Haris Fadhil, Jakarta – One of the witnesses that was to be presented by the legal team representing the loosing 02 presidential ticket of Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno, Haris Azhar, has refused to testify at a challenge to the presidential election (pilpres) result at the Constitutional Court.
Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) believes that the advocate and human rights (HAM) activist's refusal to testify is a setback for the Prabowo camp.
"The ones presenting him were the 02 team, presenting a witness who isn't prepared to testify is a 'counter blow' for the 02 team", said PDI-P Central Leadership Board (DPP) Chairperson Andreas Hugo Pareira on Wednesday evening June 19.
Pareira also suggested that one of the reasons Azhar refused to testify is related to Prabowo's human rights record. "Moreover Haris was also not prepared [to testify] because of HAM violations by Prabowo", he said.
Azhar has indeed said that Prabowo's human rights record was one of his reasons for refusing to testify at the Constitutional Court hearing. But he also says that both Prabowo as the plaintiff and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as related party both have a bad record on human rights.
"That aside from this, and what is also important, I myself as part of Indonesian society which has been demanding accountability and results in uncovering past human right violations, view both camps contesting the 2019 pilpres, both the Bapak [Mr] Joko Widodo camp as well as the Bapak Prabowo Subianto camp, as having a [bad] record on HAM violations, where Bapak Joko Widodo while he has held the post of president of the Republic of Indonesia for the 2014-2019 term, has not undertaken his obligation to resolve cases of gross HAM violations, while Bapak Prabowo Subianto, according to a Komnas HAM [National Human Rights Commission] report, is one of those who should be held responsible for the cases of forced abductions and disappearances over the years 1997-1998", wrote Azhar in a letter addressed to the Constitutional Court judges.
Now, in relation to the reference about Widodo's rights record, PDI-P Deputy Secretary General Ahmad Basarah claimed that they respect Azhar's reasons for refusing to testify. But he said that resolving past human rights cases is not just determined by Widodo's willingness but that there are many other factors.
"In relation to his stand which is critical of president Jokowi's position and policies which he believes have not yet been maximal in resolving case of past HAM violations we also have to respect this. Although we realise that in the matter of resolving past HAM violations it's not just a factor of Jokowi's willingness to resolve them but also indeed because there are factors which have to be considered that are multi-dimensional in character and if they are wrongly handled have the potential of creating political turbulence which could disturb social and political stability which would end up also in potentially creating new HAM violations if chaos breaks out between components of Indonesian society", he explained.
Basarah respects Azhar's refusal to be a witness in the challenge to the presidential election result because Azhar's refusal is a form of maintaining independence as a human rights activist.
"I respect Bung [Brother] Haris Azhar's position. As an activist and HAM defender he does indeed have to maintain his independence from the vortex of practical political interests in the pilpres", said Basarah.
PDI-P DPP Chairperson Hendrawan Supratikno has also spoken out about the reasons for Azhar's refusal to testify which touched on Widodo's performance in relation to human rights. Supratikno says that resolving past rights violations is indeed difficult.
"If it is said that Pak [Mr] Jokowi has yet to resolve cases of gross HAM violations inherited from the past, of course there are objective conditions that make it so. If the cases were simple, of course they would have been solved by his predecessor [former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono]. We know that the perpetrators and information about the parties is difficult to verify or validate. Pak Jokowi isn't an angel", he said.
PDI-P DPP Education and Training Division Secretary Eva Kusuma Sundari believes that Azhar should be able to differentiate between the two different issues, between being a witness in a challenge to the presidential election results and the issue of alleged human rights violations.
"I think he should differentiate between the two different issues. By becoming a witness he could instead fight for the HAM values he believes in", said Sundari.
Earlier, Azhar decided to withdraw as a witness for the Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team. Azhar's readiness to be a witness at the Constitutional Court hearing today was registered by the Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team.
"I have refused to testify for a number of reasons", Azhar told journalists on Wednesday. (haf/haf)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Haris Azhar Tolak Jadi Saksi di MK, PDIP: 'Pukulan Balik' ke 02".]