The Indonesia Police Watch (IPW) accused the National Police of using brute force, including by hiring local thugs to harass protesters, mostly students, in street protests against fuel-price increases in East Kalimantan and South Sulawesi.
"We found indications that police paid thugs to disperse protests organised by university students," IPW chair Neta Pane said on Sunday.
In Makassar, South Sulawesi, for example, police did not react when a gang attacked protesting students during a rally on June 17.
"The role of thugs in dealing with student protests could cause communal conflicts, considering that they often provoke locals to assault the students. The IPW calls on the National Police chief to ban all regional police from hiring thugs," Neta said.
The IPW recorded that 229 students have been arrested during fuel protests in 62 cities and regencies. Also, 118 students were injured during the protests, with some of them sustaining rubber-bullet injuries. The protests also left three journalists and nine police officers injured.