Solidarity Protest outside Indonesian Embassy (London, Dec. 20)

Press Advisory 

Solidarity protest outside Indonesian Embassy

Today at 11am demonstrators will protest at the Indonesian Embassy in solidarity with imprisoned punks in the Aceh region of Indonesia. Several hundred punks and supporters are expected to block the entrance to the Embassy on Grosvenor Square after police detained 64 people at a charity concert for orphans and put them into ‘moral rehabilitation’ in a police prison last week.

Musicians from London’s underground punk scene will speak and a sound system will be set up outside the Embassy. Protestors will demand a statement from the Indonesian Ambassador condemning the attempt to forcibly remove people’s identity and freedom of expression. The protest has been organised to call for an end to human rights abuses in Indonesia, and to the increasing drive towards cultural normalisation that criminalises subcultures like the punk movement.

The protest comes amid international pressure on the Indonesian government, as the Indonesian Embassy in Moscow was splattered with paint and protests planned worldwide. Human rights groups worldwide joined Evi Narti Zain, executive director of the Aceh Human Rights Coalition, who condemned the actions of the police as violent and illegal. Indonesia’s transition towards a democratic system of government has been racked by corruption and economic disparity. This has led to widespread social unrest, while repressive policing has led to a doubling of prison inmates between 2003 and 2008.

A Press Release will go out with further information mid-afternoon.

Call 07432858517 for press enquiries, or email punksolidarity@gmail.com.

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The Jakarta Globe
Aceh ‘Punks’ Arrested for ‘Re-education’
Nurdin Hasan | December 13, 2011

Banda Aceh. Dozens of young people were being held and punished by Aceh police on Tuesday for the supposed crime of being “punk,” despite not being charged with any crime nor being brought before a court.

The 64 music lovers, some of whom had come from as far as Jakarta and West Java, were arrested by regular and Shariah police as they held a charity concert in Banda Aceh’s Taman Budaya park on Saturday night.

Banda Aceh police took the arrestees on Tuesday afternoon to the Aceh State Police School for “reeducation.” Aceh police chief Ins. Gen. Iskandar Hasan described the punishment awaiting them when they reached the police school in the Seulawah hills, 62 kilometers east of the capital.

“There will be a traditional ceremony. First their hair will be cut. Then they will be tossed into a pool. The women’s hair we’ll cut in the fashion of a female police officer,” Iskander said on Tuesday. “Then we’ll teach them a lesson.”

Iskander denied the punishment constituted a breach of human rights.

“We’ll change their disgusting clothes. We’ll replace them with nice clothes. We’ll give them toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, sandals and prayer gear. It will all be given to them,” he said. “I’ll remind [police] not to breach human rights. We are oriented to educating our community, our nation. This is our country too, right?”

Iskandar said he would invite the Muslim Cleric Council to participate in “restoring their [the arrestees’] right thinking and morals.”

Human rights groups opposed the action.

Evi Narti Zain, executive director of the Aceh Human Rights Coalition, said the police’s action was violent and illegal.

“What is this education? The police’s action is inconsistent because the punks did nothing wrong,” Evi said. “Punk music is their way of expressing themselves. It is normal and is found all around the world. It’s their right to express their freedom. There’s nothing wrong with punk kids.”

Aceh Legal Aid Foundation’s director, Hospinovizal Sabri, said he had tried to get the young people released since their arrest on Saturday night.

“On the night the punks were arrested by the Police and Shariah Police we met with them, and we went again to the police station and spoke to some of them this morning [Tuesday],” Hospinovizal said. “We are working hard to have them released because they have breached no law.”

Hospinovizal said he aimed to take a habeas corpus type action before a judge to have the court force the police to release the young people. “There’s a perception from some quarters in Aceh that they are human rubbish, but it is clear they are innocent and are only expressing their independence in their own way.”

Iskandar said their date of release would “depend on the budget from the regional government.”

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The Jakarta Globe
Should I Stay or Should I Go? Punks Flee Re-Education
Nurdin Hasan | December 19, 2011

Banda Aceh. Police have recaptured two young punks, one of them a minor, who escaped “re-education” at a police camp in the hills 62 kilometers east of Banda Aceh.

A police officer lectures a group of detained Indonesian punks at a police school in Aceh Besar in Aceh province. (AFP Photo)

Banda Aceh Police chief Armensyah Thay said Syaukani, 20, and Saiful Fadli, 17, escaped from police custody around noon on Saturday because they “missed their parents.”

The two youths, along with 62 others including six women, have been undergoing forcible “re-education” since Tuesday of last week, when they were arrested without charge during a punk music concert in Taman Budaya, Banda Aceh.

“The two punk kids fooled our officers by saying they wanted to go to the toilet, but after we checked and searched for them they had gone,” Armensyah told reporters on Sunday.

It is believed the two climbed a hill behind the camp and caught a ride back to the city.

Armensyah said his officers had raided places in the capital where they thought the two might be hiding.

“Syaukani was captured at 11 p.m. close to Baiturrahman grand mosque, and Saiful was caught at 2 a.m. at a food stall in Setui,” he said, adding that both were immediately brought back to the re-education camp by police.

After the breakout, police said they would tighten security and ensure continuous surveillance of the youths. “If they want to go to the toilet, they’ll be escorted.”

Armensyah said the Banda Aceh administration had asked police to continue raids searching for punks in the town, to ensure the punk community did not continue to grow in numbers.

The reasoning, Armensyah said, was that the punk ethos was at odds with the teachings of Islam.

Armensyah said he did not know whether the punks would receive similar treatment on an ongoing basis.

“Maybe, if there’s funding for us, we can continue their re-education on an extended basis until they’re better. After that we’ll hand them all over to the city government,” he said.

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Filed under activism, international affairs, political repression, protests

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