Thu, 25 Aug 1994

Police complete dossier on union leader

JAKARTA (JP): The North Sumatra police have turned the dossier on union leader Muchtar Pakpahan over to the local prosecution office in connection with his alleged role in the workers' riots in Medan last April.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. I Ketut Ratta told reporters yesterday that the police built their case against Muchtar based on Chapters 160 and 161 of the Criminal Code.

Chapter 160 refers to instigating or provoking others to commit violent acts or crime. It carries a maximum penalty of six years in jail.

Chapter 161 refers to instigating others to commit violent acts or crime through the publication of written materials. It carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail.

Muchtar was picked up at his Jakarta home early this month by police and taken to Medan for interrogation in connection with the week-long workers' riot last April.

He is the chairman of the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI), a two-year-old organization which has been contesting the government's policy of recognizing the All Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI) as the only organization allowed to represent workers in disputes with managements.

SBSI officials have admitted that they mobilized the massive workers' protest in Medan last April, but stressed that the violence occurred because the workers were unnecessarily provoked.

One businessman died in the riot and dozens of factories in Medan's outskirts were looted and ransacked.

The police dossier states that Muchtar made frequent visits to Medan before the April 14 riot. He met with local labor leaders during those visits. It was during these meetings that he provoked them to go on a strike and break the law, Ratta said.

Muchtar was also present at several meetings in Medan when the plans to stage the massive protest were discussed, he added.

Throughout the week-long riot, Muchtar was in Jakarta, but he was monitoring the situation through his subordinates in Medan.

In Jakarta yesterday, 40 activists from several non- governmental organizations staged a peaceful demonstration outside the House of Representatives, demanding Muchtar's release without any preconditions.

The NGOs, which have formed an alliance called Solidarity for the Defense of Labor Rights, urged the House and also the National Commission on Human Rights to investigate Muchtar's arrest.

They group also called for the restoration of the right to organize and freedom of expression.

In Medan, the local SBSI leader Amosi Telaumbanua yesterday was arraigned in a district court on charges of inciting the April riots.

The state prosecutors said Amosi gave the command to start the protest march last April. He also helped produce the leaflets calling for the protest and distributed them at various factories in Medan.

The SBSI was calling for the protest to push for a hike in the official minimum wage level from Rp 3,100 to Rp 7,000. (jsk/emb)