According to the detainees who were interviewed, they are missing school, and they cannot contact their parents. Jakarta, which consistently takes the path of least resistance with homegrown “extremism,” may or may not be motivated to rein in the proliferating abuses in Sharia-ruled Aceh.
Banda Aceh. Amid rows of youths dressed in police uniforms, 15-year-old Arismunadar kept his head bowed and answered in brief snatches when questioned about his treatment at the police camp in Lembah Seulawah, Aceh Besar district.
The high school student from Medan, North Sumatra, is among 64 punk music lovers undergoing “re-education” in the camp, about 60 kilometers from the provincial capital, after they were arrested last Saturday night.
They were taken to the camp after spending three nights in the Banda Aceh Police jail, where they were held after being arrested at a punk music charity concert they had organized with permission from city authorities.
Arismunadar said his parents gave him permission to make the weekend trip north to Banda Aceh but he was upset and worried because he could not contact them.
“I don’t know what my parents” reaction will be when they find out I have been taken here,” he said. “I want to talk to them but I can’t because the police have taken our mobile phones.”
Arismunadar said he was also worried about missing school, for which being taught by police “how to march in line and act politely” was little consolation.
Asked whether he would change his ways after the 10 days of camp detention, Arismunadar said, “I will still be a punk because I like it.”
M. Fauzie, one of the camp’s instructors, said the youths were being taught spiritual, moral and behavioral lessons. “We will teach them to wake up early, how to eat properly and how to behave politely,” he said.
On Friday morning, a Muslim cleric council delegation visited the camp and delivered a religious lecture to the youths, most of them in their twenties. At prayer time, police forced the detainees to don traditional Muslim dress and drove them in trucks to a nearby mosque.
There was little sign of a mass conversion to religious piety after the prayers, however.
They may well teach them to hate prayers, hate religion, hate Muhammad, and hate Allah.
“Punk’s not dead!” shouted Andre, 18, after being forced back onto the truck for the trip back to the police camp.
Andre, from Binjai in neighboring North Sumatra, said he was sick of the “re-education.”
“I’ll still be a punk when they let me go, because it’s my chosen life,” he said, adding that he had lived on the streets since he was young. “They can’t change the path I”ve taken.”
One of the female detainees, 20-year-old Intan Natalia, emphasized the creative spirit of the punk community.
“Punks are not about criminality,” said the Medan native. “Don’t look at us from a negative perspective, because we work, too. We create unique tattoos, T-shirt designs and piercings.”
She said she cried when her long, straight hair was cut in the style of female police officers.
“But what else could I do? If I protested, nobody would listen,” she said. “So I had to take it quietly while my beloved hair was chopped short.”
Intan, who was previously a university student in Jakarta, said she had been a punk since 2009 and enjoyed the feeling of solidarity it engendered. She went to Banda Aceh for the charity concert and said she was shocked when police raided the event.
“While the event was underway, we were suddenly arrested,” she said with a frown. “I don’t know why, because we hadn’t broken any laws.”
Aldi, 17, who makes a living printing T-shirts and stickers, said the “re-education” would not change him.
“After I get out of here I will still be a punk because I like the punk lifestyle,” he said. “I”m not a criminal and stealing is not part of punk ethos. If I was a thief, why would I be a punk?”
Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak), said the detention without charge, the head shaving, the dousing ritual and the military-style treatment of the youths at the hands of the police was a breach of human rights.
“Is there a clause in the criminal code that makes self-expression in the punk style a crime? Then show me! This is too much,” he said.
Speaking in Jakarta on Friday, he said the youths were at risk of lasting trauma.
He also scoffed at a statement by Banda Aceh Deputy Mayor Illiza Sa”aduddin Djamal that punk culture was a social disease that stained Islam’s reputation….