Activists call for end to state sponsored intimidation of government critics

CNN Indonesia – April 27, 2020
Kamisan (Thursday) action in front of State Place in Central Jakarta – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – The Civil Society Coalition from the Indonesian People’s Faction (FRI) is asking the government to evaluate the performance of the police during the corona virus (Covid-19) epidemic. According to the FRI, a number of activists have been intimidated and terrorised.

“[We’re] asking the government to immediately evaluate the police and parties which should maintain public security”, said the FRI in a press release on Sunday April 26.

CNN Indonesia has contacted the National Police Headquarters Public Information Bureau Chief Brigadier General Argo Yuwono in relation to the Civil Society Coalition’s statement, but have yet to receive a response.

The FRI is asking that there be an end to terror and intimidation directed against members of the public during the corona virus pandemic. The FRI is also demanding that the state be responsible for safeguarding democracy and human rights.

“[We’re] asking the DPR [House of Representatives] to more thoroughly carry out its function of government oversight”, said the FRI.

These requests were submitted by the FRI because it has identified several patterns being used to silence critics since February – both those who have been critical of the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation as well criticism of measures taken by the government to deal with the corona virus.

The pattern referred to by the group includes, among other things, intimidation, hacking accounts and devices, criminalisation and surveillance, all of which, according to the FRI, are being experienced by activists.

Supporters of the Omnibus Law intimidated the Indonesian Trade Union Alliance Congress (KASBI) which opposes the law. This took place when a group of people set fire to tyres in front of the KASBI office in Jakarta.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta suffered a similar experience when they were visited by police officers and members of the TNI (Indonesian military).

Then, the pattern of hacking devices. The FRI said that Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) Coordinator Merah Johansyah was one such victim. Our Village Network Coordinator R Sumakto along with several other people have also had their devices hacked.

According to the FRI three members of the Kamisan (Thursday) Action committee in the East Java city of Malang were criminalised. Three other youths in the Jakarta satellite city of Tangerang who are active in the education and solidarity movement were also criminalised.

Meanwhile activists from the Medan Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) in North Sumatra found themselves under surveillance on four occasions, and the group Yogyakarta Food Solidarity came under surveillance twice. The surveillance is alleged to have been carried out by the police and other parties.

“All of these incidents have a similarity, namely they has never been any legal proceedings against the perpetrators”, said the FRI.

The FRI is made up of a number of organisations including KASBI, Jatam, LBH Jakarta, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI), the National Labour Movement Centre (SGBN), the Media and Creative Industries Trade Union for Democracy (Sindikasi), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Walhi, Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), the environmental group Auriga Nusantara, the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), the Bogor-based agrarian study center Sajogyo Institute, the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (Elsam), the Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance (AMAN), the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and several other different groups. (fey/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Koalisi Sipil Minta Aparat Setop Intimidasi Rakyat”.]