Yogyakarta activists, women workers commemorate Human Rights Day

Detik/Tempo Interactive – December 10, 2008
Activists commemorate Human Rights Day in Yogyakarta (Antara)
Activists commemorate Human Rights Day in Yogyakarta (Antara)

Yogyakarta – Hundreds of students and non-government organisation activists in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta took to the streets on December 10 to commemorate Human Rights Day. They also demanded that the government revoke a joint ministerial decree (SKB-4) limiting wage rises to economic growth and end to the exploitation of women workers.

Despite drizzling rain throughout most of the day, actions were held at a number of locations and shopping centres in different parts of the city. The first action was carried out by scores of women activists from the We Can Campaign Indonesia alliance at the Serangan Oemoem (SO) March 1 Plaza Monument. The second action was held by the United People’s Committee (KRB) at the Yogyakarta Monument.

During the action at the Plaza Monument, which was joined by women workers, some of which brought children and infants, they unfurled banners with messages such as “Stop violence against women”, “Oppose the exploitation of workers”, “Fight for women’s rights”, “Oppose and revoke the SKB-4” and “Nationalise foreign assets”. The protesters also sung patriotic songs such as “For You My Nation”, “Mother Kartini” and “Struggle of Blood”.

In a speech, KRB action coordinator Muhammad Iron warned the people not to be enticed by the sweet promises of the political elite in the lead up to the 2009 legislative and presidential elections, saying that they are competing with each other making promises about bringing prosperity to the people yet they have never done this in the past.

“Remember that there is no evidence to back these promises. All those participating in the 2009 elections are imperialist lackeys. The 2009 elections are an election of human rights violators such as [former Kopassus commander] Prabowo in the Gerindra Party and [former armed forces chief] Wiranto in the Hanura Party along with the other fake reformist parties”, said Iron. (Detik.com, 10/12/2008)

Activists in Semarang say many human rights cases left unresolved

Semarang – Human Rights Day was also commemorated in the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang, where scores of activists and victims of human rights violations protested at the East Java regional police headquarters and the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) on December 10.

The action stared at the Fountain Roundabout on Jl. Pahlawan then moved off to the regional police headquarters some 500 metres away. During the march, police could be seen directing traffic which had became congested with protesters taking up half of the road. At the police headquarters, demonstrators from non-government organisations and students took turns in giving speeches.

Following this, scores of human rights victims joined the action, hitting and trampling on a straw figure as a symbol of their anger at the handing of human rights cases that are often left unresolved. “Come on hit it! Trample on it! Can’t you do better than that”, shouted one of the protesters provocatively.

Satisfied with destroying the straw figure, the protesters moved off to the Central Java DPRD some 500 metres away from the police headquarters. They plan to end the action by returning to the Fountain Roundabout at around 11.30am. (Detik.com, 10/12/2008)

Protesters in Medan give government ‘red report card’ on human rights

Medan – The upholding of human rights in Indonesia is still week. This has been proven by the widespread cases of violence by state institutions against civil society.

This ‘red report card’ on human rights was emphasised by around 1,000 demonstrators who commemorated World Human Rights Day at the North Sumatra DPRD in Medan on December 10. The majority of the protesters, who came from the North Sumatra Civil Society Alliance (AMSSU), said they were victims of human rights abuses, mostly involving land disputes.

During a speech, action coordinator Minggu Saragih said that the government has failed to fully implement the Universal Human Rights Declaration which has also been signed by Indonesia. Farmers are seen as easy victims of human rights violations in North Sumatra by state institutions and the government therefore, must immediately implement the 1960 Agrarian Law on land reform.

“Land problems are mushrooming in North Sumatra. People are being evicted from their land everywhere. Not a few of these people have suffered violence, both physical as well as mental. In upholding human rights, the government’s report card is still red”, said Saragih.

The AMSSU also urged the government to revoke the joint ministerial decree, implement the People’s Consultative Assembly Decree Number 11/1998 and to take responsibility for ensuring a reasonable standard of living for the poor. (Detik.com, 10/12/2008)

Farmers in Malang demand resolution to land dispute with marines

Malang – Thousands of farmers from the sub-districts of Pagak, Bantur and Gedangan demonstrated at the regent’s office in the East Java city of Malang on December 10.

According to action coordinator Hadili, the protest was held both to commemorate World Human Rights Day as well as to demand that the central government intervene to resolve a dispute over land in Purboyo that has been used as a Marine Combat Training Centre for the last 30 or so years.

“The Combat Training Centre can continue to exist, but we are asking for public and social facilities to be constructed. We [want] to be allowed to rebuild homes that have been partly destroyed by members of the marines. Please also provide electricity”, said Hadili, adding that they had been struggling over this issue for the last eight years.

The protest action at the regent’s office only continued for around 15 minutes, after which the demonstrators moved off to the Gajayana train station to join up with protesting workers and students. (Tempo Interactive, 10/12/2008)

[Abridged translation by James Balowski.]