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 he 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.”