Indonesia: FORUM‐ASIA condemns forced dispersal of academic discussion on 1965‐66 human rights violations

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    (Jakarta/ Bangkok, 18 September 2017) ‐ The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUMASIA) 
    expresses grave concern over the forced dispersal of an academic discussion on the human rights
    violations of 1965‐55 at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) building, which houses the Jakarta
    Legal Aid (LBHI) office, by the Indonesian Police on 16 September 2017. FORUM‐ASIA further strongly
    condemns the inaction of the police on intimidation and threats of hundreds of protesters who
    surrounded the LBH Jakarta office on the night of 17 September 2017 following a solidarity event held by
    LBH Jakarta calling for actions to save democracy.

    A half‐century after the 1965‐66 massacre, which resulted in an estimated 500,000 people associated with
    the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) being killed in a widespread and systematic manner, efforts to
    reveal the truth are still being thwarted. Despite President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi’s
    promises to prioritise reconciliation, it remains a controversial topic.

    Following the forced dispersal of a seminar, ‘Revealing Historical Truth about the 1965‐66 Events’,
    scheduled to be held at the YLBHI building on 16‐17 September 2017, LBH Jakarta, the main organiser of
    the event, stated that information on the event has been provided to the Indonesian Police on 15
    September 2017. However, the Indonesian Police gathered around LBH Jakarta office on the morning of
    16 September, blocking participants from entering the venue. The seminar was targeting academics and
    survivors of the 1965‐66 massacre, most of whom are now elderly. The academic discussion aimed at
    clarifying facts and support President Jokowi’s supposed commitment to addressing past human rights
    violations.

    The Indonesian Police forcefully dispersed the discussion, by raiding the building without any formal
    letter, removing the banner of the event, and intimidating LBH Jakarta’s lawyers. This is the first time the
    police dared to forcibly enter and raid YLBHI building in such a manner. Something which had not even
    happened during the New Order era of President Suharto.

    After the solidarity event of LBHI Jakarta, hundreds of people gathered around the YLBHI building
    overnight on 17 September, throwing rocks and yelling ‘kill and burn the communists’. The complete
    inaction of the police to stop this violence, contributes to the erosion of democracy and violations of the
    rights to freedoms of expression and assembly in Indonesia.

    ‘As a democratic country, it is the fundamental duty of the State to ensure the safety and security of its
    people to peacefully express their views and assemble without fear, as guaranteed under the International
    Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Indonesia ratified in 2005 and the Constitution of
    Indonesia. The Indonesian Police should take actions in accordance with the rule of law against people
    engaging in violence’, says John Samuel, Executive Director of FORUM‐ASIA.

    FORUM-ASIA stands with its members, namely YLBHI, and civil society coalitions in Indonesia, calling on
    the Government of Indonesia to guarantee the rights of freedoms of expression and assembly. More so,
    FORUM-ASIA calls for the creation of an independent body to safeguard against and monitor the sanctioning 
    of all parties who have been involved with violent misconduct of the Indonesia Police. 

     

    About FORUM‐ASIA:

    FORUM‐ASIA is a regional human rights group with 58 member organisations in 19 countries across Asia.
    FORUM‐ASIA has offices in Bangkok, Jakarta, Geneva and Kathmandu. FORUM‐ASIA addresses key areas
    of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expression, assembly and association,
    human rights defenders, and democratisation.

    For further information, please contact:

    ‐ East Asia and ASEAN Programme, FORUM‐ASIA, [email protected]‐asia.org