Kontras highlights massive scale of attacks on rights defenders over last two years

Kompas.com – October 19, 2021
Rally in front of State Palace against criminalisation of environmental activists – Undated (CNN)

Rahel Narda Chaterine, Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has highlighted the massive scale of the attacks and criminalisation of human rights defenders during the last two years of the President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin's administration.

Kontras Deputy Coordinator Rivanlee Anandar revealed that they found 66 cases of violence against human rights defenders in the environmental sector over the last two years.

"During the two years of the Jokowi Ma'ruf government, we found 66 cases of violence against defenders in the environmental sector, and this occurred in almost all parts of Indonesia", said Anandar during a virtual press conference on Tuesday October 19.

Anandar said that the patterns of violence took the form of criminalisation, arbitrary arrest, abuse, intimidation, land occupations, clashes, terrorist shootings and forced disbursement of protesters.

According to Anandar, over the last two years much of this violence has occurred in concert with President Widodo's plans to promote massive investment in the regions to create 10 new Balis, special economic zones and moving the capital city to Kalimantan.

"This has in fact brought with it a threat to human rights defenders who want to save their environments, who want to articulate their views, who want to protect their ancestral lands, who want to take care of the next generation of grandchildren", he said.

Furthermore, Kontras found that in concert with the increase in investment and these mega projects, the private sector was often the party which threatened the existence of human rights defenders.

He continued saying that they found several private companies who do not respect human rights.

"The cases which occurred usually took the form of land theft, not involving the public in the policy making process, and the minimal participation and alleged maladministration which occurred in other administrative processes", he said.

In addition to this, Anandar believes that the Job Creation Law and the Law on Mineral and Coal Mining have become a threat to communities in the regions.

According to Anandar, a number of articles in these laws tend to prevent people from expressing their views or taking action as well as emphasising that people should just trust in the contents of document that they are given.

"So the threat aside from mega projects which are passive is also at the policy stage", said Anandar.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Temuan Kontras: 66 Kasus Kekerasan pada Pembela HAM Sektor Lingkungan di Tahun Ke-2 Jokowi-Ma'ruf".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2021/10/19/17123001/temuan-kontras-66-kasus-kekerasan-pada-pembela-ham-sektor-lingkungan-di