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INDONESIA: Human rights challenges await next president

INDONESIA: Human rights challenges await Indonesia next president

July 23, 2014

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) welcomes the official announcement by the General Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum, KPU) of the result of the Presidential Election on Thursday, 22 July 2014. After counting and recapitulating the votes cast by Indonesians on 9 July 2014 for about three weeks, the Committee finally declared Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla to be the country’s next President and Vice President, respectively. Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla earned 70,997,833 votes in total – around 8 million more than what their rivals, Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa, earned.

Jokowi – the popular name of Joko Widodo – has a better human rights profile than Prabowo, who is the former General of the Indonesian National Special Army (Kopassus). Prabowo has been reported to be responsible for the abduction of activists in 1998, which later led to his dismissal from the Army in the same year. There have also been reports indicating the ex-general’s involvement in the massacres which claimed thousands of lives in East Timor in the early ‘80s. Despite the serious allegations, Prabowo has never been criminally prosecuted and punished.

Whereas it is relieving that the next president of Indonesia is not a figure associated with gross human rights abuse, the AHRC notes that Jokowi’s commitment to human rights is yet to be tested. The upcoming five-year administration will be the real test for the former mayor of Solo and the non-active governor on Jakarta, on whether he will really uphold and respect human rights, as promised in his statement of vision and missions.

Aware of Prabowo’s poor track record in human rights, Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla repeatedly promised in their campaign to find a just settlement for past human rights abuses such as the abduction of activists in 1998, the May 1998 riots, the purge of the “communists” in 1965, as well as the shootings of student activists in the cases of Trisakti-Semanggi 1 and 2.

The AHRC emphasises that the promised “just settlement” should involve criminal investigation of the abuses as well as proportionate criminal punishment of the responsible individuals. It should also involve the provision of full remedy for the victims, including disclosure of the truth to the public. The AHRC calls for such “just settlement” to be applied consistently and without any preference, even in cases that might implicate the figures supporting the candidacy of Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla. Amongst such figures is a retired General Wiranto, who was named by the citizen’s tribunal as the person responsible for the massacre in Biak, West Papua, on 6 July 1998. The retired general has also been reported to be involved in the human rights abuses perpetrated by the military in East Timor, while the province was in the process of gaining independence from Indonesia in 1999.

Also a supporter of Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla presidential election is the former Chief of the State Intelligent Agency (BIN), Hendropriyono. The US diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks in 2011 pointed out Hendropriyono’s involvement in the assassination of a prominent human rights activist Munir, who was poisoned to death in 2004.

Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla promise to put an end to impunity by revising the current Military Tribunal Law. Although welcoming such commitment, the AHRC believes that the anti-impunity message will not be properly realized unless criminal investigation and punishment for individuals responsible for serious human rights abuses take place.

The AHRC looks forward to witnessing the fulfilment of Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla’s promises to abolish discriminatory regulations, to guarantee the enjoyment of freedom of religion, and to take legal steps against the perpetrators of religion-based violence. We are expecting the joint ministerial decree banning the religious activities of the Ahmadi to be one of the first regulations to be abolished, in compliance with the recommendations from various countries during Indonesia’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN in 2012. Enacted in 2008. At the time of its enactment the joint decree had the support of Jusuf Kalla who was then a Vice President. Jusuf Kalla was also a supporter of the 2006 regulation which imposes overly burdensome requirements for the minorities to establish houses of worships.

It is our hope that, in his second administration as Vice President, Jusuf Kalla will be more tolerant and supportive of the religious minorities in Indonesia, in accordance with his promise during the campaign to guarantee every individual’s right to freedom of religion.

An important human rights issue, the abuses in West Papua, appears to have been left out of the campaign of Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla. The AHRC is hoping that the failure of the President-elect to discuss the matter does not reflect his intention to continue Indonesia’s current policy on West Papua, which is mainly the use of militaristic approach to respond to the ongoing conflict in the region. We are calling for the end of this approach, and for the new administration of Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla to prioritise a constructive dialogue with the people of West Papua. The AHRC further demands the upcoming administration of Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla to put an end to the isolation of West Papua, and to give access for international journalists to the region.

The AHRC congratulates Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla on their victory in a democratic presidential election. We will continue scrutinising the human rights situation in Indonesia under their leadership, and will not stop insisting that they address the human rights challenges that remain to be resolved.

ENDS

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