Thu, 23 Nov 2000

SBSI chairman sues police for arrest

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI) chairman Muchtar Pakpahan filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against National Police chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro and East Kalimantan Police chief Insp. Gen. Togar M. Sianipar over the recent arrest of the union's top executive in the province.

In the suit, filed with the South Jakarta District Court, Pakpahan alleges the Nov. 12 arrest of Wuaya Kawilarang, the SBSI coordinator for East Kalimantan, was illegal.

Pakpahan is seeking the immediate release of Kawilarang, Rp 2.5 billion (US$266,000) in compensation to be paid to the union and a public apology from the officers to be printed in all newspapers published in East Kalimantan.

According to Pakpahan, Kawilarang was detained in the provincial capital of Samarinda when a number of SBSI members at oil mining company PT Paiko went on strike to demand access to facilities guaranteed in regulations issued by the Ministry of Manpower.

"It is legal for laborers and employees to go on strike, but the East Kalimantan Police chief prevented them from doing so," Pakpahan said.

Sianipar, a former National Police spokesman, said earlier his office was prepared to face any legal action taken by Kawilarang or his union.

"We had adequate evidence to make the arrest," he said at the time.

Sianipar could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Pakpahan said the police charged Kawilarang with inciting workers to go on strike, and attempting to resist law enforcers. Under Article 160 of the Criminal Code, these charges are punishable by a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

During the strike, Samarinda Police officers fired rubber bullets at the strikers in an attempt to force them back to work, Pakpahan alleged.

After the arrest of Kawilarang, Sianipar made a number of statements in which he threatened to eliminate SBSI entirely from East Kalimantan, saying he viewed the organization as having disrupted peace and order in the province, Pakpahan said.

He also said Sianipar had asserted that SBSI had violated the so-called SARA policy in its recruitment. SARA is the acronym for suku (tribal affiliations), agama (religion), ras (race) and antar golongan (societal groups). The past administration urged the media to avoid these topics in order to prevent unrest.

He alleged that Sianipar's statements triggered East Kalimantan youth organizations such as the Indonesian National Youth Committee, the Youth Renewal Generation of Indonesia and the Pemuda Pancasila youth organization to stage a rally demanding SBSI immediately leave the province. (01)