2021 sees rise in attacks against human rights defenders: Amnesty

Suara.com – December 13, 2021
Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid – Undated (Facebook)

Bangun Santoso, Yosea Arga Pramudita – Amnesty International Indonesia has released its 2021 End of Year Report which covers human rights violations that have occurred in Indonesia over the last year. According to the report, human rights defends are one of the groups which are most at risk.

Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Hamid says that there were 95 cases of attacks against human rights defenders in Indonesia in 2021 with a total of 297 victims. These cases targeted human rights defenders from a variety of sectors including journalists, activists, traditional communities and university students.

Out of the 95 cases recorded by Amnesty, 55 of these allegedly involved state actors such as the TNI (Indonesian military), Polri (Indonesian police) and government officials.

"Worse of all, in 55 out of 95 of these cases it is suspected that there was the involvement of state actors, including the police and the TNI, as well as central and regional government officials", said Hamid during a discussion on the Amnesty International YouTube channel on Monday December 13.

Hamid said that the trend of violence against human rights defenders in 2021 was not very different from that seen last year. Sixty out of 93 cases of attacks against human rights defenders, he said, were allegedly carried out by state actors [in 2020].

Hamid noted that the form of these attacks varied, ranging from reporting people to the police, threats and intimidation, physical violence and murder.

An example of this was on September 27 when a person from the Toruakat traditional community in Bolaang Mongondow regency, North Sulawesi, was shot dead by a guard at an illegal gold mine near Toruakat traditional lands.

The most recent case targeted Veronica Koman. The family home of the lawyer and human rights activist was attacked by unknown individuals on November 7.

The attack was carried out by two people riding a motorcycle who threw a package containing explosive materials at the garage of Koman's parent's home in Jakarta. Prior to this on October 24, two motorcycle riders hung a package on the fence of her parent's home and a short time later it burst into flames.

Another case targeted Lokataru Foundation Executive Director Haris Azhar and Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Coordinator Fatia Maulidayanti.

The pair were reported to police by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan using the defamation articles under the Information and Electronic Transaction Law (ITE Law) just because of a discussion on a joint study by several civil society organisations about factors which have triggered human rights violations in Papua.

Digital attacks

According to Amnesty, attacks against human rights defenders also occurred in the form of hacking. Out of 57 cases of digital attacks, there were several hacks or attempted hacks of human rights defenders' private accounts or their organisations.

Hamid said that in general these kind of attacks targeted WhatsApp, Twitter accounts, Telegram and doxing attacks. This occurred on May 17 for example.

The WhatsApp and Telegram accounts belonging to Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) staff and Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) employees were hacked after they held a press conference on threats to sack KPK employees for failing to pass the civil knowledge or nationalism test.

"Attacks such as this will continue if the government and law enforcement officials do not take concrete steps to investigate these cases and bring the perpetrators to court", asserted Hamid.

Hamid said that this year Amnesty also highlighted the trend of weakening human rights and the hope that this year would show a better record. Hamid said however, "That there were no significant improvements seen in the human rights situation in this country [this year]".

In Amnesty's view, although there have been policies issued to restore human rights, the reality is that criminalisation against those peacefully exercising their rights have continued. Moreover in the case of human rights groups, they have increased.

In this context, Amnesty hopes that next year the government will implement its obligations to prioritise the protection and fulfillment of human rights, not the reverse, by ignoring the issue for the sake of other interests.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Catatan Akhir 2021 Amnesty International Indonesia: 95 Kasus Serangan Ke Pembela HAM".]

Source: https://www.suara.com/news/2021/12/13/115532/catatan-akhir-2021-amnesty-international-indonesia-95-kasus-serangan-ke-pembela-ham