Human rights in Indonesia

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Actions by the government of Indonesia have been noted as a concern by advocates for human rights. Although the country has had national human rights institutions, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) since 1993, which enjoys a degree of independence from government and holds United Nations accreditation, the commission itself has little effect as it was not given any legal teeth against discriminatory practices committed by the government.

Reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United States Department of State highlighted the most common human rights issues in Indonesia, namely the situation in West Papua, the treatment of religious, gender and sexual minorities, sexual and reproductive rights, the rights of women, children, LGBT, and the disabled, and freedom of expression and association.[1][2][3]

Use of force and impunity[edit]

The Indonesian National Police (Polri) used unnecessary and excessive force against demonstrators and protesters, especially concerning land dispute cases. In the rare instances where investigations took place, little progress was made in bringing perpetrators to justice.

  • In January, six palm oil farmers were seriously injured in Jambi Province after Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers fired rubber bullets at them in an attempt to evict them from a plantation on which they were working. The plantation was the subject of an ongoing land dispute between the farmers and a palm oil company.
  • In June, security forces used unnecessary and excessive force while attempting to evict forcibly a community in Langkat district, North Sumatra. The community had been involved in a land dispute with the local authorities. When the community protested against the eviction, police officers fired on the crowd without warning, injuring at least nine people. Six others were kicked and beaten.[4]

Amnesty International reports that over the last decade, significant steps have been taken to reform the Polri. The government has put in place legislative and structural reforms to strengthen their effectiveness in preventing and detecting crime, maintaining public order and promoting the rule of law. The police have also introduced internal regulations to ensure that international human rights standards are upheld during policing operations. Despite these positive moves, credible reports of human rights violations committed by the police continue to emerge, with the police routinely using unnecessary and excessive force and firearms to quell peaceful protests. Police have been implicated in beatings, shootings and killings of people during mass demonstrations, land disputes or even routine arrests.

Although the authorities have made some attempts to bring alleged perpetrators to justice using internal disciplinary mechanisms, criminal investigations into human rights violations by the police are all too rare, leaving many victims[weasel words] without access to justice and reparations. This situation is made worse by the lack of an independent, effective, and impartial complaints mechanism which can deal with public complaints about police misconduct, including criminal offences involving human rights violations. While existing bodies such as the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) or the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) are able to receive and investigate complaints from the public, they are not empowered to refer these cases directly to the Public Prosecutor's Office or the police internal disciplinary body.[5]

Repeated allegations of torture and otherwise ill-treating detainees by security forces, particularly peaceful political activists in areas with a history of independence movements such as Papua and Maluku, has been reported. Independent investigations into such allegations were rare. There were no investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of 21 peaceful political activists by Special Detachment-88 (Densus-88), a police counter-terrorism unit. The 21 had been tortured during arrest, detention and interrogation in Maluku in August 2010. Caning was increasingly used as a form of judicial punishment in Aceh. At least 72 people were caned for various offences, including drinking alcohol, being alone with someone of the opposite sex who was not a marriage partner or relative (khalwat), and for gambling. The Acehnese authorities passed a series of by-laws governing the implementation of Sharia after the enactment of the province's Special Autonomy Law in 2001.[4]

Discrimination[edit]

Freedom of religion in Indonesia applies only to adherents of six major religious groupings, Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism. Questioning any of those six can lead to five years in prison for "insulting a major religion" and six more years if the Internet is used.[6] Indonesia prohibits blasphemy by its Criminal Code.[7][8] In July 2005, the MUI issued a fatwa that condemned the sect of Ahmadiyya as a heresy. In June 2008, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Home Ministry issued a Joint Ministerial Letter regarding the Ahmadiyya. The letter told authorities to restrict Ahmadiyya activities to private worship and to prevent the Amadhi Muslims from proselytising. Provincial governors in West Sumatra, South Sumatra, and West Nusa Tenggara banned all Ahmadiyya activity.[7] At least 18 Christian churches had been attacked or forced to close down. In many cases,[weasel words] the police failed to protect religious and other minority groups adequately from such attacks.

