Scenes of violence erupted in the numerous large-scale demonstrations throughout Indonesia yesterday as thousands of university students came out to voice their anger towards the government and Parliament over several controversial bills, the ongoing haze crisis, and violence in Papua, among other pressing issues facing the country.
Numerous videos depicting alleged police brutality against the protesters in numerous locations have also gone viral online. But, thus far, only one, from the North Sumatra capital Medan, has been verified by authorities.
In the extremely distressing video, a couple of people — who appear to be student protesters — were beaten with batons, sticks and kicked by police officers — some wearing riot gear — as they were being led inside the Provincial Council (DPRD) building. One protester, in particular, was on the receiving end of numerous blows from the officers, causing him to fall to the ground, after which he continued to be beaten.
According to reports, four of the officers believed to carry out the act of police brutality in the video are being internally investigated by police in Medan. Three of them are reportedly members of the public order Sabhara squad while one is a provost personnel.
“Brushes [of violence] is normal in protests. Especially if [our personnel] were pelted with rocks. But when there’s torture [of civilians], we will investigate, as we would if there’s vandalism and assault,” North Sumatra Police Chief Agus Andrianto said yesterday, as quoted by Okezone.
Agus added that the Medan Police have arrested 53 protesters for inciting violence, one of whom is a fugitive in a terrorism case.
There’s no official word yet on what happened to the students who were assaulted in the video.
Based on data gathered as of this morning, 232 people — consisting mostly of students and some police officers and journalists — were reportedly injured during the two days of protests throughout Indonesia. Three of them are reportedly in critical condition after protesting at the DPRD building in Medan yesterday, though no connection has been made between them and the victims of police brutality in the video.