Activists gathered last week to protest against the nomination of Budi Gunawan as National Police chief. A long-time target of antigraft activists, he has since been named as a suspect by the KPK.  (Antara Photo/Fanny Octavianus)

Activist Shooting Renews Calls for NGO Protection Law

BY :NANDA ARIES

JANUARY 21, 2015

Bangkalan, East Java. Activists have called for a draft regulation to protect nongovernmental organization workers after an activist in Bangkalan, East Java was ambushed and shot in front of his home on Tuesday.

Mathur Husairi, 47, the director of a local group named Islamic Center for Democracy is now in critical condition at the Soetomo Public Hospital in Surabaya after he was ambushed by two unidentified gunmen  at 2 a.m. on Tuesday.

He was shot in the hip and the bullet lodged in his stomach.

East Java Police spokesman, Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono said Mathur was returning from his office.

The gunmen, the officer said, were waiting for Mathur to come home. After he stepped out of his car to open the gate to his garage, a motorcyclist appeared and shots were fired.

Mathur tried to go after his assailants but collapsed after a few meters from the massive lost of blood.

The activist was then rushed to a local hospital but, due to the severity of his injuries, was transferred to Surabaya.

“We have managed to obtain the projectile. We will examine it at the Surabaya forensics lab to determine the type of gun and bullet used,” Awi said.

The police spokesman said an investigation into the shooting has been launched by the Bangkalan District Police and several officers from the Provincial

Police’s violent crimes unit have been deployed to provide technical assistance.

Dr. Urip Murtedjo said Mathur’s condition is stabilizing following an operation to retrieve the bullet.

Mathur is known as a fierce critic of the Bangkalan district government, fellow activist Tamsul said, particularly against district head Fuad Amin Imron.

Tamsul said Mathur had been criticizing Fuad ever since he became speaker of the Bangkalan Regional Council, accusing him of being involved in several graft cases.

Mathur, Tamsul continued, has been receiving threats because of his work, particularly after Fuad was arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

“Mathur has helped unravel many corruption allegations involving Fuad Amin Imron and his family,” Tamsul said.

Andi Irfan of the human rights group, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said the case serves as an example of how law enforcers provide very little protection for activists.

“We have once called for a regulation from the government which offers activists protection but the government seems to think that this [law] was not important,” Andi said.

Petition

A 2010 petition from several NGOs called on the government to enact a law that would provide protection for activists and penalize those threatening or intimidating them and those interfering their work.

The petition was created after Indonesia Corruption Watch activist Tama Satrya Langkun was severely beaten by unknown assailants following his investigation into the suspiciously large bank accounts of several police generals, including Budi Gunawan — who was recently named a police chief candidate.

Budi is now under investigation by the KPK.

Kontras noted that this is not the first time an activist in Bengkalan was attacked.

Last month, three activists from the Madura Corruption Watch were severely beaten by an assailant who still remains unidentified.

“There is not a single assault or murder case against activists that has been uncovered so far and the perpetrators brought to justice,” Kontras chairman Haris Azhar said.

“Instead it is often activists who are penalized for doing their work, silenced through the use of criminal defamation.”

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