The fatal shooting of four Indonesians by the Malaysian police in Perak last Friday has triggered an outcry from the neighbouring country, reports several Indonesian news portals.
According to the Jakarta Post online, the deceased were allegedly members of the Batu Hitam (black clothes) gang specialising in the burglary of luxury homes in Penang.
Police had intercepted them around 3am while they were driving around the Taman Meru housing complex.
“After being chased by the police, the car stopped after hitting a cliff. The four passengers came out and opened fire on the cops,” the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia was quoted as saying.
The police confiscated at the scene two firearms, three machetes, three laptops, three digital cameras, five cell phones, two wrist watches, a fake car plate and sums of cash in Japanese yen, rupiah and Malaysian ringgit, the site reports.
Anis Hidayah, the director of Indonesian NGO Migrant Care, has slammed the shootout as a violation of human rights and international standards.
“[Regardless of] whatever documents they had – or didn’t have – the incident which caused their death was a human rights violation,” Anis was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post.
“International standards clearly stipulate that the police are not allowed to shoot anyone dead, not even a criminal,” she said.
Anis also flayed the Malaysian government for stating that the victims were illegal workers, saying: “[Their status] does not justify the shootings.”
‘Systemic act of terror’
Meanwhile, news portal Kompas.com reports that Mahfudz Siddiq, the chairman of Indonesia’s House of Representatives Commission I, has suggested the shootings were a “systemic act of terror” by Malaysia.
“The shootings of five people is no light matter. If we’re talking about the shootings of five people, then it appears that it was done on purpose and systemically.
“Five people were shot, isn’t that odd?” he was quoted as saying in Parliament yesterday.
(Several news reports mention that five Indonesians were gunned down, although the official number is four, as confirmed by Indonesia’s Home Minister and the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.)
Mahfudz said that cases of Indonesian citizens killed in Malaysia due to police shootouts were frequent and none had ever been solved.
“Indonesia must take firm action against this,” he stressed.
Indonesian Human Rights Commission member Johnny N Simanjuntak has also called on the country’s leaders to verify Malaysia’s assertion that the four who were killed had been robbers.
According to Kompas.com, Johnny said the Malaysian police would always claim that any Indonesian citizen they shot dead were robbers – a claim that he said had never been proven.
“Last June, three Indonesian citizens accused of robbery were gunned down in Kuala Lumpur. Even until now, it has never been explained whether they were truly robbers or not,” he was quoted as saying today.
‘No criminal records’
Riau Islands police chief Brig-Gen Yotje Mende confirmed that the Indonesians involved in the shootout last Friday have no criminal records in their reported hometown of Batam, Riaus Islands, according to The Jakarta Post.
“Many have asked us, but we don’t have such records of them,” he was quoted as saying.
But citing an unnamed Indonesian official, the news portal states that the four were illegal workers with criminal records in Malaysia.
Devi, the wife of one of the deceased, has also admitted to The Jakarta Post that her husband did not have a proper working visa.
She said he had been working on a oil palm plantation in Malaysia since 2006.
“He returned home once every two weeks. I know nothing about his life there but I don’t believe he was a robber,” she was quoted as saying.
Friday’s shootout is the latest in a series of police shootings of migrant workers in Malaysia in several months.
Last month, Bernama reported that the police shot dead three machete-wielding Indonesian robbers during a botched break-in at a house in Jesselton housing park, Pulau Tikus, Penang.
In June, another three migrant workers were gunned down by police, according to Indonesian news portal Jakarta Globe.
Meanwhile, in March, three migrant workers from West Nusa Tenggara were fatally shot at Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan.