Reza Deni, Jakarta – Protesters from an alliance of rights groups held a rally in front of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) offices during a commemoration of the 70th International Human Rights Day on Tuesday December 11.
The activists came from a number of groups including the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), Amnesty International Indonesia and the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), as well as families of victims of human rights violations.
Although President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was invited to the event he did not attend and was replaced by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who was accompanied by Presidential Chief of Staff retired General Moeldoko.
After the event was over the protesters continued to rally in front of the front gates. Kalla waved to the demonstrators as he left but did not give greetings or make any remarks whatsoever.
A scuffle broke out between protesters and security personnel when Kalla and his entourage tried to leave. Security personnel reinforced a security blockade and the shouts of protest by demonstrators could be heard.
“Really over the top yeah, the police are paid for by the ordinary people don’t you know?”, shouted one of the protesters.
A speaker representing LBH Jakarta, Pratiwi Febry, slammed the repressive actions by security personnel against those protesting that afternoon. “When security personnel act repressively, it means a provocation”, said Febry.
Security personnel did not respond to the curses from the demonstrators and it was at this time that the security blockade was loosened to allow Kalla and his entourage to leave. “Protection there, you lot protect tuan [Kalla]”, they said.
Febry asserted that security personnel committed a human rights violation right in front of the Komnas HAM office. “Repressive actions clearly took place right in front of our eyes”, said Febry.
As has been reported, Komnas HAM held a series of events commemorating International Human Rights Day on December 11 at its offices in Jakarta. Aside from Kalla and Moeldoko, the event was attended by several religious and public figures. Neither Kalla nor Moeldoko made a statement in response to the protest.
And when the protesters found out that Widodo was not going to attend, there was much disappointment and many questions. There were outbursts of anger and jokes by the participants such as “Widodo is afraid of being protested” and the like.
The protesters had initially hoped that Widodo would attend the event and meet with protesters.
“And we also hoped the meeting would not just be turned into an image building exercise in the lead up to the 2019 pilpres [presidential election], but would be used as an opportunity to discuss strategic and concrete measures to resolve cases of past gross human rights violations and other human rights abuses in Indonesia”, said Kontras deputy coordinator Putri Kanesia.
Shortly after Kalla left, at around 3pm the protesters in front of the Komnas HAM offices disbanded.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Jusuf Kalla Tinggalkan Kantor Komnas HAM, Aparat dan Massa Aksi Sempat Bentrok”.]