|Subject: JP: U.S. Crowd control training labeled
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 09:19:18 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Jakarta Post 13 July 1999
Crowd control training labeled useless
JAKARTA (JP): A 10-day training course on crowd control given by the U.S government to the Indonesian Police will be useless, and would be used by local officers only to break up student and worker demonstrations here, lawyers and students said on Monday.
In a discussion at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute on violence committed by security personnel against demonstrators, the activists regretted the U.S.-sponsored training, which started on Monday at the National Police Mobil Brigade Unit headquarters in Kelapa Dua, south of Jakarta.
The institute's social and political head, Daniel Panjaitan, said the training, which included 50 police officers ranked between second lieutenant and captain, would not give much benefit to Indonesian police.
"It's just a way to share experiences and would not give a (positive) result for our police. Our police system is different from the U.S.," Daniel, who attended the training as an observer, told The Jakarta Post.
He said Indonesia's police would continue to use violence against demonstrators, since they are still part of the military system.
"Actually our police already know the skills to control the protesters properly. But they do not use it in the field," he said.
The institute's labor division head, Surya Tjandra, said he was worried the training would be used by police to disrupt student and worker demonstrations.
"We should remember how members of the Army's Kopassus (special forces), whose personnel were trained by the U.S., kidnapped student activists. We should stop this from happening again," Surya said.
He was referring to 11 Kopassus soldiers who were sentenced by a military court on April 6 to between one year and 22 months in prison for abducting nine political activists in the last month of Soeharto's regime in 1998.
Surya said the Indonesian police would use the training to justify their dispersal of demonstrations and treatment of activists as being in line with standard procedures.
He said the training was intended to gradually reduce the number of street rallies, which have been mostly conducted by students and workers and have often ended in clashes with officers.
Such public protests, which were often referred to by police as "public order disturbances", should not be dispersed because they are part of freedom of expression, he said.
"Police should protect the demonstrators, instead of beating and shooting them," he said.
Meanwhile, Suma Miharja, a member of the Big Family of the University of Indonesia (KBUI) student group, also said that the training would not change the abusive attitude of the police against student protesters.
"If the police use the training to press us further, the students' feelings of hate for the police would increase further," Suma warned.
He said student groups are currently arranging new strategies following a clash between police officers and activists of the Democratic People's Party in front of the General Election Commission (KPU) office on Jl. Imam Bonjol, Central Jakarta, early this month. (jun)