Security chief’s garbage remark exposes pretense of Widodo’s blusukan: YLBHI

CNN Indonesia – February 13, 2020
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation Chairperson Asfinawati – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Chairperson Asfinawati has criticised a statement by Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD who said that data on political prisoners and people killed in Nduga, Papua, was “rubbish”.

For Asfinawati, Mahfud’s statement does not reflect well on a public servant who should act in the interests of the ordinary people.

“How can data on people who have died be treated like that, as rubbish, meaning it will be thrown away”, she said.

Aside from this, continued Asfinawati, Mahfud’s statement can also be interpreted as meaning that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s signature blusukan or spontaneous neighborhood walkabouts are nothing more than image building.

“Mahfud’s [statement] was also an interpretation of Jokowi’s actions that as president he won’t read it. Yet when Jokowi wanted to become president [in 2014] he was always doing <blusukan. Meaning if Mahfud’s statement is true, he has exposed the president’s pretense if the blusukan which he means is listening to ordinary people’s complaints then it’s just image building”, she said.

Earlier, human rights lawyer and Papua activist Veronica Koman said that they had handed over documents containing the names and locations of dozens of Papuan political prisoners and the identities of 243 people killed during military operations in Nduga to Widodo during his visit to Canberra, Australia.

Widodo conducted a working visit to Australia between Friday February 7 and Monday February 10. Mahfud later said that it was not certain that documents given to Widodo had been read.

“Perhaps the documents haven’t been opened yet, they were from many people right. Ordinary people also like to send things to the president. But if it does indeed exists, it’s just rubbish”, said Mahfud at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java, on Tuesday February 11.

“What I know is that there were a lot of letters and documents like that. People jostled to shake hands, it was amazing, then give him folders, envelopes, documents. Yes perhaps it’s true it was given to him but it would be treated just like the other document”, he said.

Special Presidential Staff member for legal affairs, Dini Shanti Purwono has even denied that Widodo received the documents.

Selfie with Widodo

Koman believes that Mahfud’s statement indicates how bad the human rights (HAM) situation has become under Widodo’s presidency.

“Never mind obtaining justice, they won’t even admit there has been a single violation. This statement indicates the increasingly bleak human rights situation under [Widodo]”, said Koman when contacted by CNN Indonesia through an SMS message on Wednesday February 12.

Nevertheless, Koman admitted that she was not surprised by Mahfud’s statement given his track record.

“Remember that before he once issued a statement which hurt the ordinary people’s feelings, namely that there has not been one HAM violation during the Jokowi era”, she said.

According to Koman, the documents were personally given to Widodo when he visited Canberra. Moreover, she said, Widodo even took a selfie with the person who gave them to him only moments after the two met.

“The person who handed them over even managed to have a selfie with Pak [Mr] Jokowi, in fact it was Pak Jokowi who held the mobile phone. Only, right, we didn’t want to focus on the issue of gimmicks, we wanted to focus on the substance, namely the data on the victims”, said Koman.

She also claimed that the data on Papua political prisoners is valid and originated from information compiled by human rights advocates and activists handling cases in Papua.

Meanwhile the information on the deaths in Nduga represents data were compiled by a coalition of civil society volunteers who have been helping refugees fleeing the conflict, including documenting those who have died.

“We summarized it to make it short for Pak [Mr] Jokowi to read because he’s a busy person. The original report was long because it not only contained names and ages, but also the dates and cause of death along with photographs”, said Koman. (tst/arh)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “YLBHI soal Data Papua: Mahfud Buka Kedok Blusukan Jokowi”.]