  • In February, three Ahmadis were killed after a 1,500-person mob attacked them in Cikeusik, Banten Province. On 28 July 12, people were sentenced to between three and six months' imprisonment for their involvement in the incident. No one was charged with murder, and local human rights groups raised concerns about the weak prosecution.
  • The Mayor of Bogor continued to defy a 2010 Supreme Court ruling ordering the authorities to reopen the Taman Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church. The congregation was forced to conduct its weekly services on the pavement outside the closed church, amid protests from radical groups.[4]

In January 2018, the Aceh police ransacked a parlour with support from the Aceh autonomous government. The police tortured all LGBT citizens within the premises of the parlour, shaved the heads of transgender women, stripped their shirts and bras, and paraded them in the street while forcing to shout 'to become men'. It caused massive outrage from human rights organisation throughout the world, from Europe, Australia, the Americas, and to liberal sections of Asia. In February, the government planned to pass legislation that would criminalise gay sex. The legislation is supported by all of the ten political parties of the country and is expected to pass before Valentine's Day.[9]

In November 2018, the Indonesian government released a smartphone app called "Smart Pakem" which allows its users to file a report to the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office anyone suspected of practising officially unrecognised faiths or of having unorthodox interpretations of Indonesia's six officially recognised religions.[10][11]

Capital punishment[edit]

Indonesia's continuation of capital punishment, and the often corrupt judiciary and military has also led to political altercations with several human rights groups.[12]

Domestic workers[edit]

In June, the president expressed support for the new ILO No. 189 Domestic Workers Convention. However, for a second successive year, parliament failed to debate and enact legislation providing legal protection for domestic workers. This left an estimated 2.6 million domestic workers – the vast majority of them women and girls – at continued risk of economic exploitation and physical, psychological and sexual violence.[4]

Sexual and reproductive rights[edit]

Women and girls, especially those from impoverished and marginalised communities, were prevented from fully exercising their sexual and reproductive rights. Many[vague] continued to be denied the reproductive health services provided for in the 2009 Health Law, as the Ministry of Health had yet to issue the necessary implementing regulation. The government failed to challenge discriminatory attitudes and cruel, inhuman and degrading practices, including female genital mutilation and early marriages.

In June, the Minister of Health defended a November 2010 regulation permitting specifically defined forms of "female circumcision" when performed by doctors, nurses and midwives. The regulation legitimised the widespread practice of female genital mutilation. It also violated several Indonesian laws and contradicted government pledges to enhance gender equality and combat discrimination against women.[citation needed]

In 2018, the Indonesian Supreme Court convicted a woman who had recorded a telephone conversation with her boss where he harassed her sexually. She was sentenced to six months in jail.[13]

West Papua[edit]

International human rights organisations have criticised the Indonesian government's handling of protesters from the Free Papua Movement (OPM) in the Papua conflict, in which the OPM seeks the secession of Papua and West Papua.[14][15] High-profile prisoners from this movement include Filep Karma[14] and Buchtar Tabuni,[16] both of whom are considered to be prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International. A report to the Indonesian Human Rights Network by the Allard K Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School alleges human rights violations in the region.[17] The Indonesian military denies allegations of human rights abuses in Papua.[18]

In 2005, President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) carried out a policy change away from "law and order" and towards economic development to arrest separatism in Papua.[19] In May 2010, the release of Papuan political prisoners who had demonstrated for independence was announced.[20] In October, a video emerged apparently showing soldiers kicking and abusing alleged separatists in Papua. The government confirmed that the men were members of the military. The minister for security said their actions were excessive and unprofessional, and that they would be punished.[18][19] Additionally, there are reports of genocide by the Indonesian government. 100,000 Papuans are estimated to have been killed by the Indonesian government since 1963.[21]

Other atrocities include the following:

  • In January, three soldiers who had been filmed kicking and verbally abusing Papuans were sentenced by a military court to between eight and ten months' imprisonment for disobeying orders. A senior Indonesian government official described the abuse as a "minor violation".
  • In April, police in Papua shot Dominokus Auwe in the chest and head, killing him, and wounded two others in front of the Moanemani sub-district police station. The three men had approached the station peacefully to inquire about money the police had seized from Auwe earlier that day.

The government continued to criminalise peaceful political expression in Maluku and Papua. At least 90 political activists were imprisoned for their peaceful political activities.

  • In August, two Papuan political activists, Melkianus Bleskadit and Daniel Yenu, were imprisoned for up to two years for their involvement in a peaceful political protest in Manokwari town in December 2010.
  • In October, over 300 people were arbitrarily arrested after participating in the Third Papuan People's Congress, a peaceful gathering held in Abepura town, Papua Province. Although most were held overnight and released the next day, five were charged with "rebellion" under Article 106 of the Criminal Code. The charge could carry a maximum life sentence. A preliminary investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) found that the security forces had committed a range of human rights violations, including opening fire on participants at the gathering, and beating and kicking them.

Some human rights activists and journalists continued to be intimidated and attacked because of their work.

