Jakarta – A banner with a cartoon resembling President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo with a long nose like Pinocchio was erected at a Kamisan (Thursday) action in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday January 19. The demonstration coincided with the 16 years of Kamisan actions.
Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Impunity Monitoring Division member Ahmad Sajali said that the illustration of Pinocchio depicts Widodo's character. He explained that when Pinocchio lies, his nose grows longer.
Sajali said that many of Widodo's pledges on human rights have never been fulfilled. Therefore the Kamisan action agreed to use the illustration of Widodo with a long nose like Pinocchio.
"Of course that's Jokowi's face, the theme of this Kamisan (action) is humming out Jokowi's lies. We feel that the more [he promises] the more President Jokowi's lies pile up on past gross human rights violations as well as other critical issues", said Sajali.
He is of the view that Widodo's worst lie was degrading his pledge to fully resolve gross human rights violations by only making a public acknowledgment that these violations have occurred.
"That's how to degrade a pledge to fully resolve gross human rights [violations] to just an acknowledgement and resolving them without settling the substance or essence of these gross human rights violations", he said.
In the banner erected at the Kamisan action, the cartoon resembling Widodo shows him with his mouth open. The picture looks like a person shouting. Then coming out of his mouth is printed the words "empty talk" (omong kosong).
The participants at today's action included victims and the families of victims of rights abuses, legal experts and other people who gave speeches next to the banner.
One of the speakers recollected the promises related to settling gross human rights abuses that were prioritised by Widodo when he became a presidential candidate in the 2014 elections. At the time, Widodo pledged to fully resolve these abuses if he became president.
But after eight years of holding the position of president, only one case of gross human rights violations has reached the courts, the 2014 Paniai massacre in Papua. The sole defendant in the case however, was subsequently released from all charges.
During the speech, the speaker also shouted slogans that are often articulated during Kamisan actions.
"Don't be silent!", shouted the speaker.
"Fight!", replied the action participants.
"Jokowi", shouted the speaker.
"Don't lie!", replied the protesters in unison.
In a separate speech, the mother of a victim of the Semanggi I student shootings in 1998, Sumarsih, also reminded Widodo to restore the rights of the victims and the families of the victims.
"Of the series of pledges to eliminate impunity and fully resolve gross human rights [violations] that have been made by the Bapak [Mr Widodo] since the 2014 elections, through his Nawa Cita [nine point program], to this day none have been realised", she said.
"[So] the promise that we are hearing new [from Widodo] are just lies", she added.
Speaking at the State Palace on January 11, Widodo acknowledge that 12 cases of gross human rights violations had taken place in Indonesia, including the 1965-66 mass killings and the Semanggi tragedy. The government claimed that the non-judicial process that they are pursuing will not nullify judicial efforts.
To this day, scores of gross human rights case have yet to be taken before the courts. The investigation dossiers complied by National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) are still stuck at the Attorney General's Office. (yla/pmg)
During his 2014 election campaign Widodo pledged to solve eight past human rights cases which he referred to as a historical burden. These included violations which took place in 1997-98, during the Suharto dictatorship and the 1965 anti-communist purge. Although the Komnas HAM has submitted investigation dossiers on these to the Attorney General's Office – which has the authority to prosecute cases – all have been rejected on the grounds that they are "incomplete". Rights activists say Widodo's failure to pursue these cases is because senior figures in his administration and others close to his PDI-P ruling party's chairperson Megawati Sukarnoputri would face indictment.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Spanduk Kartun Jokowi Terbentang di Aksi Kamisan Seberang Istana".]