they would have the courage to adopt an independent approach. What commonly happens is the corps tend to cover up the poor actions of its members.
Whatever the result, the joint teamís findings should not be ignored. Officials found guilty should be punished accordingly. Reaction to this case is a measure of the extent to which the police are committed to carrying out their duties professionally in protecting the public.