During a meeting with the Jakarta Public Order Agency head Efendy Anas, representatives of the Indonesian Transgendered People Communications Forum lashed out against violence wreaked against them which they said bordered on a violation of basic human rights.
“We’re holding talks on the arrests and raids against transgendered people that often involve violence,” forum chairperson Yulianus Rettoblaut said.
Yulianus, who is also known as Mamie Yulie, said that the forum received several complaints from transgendered people alleging violence at the hands of public order officers.
Yulianus also questioned the legality of some of the raids directed at transgendered people in the city.
“Many times the officers did not show us proper documents or they were in plainclothes. It was therefore easy for us to doubt the legitimacy of their actions,” he said.
Yulianus said some forum members did frequent the city’s red light districts or were involved in prostitution, which would justify a raid.
Among the red light districts were Taman Lawang in Central Jakarta, Prapanca and Setiabudi in South Jakarta, Jatinegara in East Jakarta and the Coca Cola junction in North Jakarta.
Another forum member, Seruni, not his real name, denied that all trangendered people gathering in red-light areas were prostitutes.
“They were probably just socializing,” he said, adding that some might have gathered in disreputable areas for a good cause.
“Our group often visit those places to campaign for AIDS or safe sex,” he said.
Seruni said he was a victim of violence inflicted by public order officers, alleging that he was injured during a raid earlier this month while campaigning to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.
The forum claimed it presently had more than 4,000 members and more than seven million members across Indonesia.
In meeting with the Public Order Agency, the forum also wanted the city to provide transgendered people with a space where they could socialize with one another and engage in more productive enterprises instead of simply roaming the streets at night, he said.
On the forum’s allegations, Effendi Anas said that public order officers would use less violence when conducting raids.
“We will have more discussions with transgendered groups and experts to arrive at a win-win solution to this problem,” Effendi said.
Efendi, however, said that most of the time the hands of public orders officers were tied and they had to follow orders in violently cracking down on transgendered people.
“Sometimes we have to be tough on them to be taken seriously,” he said.
Several transgendered individuals have died in public order raids.
In 2008, the Central Jakarta Public Order Agency was accused violence that lead to the death of a transvestite in Taman Lawang.
The transvestite died after leaping into Ciliwung River to flee hail of stones thrown by public order
On a separate compound for transgendered people, activist Siti Musdah Mulia told The Jakarta Post that the city administration should not support any policy that would discriminate against citizens based on their gender, sexual orientation or religious preferences, among other things
“I think that the city government’s policy has so far discriminated against transgendered people.
If the city government wants to build a compound for transvestites as a way to deal with prostitution, this would constitutes discrimination, too,” she said.