Government still lacks in protection of rights activists

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http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/10/25/government-still-lacks-protection-rights-activists.html

 Government still lacks in protection of rights activists

Jakarta | Tue, October 25 2016 | 08:40 am

 

Rights activists have urged the government to increase the protection of rights defenders amid mounting violence against them.

Activists of the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi), Protection International (PI) and Arus Pelangi said their fellow activists across the country had experienced various abuses when fighting for people’s rights.

“Activists are always abused because they are at the forefront of human rights conflicts, so the opposing side always wants to shut them down,” PI activist Cahyadi told The Jakarta Post, adding the government should protect activists.

However, according to a survey from the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the UK-based University of York, the government is the most common violator against human rights activists. The survey stated that the “government” included the police, the military and regional government officers.

Companies, particularly those related to environment and labor rights issues, come second, while fundamental religious organizations rank third, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted earlier this year on 87 human rights activists of various issues like the environment, LGBTs, women’s rights and religious freedom. The activists originated from Jakarta, Surabaya, Ambon, Aceh, Palu and Manokwari.

The survey also found that activists received various types of abuse, most commonly threats through phone calls and text messages. They also experienced assault, became subject to investigations and criminal charges and faced defamation in the media. As many as 90 percent of the respondents said they were worried about their safety.

Protection of activists is recognized in the United Nation’s 1998 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The protection of privacy rights also appears in several laws, including Article 32 of Law No. 39/1999 on human rights.

The laws recognize the legitimacy of human rights activities and that those who carry it out have to be protected.

Many expected President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to suppress violence in his two years of rule, but activists recently said that he had failed to do so, highlighting the growing violence that the President had been unable to manage.

Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said human rights could not be enforced in Indonesia if Jokowi still gave strategic positions to people who had been involved in human rights violations.

“The violations against human rights increased in Jokowi’s era,” he said earlier this year as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Haris said that Kontras recorded at least 300 human rights violations in 2015, higher than the previous year, or when former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was still in office.

Walhi activist Khalisah Khalid cited two human rights defenders, Salim Kancil and Yanes Balubun, who were allegedly assassinated in the past year.

In September last year, Salim was beaten to death by a group of people in Selok Awar-Awar subdistrict, Pasirian district, East Java. Salim had co-arranged a protest against invasive sand-mining in his village, which was conducted by companies.

Meanwhile, Yanes was a coordinator for the Ambon-based environmental group Humanum and the Indigenous Peoples Alliance. He passed away in April after a vehicle accident, but fellow activists argued that Yanes’ death was premeditated by parties that opposed his stance in Maluku. (adt)

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Anticipation Builds as Pacific CSOs Await Indonesia Response

Anticipation Builds as Pacific CSOs Await Indonesia Response

Saturday, 15 October 2016, 9:45 pm
Press Release: PIANGO

Anticipation Builds as Pacific CSOs Await Indonesia Response to UN

Date: 14 October 2016
Suva – The request made by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to Indonesia to formally respond to allegations of racial violence and discrimination against Papuans by November is a sign that the attitude of the UN to West Papua’s case is beginning to change.

Pacific Islands Association of NGOs executive director, Emele Duituturaga expressed these sentiments following UN CERD chair, Anastasia Crickley’s notification to Indonesia’s UN Permanent Representative, Triyono Wibowo that the committee’s recent session had considered allegations of killings and violence of indigenous Papuans in West Papua.

“I write to inform you that in the course of its 90th session, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered, under its early warning and urgent action procedure, allegations of excessive use of force, arrests, killings and torture of persons belonging to the Papuan indigenous people in West Papua, Indonesia, and allegations of discrimination against this people, that have been brought to its attention by a non-governmental organization,” Ms Crickley stated in the October 3rd dated correspondence.

“Reportedly, between April 2013 and December 2014, security forces killed 22 persons during demonstrations and a number of persons have also been killed or injured since January 2016. It is alleged that, in May 2014, more than 470 persons belonging to the Papuan indigenous people were arrested in cities of West Papua during demonstrations against extraction and plantation activities.”

The letter stated, “… Such arrests have reportedly increased since the beginning of 2016 amounting to 4000 between April and June 2016 and have included human rights activists and journalists. Such acts have reportedly never been investigated and those responsible have gone unpunished.”

“The submission claims that repression of persons belonging to the Papuan indigenous people is the result of a misinterpretation and lack of a correct implementation of the Special Autonomy Law by local and national authorities of Indonesia. The submission also claims that actions by security forces constitute violations of the rights of freedom of assembly and association.”

Duituturaga said the committee’s specific requests for information indicates how seriously it is treating the allegations made by civil societies to the UN about the treatment of indigenous West Papuans by the Indonesian government.

“CERD has given Indonesia until 14 November to provide information on its response to the allegations, the status of implementation of the Special Autonomy Law in West Papua, measures taken to ensure the effective protection of indigenous people in West Papua from arbitrary arrests and detentions as well as deprivation of life,” she said.

Indonesia has also been requested to report on measures taken to ensure that indigenous people from West Papua effectively enjoy their rights to freedom of assembly and association including persons with dissenting opinions, measures taken to investigate allegations of excessive use of force by security forces including killings and steps taken to improve access to education of Papuan children in West Papua in particular those living in very remote areas by the UN CERD.

“Indonesia is not only the third largest democracy in the world, they are an emerging economic powerhouse but their inability to apply democratic principles in West Papua threatens their credibility with the international community.”

“The ball is in their court now and Pacific civil societies are eagerly awaitingNovember 14 alongside UN CERD to read their response,” Duituturaga said.
ENDS