Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says that the statement by Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs, Mahfud MD, who said that there have been no human rights (HAM) violations under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is a misleading narrative.
Kontras head of research Rivanlee Anandar asserted that there have been several cases of human rights violations since Widodo became president. "It's a misleading narrative", said Anandar in an official statement received by CNN Indonesia on Friday December 13.
Based on Kontras' records, there have been several actions by the government that can be said to be human rights violations over the last year of the Widodo administration.
One case which was highlighted by Kontras was the violence which has been taking place in Papua. They found at least 64 incidents of violence against people and communities which were dominated by shootings, assault and arrests.
"Out of the scores of incidents documented, the number of victims was recorded at as many as 1,218 people who were arrested, injured or killed", read a report published by Kontras to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10.
Not only that, the report also cites repressive acts by security forces in dealing with protest actions.
According to Kontras' records, there were at least 187 incidents of violations against freedom of expression between December 2018 and November 2018 with a massive total of 1,615 people being arbitrarily arrested and detained.
These incidents, according to the report, were dominated by the forced dispersal of protests by security personnel with 101 incidents.
"Such as the 2019 May Day actions, the May 21-23 [post-election] riots [in Jakarta], and the wave of demonstrations by Papuan people against racism [in August and September] and the student actions across Indonesia on September 23-30", read the report.
Other findings by Kontras covered 40 cases where courts have handed down death sentences, acts of violence against activists and human rights defenders and compromising with national figures alleged to have committed past human rights violations.
Ignoring Komnas HAM
Anandar says that Mahfud has ignored the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) when he claimed that there have been no rights violations under Widodo's leadership. Kontras is critical of this position.
"Mahfud has annexed Komnas HAM's duties by declaring this 'new' narrative about HAM violations and Mahfud is indirectly ignoring Komnas HAM's duties and functions", he said.
Anandar referred to the definition of human rights which began with the 1949 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The definition presented by Mahfud that human rights violations by government officials are only those which are planned and have particular aims, said Anandar, has been invalid since the convention was enacted.
The convention asserts that states are obliged to promote and protect all human rights and basic freedoms, regardless of a country's political, social, economic and cultural system. "In short, there is absolutely no definition per region, per continent, per country", he said.
Anandar also cited several incidents of violence by security forces in handling mass protest or security by the military and police in Papua during the Widodo administration.
In this case, said Anandar, the state has been negligent and allowed a series of incidents to take place. "In this context, he is ignoring the actions of the state, both by omission and by commission, in violating HAM", he said.
Kontras says that one of the most repressive violations against human rights was when security forces confronted post-election protesters near the General Elections Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) building in Central Jakarta on May 21-22.
As has been reported, Mahfud recently claimed that there have been no human rights violations since Widodo took office in 2014.
According to Mahfud, if referring to the legal definition, human rights violations are actions by government officials which are planned and structured and aimed at forcibly negating the rights of its people.
Conversely, said Mahfud, if there are cases of violence by security forces against the people, by the people against other people or by the people against the security forces then it is defined as a simple crime.
"Just look at the era of Pak [Mr] Jokowi since 2014 up until today, there has not been a single HAM violation. But there's been many crimes, also many violations by rogue elements, and these are being processed", said Mahfud at the Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs in Jakarta on Thursday December 12. (mjo/bmw)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "KontraS: Pernyataan Mahfud MD Narasi Menyesatkan".]