Jakarta – Hundreds of people from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) and other regional based groups held a protest action next to the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Tuesday December 11.
They were demanding that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo fulfill his commitment to deal with cases of alleged human rights violations, particularly those which have befallen community and environmental activists.
“The current situation is a human rights emergency. According to our records there have been 723 cases of criminalisation which have befallen communities fighting for their livelihoods”, said Walhi campaign manager Wahyu Perdana when speaking with CNN Indonesia.
Aside from communities, a number of expert environmental witnesses are also facing the threat of indictment. Yet, said Perdana, according to the law parties fighting environmental problems cannot be prosecuted.
Perdana cited a number of human rights cases which have befallen communities and environmental activists including, among others, the case of Pari Island fisherpeople fighting the company PT Bumi Pari Asri, the Coal-fired Power Plant (PLTU) construction project in Indramayu and the case of Heri Budiawan alias Budi Pego who was fighting the company PT Merdeka Copper Gold.
Budi Pego is an environmental activist who was opposing gold mining activities in Banyuwangi, East Java, which ended with him being reported to police and subsequently jailed for spreading communist ideas.
Perdana regrets that these human rights problems have received no attention at all from Widodo. “What we deplore is that there has not been a single statement by the head of state in relation to this”, he said.
Walhi is urging Widodo to immediately ensure a resolution to human rights cases linked to agrarian conflicts and is calling on the Supreme Court to act fairly in handing down verdicts related to the environment.
“We are also urging the government to stop the involvement of the security forces and repressive actions which are accompanied by the practice of criminalisation in agrarian conflicts”, he said.
At 1.30pm today, Widodo is scheduled to attend a commemoration of International Human Rights Day 2918 at the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) building in Central Jakarta. As of this article being posted, there has been no confirmation on Widodo’s attendance. (psp/wis)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Walhi Demo Jokowi soal Kriminalisasi Pejuang Lingkungan”.]