Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has recorded that as many as 967 people have been arrested for articulating their views in the public domain.
Kontras said that this data was obtained between January 2022 and June 2023 and covered a total of 183 cases related to violations against freedom of opinion.
"The variety of incident that occurred resulted in 967 people being arrested", said Kontras Coordinator Dimas Bagus Arya at the Kontras offices in Jakarta on Tuesday August 8.
Arya said that these incidents resulted in at least 272 people being injured and three people killed. They also said that the police were the principle actor in incidents related to violations against the right to freedom of expression.
"Meanwhile these incidents resulted in at least 272 people being injured and three others being killed", he said.
"According to our records, the police were the dominant perpetrator and were involved in 128 incidents, followed by other government agencies with 27 incidents and the private sector (companies, employers) with 24 incidents", he said.
Kontras also highlighted several specific cases of violations against the right to freedom of expression. Such as the criminalisation of farmers from the Karawang Farmers Trade Union (SEPETAK) in West Java, allegedly committed by the Karawang district police, because they articulated their right to land.
Then there is the criminalisation of the founder of the Lokataru Human Rights Foundation Haris Azhar and former Kontras coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti in the "Lord Luhut" case, which is currently being heard in the East Jakarta District Court. Kontras says they were criminalised for alleged defamation against Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.
Kontras also highlighted the criminalisation of three farmers from Pakel in Banyuwangi, East Java, who were arrested and charged for crimes subject to 10 years imprisonment for annexing corporate land.
Then there was the criminalisation of workers from the company PT Gunbuster Nickel Industries (GNI), which is currently being heard in the Poso District Court in Central Sulawesi. The workers were arrested during a strike action last February.
The group also highlighted the police reports submitted by volunteer groups supporting President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo against academic Rocky Gerung after he criticised Widodo over the new capital city (IKN) being built in East Kalimantan.
Kontras said that this situation will continue in concert with the quality of Indonesian democracy, which is tending to stagnate. Kontras is asking President Widodo to ensure that people's right to freedom of opinion is guaranteed.
They are also asking the Indonesian police to stop repressive actions against demonstrations related to public expression. In addition to this, they are also urging the House of Representatives (DPR) to carry out supervision of government regulations that restrict public criticism.
"That the president of the Republic of Indonesia ensure that officials under his control stop all forms of efforts to silence critics through violence, criminalisation, and guarantee citizen's civil freedoms", he said in conclusion. (pan/isn)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "KontraS: 967 Orang Ditangkap Akibat Menyuarakan Pendapat".]