Indonesian activists harassed by military, police

June 23, 2007

Activists from the Indonesian National Student League for Democracy (LMND) and the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) in the East Kalimantan city of Balikpapan have been the targets of harassment by the local government officials, police and the military (TNI).

The harassment began on June 11 when the LMND's local office received a letter from the Balikpapan City Islamic Activities Centre claiming that activities at the LMND secretariat were "disturbing the local community". Copies were sent to local government officials, the sub-district military command (Koramil), the Babinsa (non-commissioned officer posted in villages) and public security officers (Linmas).

On June 13 the regional leadership board of Papernas was summoned by the local National Elections Commission (KPU) to answer questions about the party. However when Papernas member Sa'I went to the KPU offices he was met by a police officer who asked him to write down details of Papernas's structure and the cell phone numbers of local activists. Military intelligence officers also contacted Papernas's treasurer on several occasions.

The following day the LMND secretariat was visited by a Babinsa, two Koramil officers, three security officers, two police officers and two Linmas members who claimed they were checking ID cards. The officials then proceeded to ask questions about the activities of the LMND and Papernas and why there were anti-TNI posters on the wall and pictures depicting "communist figures" such as Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez.

Five activists from the Balikpapan Urban Poor Union (SRMK) who were unable to produce ID cards were later subjected to similar questions.

On June 15, around 10 civil service police forced their way into the LMND secretariat claiming that they were conducting a law and order campaign against people without ID cards. Alongside the LMND office is the Indonesian National Student's Movement secretariat, but that was not visited by police.

In recent months Papernas and affiliated organisations such as the LMND have come under systematic attack from right-wing thugs such as the Islamic Defenders Front. On March 13 in the Central Sulawesi city of Palu, some 30 TNI officers attacked the Papernas office, seriously injuring three activists.

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