Re : Banned of the paralalel activity of civil society in WOC, Menado, North Sulawesi
To: National Police Chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri
Brigadier General Bekto Suprapto, head of North Sulawesi police force
The Commission on the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) is deeply concerned about the detention of both the executive director and campaign coordinator of WALHI, Berry Furqon and Erwin Usman, during a protest marking the opening of the alternative forum to the World Ocean Conference (WOC).
Apart from the arrests, local police broke up the Justice Forum for Marine Affairs (FKPP), an alternate forum set up as a response to the WOC meeting. The police also destroyed parts of the FKPP‘s meeting setup on RS Prof Ddr. Kandou Field on May 9, where the event was originally supposed to take place. The police had apparently withdrawn the letter of permission to hold the event, but had not notified FKPP. There has been no reason given for any of the events.
FKPP was ready to hold workshops, seminars, and cultural exhibitions on traditional fishing along with the Indonesian Seaman’s Association (KPI) from May 9 – 17. The organizing committee had already received permission from the police on April 28, which was forwarded to other police bodies. On May 7, Kesbang Linmas Manado also gave its permission. As a result of this, the committee changed the location of the events to the yard of the Kolongon Beach Hotel.
Shortly afterward, fisherman in boats who were going to attend the Indonesian Seaman’s Association were blocked by the police. The police actions made it seem like the FKKP activities would not go forward.
We consider the police actions to be an excessive response to peaceful civil society activities. FKPP’s activities were an expression of their rights to expression as protected in the constitution and laws on human rights. Part of the police’s duties are to protect those rights to free expression, not to prevent their expression.
FKPP’s activities must be seen as a positive contribution to the World Ocean Conference, which should represent the interests of fisherman.
Kontras hopes the police can consider their actions since international groups attended both the WOC and FKPP forums. The police’s decision to prevent the FKPP program from moving forward will be seen by the international community as a reflection of Indonesia’s current state in democratization. The police must show, but haven‘t yet, that Indonesia has moved far from the conditions under the former regime.
Kontras asks that the police take the intiative to look at their actions; it will help improve the image of their professionalism in the eyes of the people.
Jakarta, May 11, 2009
Abusaid Pelu, SH
Head of the Department of Politics, Law, and Human Rights
Head of Komisi III of the Indoensian Parliament (DPR)
National Police Commission
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia