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'Message for change': Thousands write about hopes on human rights to the state

Jakarta Post - December 10, 2019

Sausan Atika, Jakarta – Dozens of people wearing black clothes from rights group Amnesty International Indonesia marched to the State Secretary office in Central Jakarta on Tuesday to deliver thousands of letters and postcards from the public concerning their hopes on human rights.

The letters, part of the "PENA: message for change" campaign, aimed to give members of the public a chance to express their concerns about human rights issues to the state, Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid said.

Amnesty collected about 5,000 letters and postcards from across the country from Sept. 17 until Dec. 7.

"[The letters] show that [the writers] believe in their capacity to urge for change and that the state would hear their voices. The government should respond to this enthusiasm with real action," Usman said in a statement on Tuesday.

The letters collected are categorized into eight topics, with the top three, or a total of 2,289 letters, demanding the government to pass the sexual violence eradication bill (RUU PKS); to end human rights violations in Papua; and to establish a fact-finding team to solve the case of the acid attack against Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) top investigator Novel Baswedan.

The remaining letters demanded that the government, among other things, end religious-based discrimination, eliminate impunity, strictly prohibit forced labor practices in palm plantations, ban discrimination against gender minorities and abolish the death penalty.

The group held the campaign ahead of the 2019 general election period in a bid to disseminate the nine-point human rights agenda that should become a priority of the country, as stated in Amnesty's report published in April this year.

In addition, Usman cited a survey by Kompas daily for the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), showing 99.5 percent of respondents asking for settlement of past human rights abuse cases through legal proceedings, while at the same time they doubt Jokowi's administration's capability to resolve the cases.

"When public trust in the government wavers, development goals are very difficult to achieve," he said.

Usman went on to say that the campaign was considered important as the group had seen writing make a significant impact on people's lives.

"Several discriminatory rules and regulations worldwide could also be changed, including in Indonesia," he said, citing the case of Baiq Nuril Maknun, a person convicted of defaming her sexual abuser, who was granted a presidential pardon by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Nuril's amnesty followed outcry from the public, with thousands of signed petitions and letters initiated by human rights groups and communities in general urging Jokowi to free her from all charges. (sau)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/12/10/message-for-change-thousands-write-about-hopes-on-human-rights-to-the-state.html