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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2644

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

Bangkok, 18 September,

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) 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 massacres, 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 Indonesian Police.

- Asian Tribune -

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