International Human Rights Day rally in Yogya calls on government to resolve human rights cases

Tribune Yogya – December 10, 2017
Students commemorate Human Rights Day in Yogya - December 10, 2017 (Tribune)
Students commemorate Human Rights Day in Yogya - December 10, 2017 (Tribune)

Ahmad Syarifudin, Yogya – Hundreds of students held a protest action at the Pal Putih Monument in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on the afternoon of Sunday December 10 to commemorate International Human Rights Day.

The students voiced their concerns over the problem of human rights cases in Indonesia which they said are far from being resolved. They could be seen forming a line around the monument while they held up banners with demands on the government.

They also took turn giving speeches articulating the uncertainty of government policies on handling human rights cases. They questioned the active role of the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Vice President Yusuf Kalla in addressing past cases of human rights violations.

Action coordinator Muslim Hidayat said that the action marking International Human Rights Day was held by the students so that those in power would reflect on the human rights cases that have taken place in Indonesia.

According to Muslim, there are still many human rights cases that have yet to be clarified an even seem to have been made to disappear.

“We here are demanding that those in power immediately take firm action to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights [violations]”, said Muslim during a break in the action on Sunday.

Muslim explained that many fighters and defenders of justice in Indonesia have in fact lost their lives in ways that are inhuman. This, said Muslim, is sign of the government’s fear so in the end they are forcibly disappeared by villainous rouges.

“We here still remember how Munir was assassinated, Marsinah was abducted and Udin lost his life. To this day these cases have yet to be resolved”, said Muslim.

Because of this Muslim and his other student colleagues want to refresh the public’s memory about human rights cases in Indonesia that have yet to be resolved.

Particularly so in relations with the momentum of International Human Rights day which falls on December 10 this year, “We are urging the government to immediately investigate these cases”, Muslim added.

The action was also joined by students from the Student Association from the Yogyakarta State University (UNY) citizenship education department. Protesters also came from the UNY education faculty and the Yogyakarta Polytechnic.

“There are around 400 students [at the protest]”, said Muslim, who added that the activities on International Human Rights Day will not just restricted to commemorations and demonstrations.

The students will also hold social services and seminars related to cases of human rights violations. “Like being instantly educated, we will also hold seminars so that we have a whole picture of human rights violations in Indonesia”, he asserted.(*)


On September 7, 2004 renowned human rights defender Munir Said Thalib died of arsenic poisoning onboard a Garuda Indonesia flight. Although off-duty pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto was convicted of the murder in 2005 the alleged mastermind behind the assassination, former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy Muchdi Purwopranjono, was acquitted of all charges.

Marsinah was a women activist who was murdered on May 8, 1993 after leading a strike at a watch factory in Surabaya, East Java. She has since become a symbol and hero of the Indonesian labour struggle.

Fuad Muhammad “Udin” Syafruddin was a journalist with the Yogyakarta based newspaper Bernas who died in August 16, 1996 after being severely beaten in his home by unknown intruders. At the time he was investigating a corruption case involving Bantul Regent Sri Rosa Sudarmo who was implicated in the murder but never questioned by police.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Peringati Hari HAM Sedunia, Ratusan Mahasiswa Gelar Aksi di Tugu Pal Putih Yogyakarta.]