International NGOs highlight criminalisation of rights activists by public officials

CNN Indonesia – October 9, 2021
Pandjaitan (right) arrives at Metro Jaya police for review of his lawsuit – September 27, 2021 (CNN)

Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says that seven international non-government organisations (NGOs) have highlighted the recent criminalisation by government officials of four human rights activists in Indonesia.

The groups are urging the Indonesian government to protect human rights defenders from threats by government officials.

"Several regional and national non-government organisations in various countries have expressed their support for the situation facing human rights defenders in Indonesia", said Kontras Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti in an official press release seen by CNN Indonesia on Friday October 8.

Two of the four activists are Maulidiyanti herself and human rights activist Haris Azhar. They were reported to police by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan over a statement by Maulidiyanti about his involvement in mining businesses in Papua.

Then there is Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researchers Egi Primayogha and Miftachul Choir who were reported by Presidential Chief of Staff (KSP) Moeldoko. They were reported to the national police headquarters in relation to ICW research which cited Moeldoko has being involved in rent seeking involving the distribution of the Covid-19 drug Ivermectin.

"These two incidents illustrate the decline in civil freedoms, in particular freedom of expression, which has been experienced by human rights defenders in Indonesia", said Maulidiyanti.

According to Maulidiyanti, the seven international organisations are standing in solidarity with human rights activists in Indonesia and feel concerned over the actions of the government officials.

The seven organizations are the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), Frontline Defenders, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO), CIVICUS, the Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP) and Franciscans International.

"They... are concerned about the actions of government officials which illustrate judicial harassment and misuse of power", said Maulidiyanti.

Not only that, said Maulidiyanti, the cases which have befallen the four human rights activists in Indonesia also became the subject of an informal discussion topic at the 48th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday September 17.

The forum discussed a resolution on intimidation against individuals and or organisations that have worked with the UN. One of Kontras' networks, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO), and several other institutions highlighted the cases which have befallen Maulidiyanti and Azhar during the forum.

"Although the discussion was not a formal channel to report cases to the UN Human Rights Council, this intervention sent a message to the Indonesian Embassy in Geneva", she said.

Over the last two months two senior government officials, Pandjaitan and Moeldoko, have reported four activists to police for defamation. Prior to this, both Pandjaitan and Moeldoko had issued a summons to the activists before taking the cases to the police. (iam/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "7 NGO Internasional Prihatin 4 Aktivis Dipolisikan Pejabat RI".]