News ID: 259310
Published: 0159 GMT September 27, 2019

Indonesia president urges police restraint after protesters' deaths

Indonesia president urges police restraint after protesters' deaths

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday called for police restraint and promised an investigation into the deaths of two students killed during protests that have spread to become the country’s biggest in decades.

The protests, against new laws, began on Monday and have turned violent in several places, with more than 300 hurt in the capital, Jakarta alone, prompting calls from Amnesty International for an investigation into what it called “massive” aggression by law enforcement, who had fired tear gas and used water cannon, Reuters reported.

Demonstrators’ anger is focused on a revised law that activists say will hobble Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency, and plans to penalize insulting the president’s honor and outlaw extramarital sex.

The two dead university students, both male, were part of a rally on Thursday in Kendari on the island of Sulawesi. One died the same day and the other on Friday. Police gave the cause of one of the deaths as bullet wounds.

Another student was critically wounded with head injuries after a protest in Jakarta on Tuesday, officials and the university said on Wednesday.

More rallies took place in the capital on Friday, but on a smaller scale than on previous days and no clashes were reported. Police chief Tito Karnavian said at least 200 people had been arrested since the protests began.

The Indonesian president said on Thursday that he was considering revoking the new anti-corruption law.

On Friday he said he had ordered a probe into the two deaths, telling reporters in Jakarta, “I told the national police chief that his personnel should not act repressively.”

Karnavian has said officers were barred from using firearms or sharp weapons to contain the protests.

National Police spokesman M. Iqbal said an investigation into the student deaths, including autopsies, was underway, and that if it concluded they had been shot, strict action would be taken against the perpetrators, even if they were found to be police.

Widodo is due to be sworn in for a second term on October 20 after winning national election.

Chief Security Minister Wiranto has said the student protests were hijacked by a group aiming to disrupt parliament and Widodo’s inauguration next month.

The president also said on Thursday that he planned to meet with student representatives, though on Friday State Secretary Pratikno said no schedule has yet been set for a meeting.


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