Veronica Koman questions government response to death, rape threats

CNN Indonesia – August 14, 2020
Lawyer and human rights activist Veronica Koman – Undated (Twitter screenshot)

Jakarta – Papuan human rights activist Veronica Koman is questioning the attitude of the Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) which she says ignored her written report to them about the death and rape threats against her.

Koman said that she attached the death and rape threats against her in letter pleading her case that she sent to the LPDP in response to the LPDP’s warning about revoking her right to her scholarship funds and asking her pay back the scholarship money amounting to 773 million rupiah (US$52,760).

“Why hasn’t the LPDP ever responded to my letter pleading my case dated January 7, 2020? Attached to the letter were some of the many death and rape threats I’ve received, along with a United Nation’s statement requesting that Indonesia stop criminalising me”, wrote Koman on her Twitter account on Friday August 14.

Earlier, the LPDP confirmed that it asked Koman to repay the 773 million rupiah she received for a scholarship to take a master’s degree in Australia in 2016.

The LPDP insisted that the policy applies to all scholarship recipients who fail to fulfill their contractual agreements or obligation to return to Indonesia after completing their studies.

“After becoming a graduate, VKL (Veronica Koman Limau) failed to fulfill her obligation to return and work in Indonesia. With regards to this, the LPDP has pursued a process of issuing a warning then making a claim [for the money to be returned]”, said the LPDP in a release not long ago.

The LPDP says it issued a letter from the executive director on the sanctions in the form of the return of the LPDP scholarship funds amounting to 773.87 million rupiah to Koman on October 24, 2019. The first letter of claim was issued on November 22, 2019.

In the letter detailing the sanctions and claim, the LPDP stated that on February 15, 2020, Koman agreed to an offer to return the scholarship funds by paying in 12 installments. The first installment of 64.5 million rupiah was paid and the money deposited in a state account in April 2020.

“The following installments have yet to be paid as of the final letter of claim issued on July 15, 2020. If VKL fails to fulfill this as of the specified time limit, then the next claim will be handed over to the Finance Ministry’s Directorate General for State Assets Committee for Debt Affairs”, said the LPDP.

Koman suspects that the government’s actions through the LPDP are an attempt to stop her speaking out about and advocating human rights issues in Papua.

In relation to accusations that the LPDP ignored Koman’s letter detailing the death and rape threats, the LPDP has yet to be asked for a response. (ain/ain)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Veronica Koman Ungkit Surat ke LPDP soal Ancaman Pembunuhan”.]