Imparsial Live Press
No: 009/Live-Press/ IMP/IX/2021
“Arresting of Farmers in Blitar is Excessive and Arbitrary Action”
On Tuesday, September 7, 2021, police officers arrested a farmer who expressed his opinion during President Jokowi's visit to Blitar. The farmer conveyed his aspirations through a poster with a demand to the president which in essence was to pay more attention to the condition of the farmer. The farmer's action was then responded by members of the police by escorting the farmer to the police station.
We consider that the actions of the police to prevent, prohibit, or even arrest the farmer is an excessive use of force. We view that what these farmers are doing is part of human rights, especially freedom of expression and opinion. This freedom is actually a legitimate expression and is guaranteed in Article 28E paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia which reads "Everyone has the right to freedom to believe in beliefs, to express thoughts and attitudes, in accordance with his conscience in the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia". In addition, the freedom to express opinions in public is also guaranteed by Law no. 9 of 1998 concerning Freedom to Express Opinions in Public.
The arrest of the farmer also adds to the long list of violations against freedom of expression and opinion during the Jokowi administration. The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) previously released the Indonesian Democracy Index, where the freedom of expression index has continued to decline since 2018, namely 66.17, 64.29 in 2019, and 56.06. These arrests will certainly worsen the situation of freedom of expression in Indonesia and generally worsen the quality of human rights protection in Indonesia.
We view that the arrests carried out by the police are wrong and cannot be justified for any reason. The act of obstructing let alone prohibiting and arresting farmers who express their opinion is an excessive use of force and should be suspected of violating Law no. 9 of 1998 concerning Freedom to Express Opinions in Public.
Therefore, we urge the police leadership to take concrete steps by evaluating members who are proven to have committed violations both ethically and criminally. Furthermore, the police leadership must also formulate policies to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future. In the future, the police should protect and guarantee the expression of opinions in public and not hinder them. In addition, we urge the police to immediately release and restore the good name of the farmer.
We also urge that the government of President Joko Widodo can protect the freedom of expression and opinion which has so far been considered to have been degraded and weakened. The Jokowi government must not be allergic to criticism or protests from the public and strictly forbids the state apparatus from being repressive towards those who protest or criticize the government.
Jakarta, September 8th, 2021
Hussein Ahmad (researcher): 081259668926