  • In March 2011, journalist Banjir Ambarita was stabbed by unidentified persons in the province of Papua shortly after he had written about two cases of women who were reportedly raped by police officers in Papua. He survived the attack.[22]
  • In June 2011, military officers beat Yones Douw, a human rights defender in Papua, after he tried to monitor a protest calling for accountability for the possible unlawful killing of Papuan Derek Adii in May[4]

2005 United States Congress bill[edit]

In 2005, the U.S. Congress revised the previous 56-year U.S. policy of silence about human rights abuses in Indonesia, and on 28 July passed the U.S. Congress 2006 Foreign Relations Authorization Bill H.R. 2601 which made specific mention of the ongoing genocide and legitimacy of its sovereignty of West Papua. Section 1115 was specific section referring to Indonesia, and on 30 July 2005, the Jakarta Post reported a warning to the U.S. from President SBY not to interfere in Indonesia's domestic affairs.

Although not mentioned in the U.S. media, Section 1115 had become a leading Indonesian news story through August and September 2005. In the United States, the U.S. Senate had since early 2001 been rejecting repeated efforts by the Bush administration to have U.S. funding of the Indonesian military resumed, a ban which had been reluctantly imposed by the Clinton administration after TNI officers were filmed co-ordinating the Dili Scorched Earth campaign. By writing and passing Section 1115, the U.S. Congress joins the Senate's earlier efforts to reduce, if not disengage, from the U.S. fiscal and political support of the Indonesian military, a change of policy which brings both houses into conflict with the Bush administration and the executives of companies such as Bechtel.

Though Section 1115 states humanitarian and legal reasons for its existence, an additional factor would be security concerns due to ongoing employment of Al-Qaeda related terrorist militia by the Indonesian military and their continued funding programs for the Al Qaeda network. Given that the Senate opposition since 2003 has been strengthening on account of the TNI involvement in the death of Americans at the Timika mining site in 2002, the 2005 decision by Congress may reflect a desire to find more economical methods of crippling the Al Qaeda network.

Following President SBY's denouncement of Section 1115, Indonesian lobby groups such as The U.S. Indonesia Society began renewed efforts to promote an Indonesian image of proper management and renewed non-militant behaviour under the SBY administration. SBY follows the administration of Megawati who in 2001 gave a public speech to the TNI instructing all members that they should disregard the issues of human rights in enforcing Indonesian unity and repressing any independence movements.

Anti-Chinese legislation[edit]

Freedom of expression[edit]

There have been concerns of declining freedom of expression during the first term of the Joko Widodo administration, evidenced by the arrest, detainment, and imprisonment of many people for their social media activity being interpreted as an "insult" to the president.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Indonesia 2017/2018". Amnesty International. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Indonesia". World report 2019. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Indonesia" (PDF). Indonesia 2018 Human Rights Report. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Indonesia". Annual report 2012. Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 28 May 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Excessive force: impunity for police violence in Indonesia". Amnesty International. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  6. ^ Hodal, Kate (3 May 2012). "Indonesia's atheists face battle for religious freedom". the Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom May 2009" (PDF). Indonesia. United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. May 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 May 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
  8. ^ Al ‘Afghani, Mohamad Mova (3 December 2007). "Ruling against blasphemy unconstitutional". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  9. ^ "Indonesia is set to ban gay sex". PinkNews.co.uk. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  10. ^ Reporting blasphemy... using an app
  11. ^ Indonesia’s new ‘heresy app’ draws fire
  12. ^ Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; unpo.org.
  13. ^ Indonesia jails teacher who documented sexual harassment The Guardian, 2018
  14. ^ a b "Filep Karma, Jailed for Raising a Flag". Amnesty International. 2011. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  15. ^ Human Rights Watch (22 June 2010). "Prosecuting Political Aspiration". Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  16. ^ "INDONESIA: PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE AT RISK OF TORTURE: BUCHTAR TABUNI". Amnesty International. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  17. ^ Application of Law of Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control - Yale University Archived 25 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ a b Vaswani, Karishma (22 October 2010). "Indonesia confirms Papua torture". BBC. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  19. ^ a b "President : No need to pressure RI on Papua torture case". ANTARA. 1 November 2010. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  20. ^ "Govt may free political prisoners in Papua". The Jakarta Post. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  21. ^ "News - The University of Sydney". www.USyd.edu.au. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  22. ^ ""Brutal attack against journalist Banjir Ambarita"". International Federation for Human Rights. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  23. ^ https://www.kompasiana.com/ilyani/5c96c1e895760e473150d2e3/10-orang-ini-ditahan-karena-hina-jokowi?page=all

External links[edit]