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Activist in defamation trail hits back at Minister Luhut's plan to audit NGOs

CNN Indonesia - June 8, 2023

Jakarta – A defendant in a case of alleged defamation, Fatia Maulidiyanti, has hit back at a statement by Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment (Menko Marves) Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan who said in his testimony that he wanted to audit all of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Indonesia.

According to Maulidiyanti, many of the investment project worked on by Pandjaitan are in fact funded by foreign investors.

"Actually, in my opinion it's the same, like for example Pak [Mr] Luhut is the Menko Marves, where in a number of investment projects, the RPJMN [National Medium-Term Development Plan], PSN [National Strategic Projects] and all kinds that Pak Luhut has worked on in the Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] era, they're all funded by foreign [investors], even the companies are foreign companies, many workers are foreigners too", said Maulidiyanti following a court hearing at the East Jakarta District court on Thursday June 8.

The coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said that the aim of the work done by NGOs in Indonesia is in the public interest, not foreign interests. Therefore she believes that suspicions about NGOs being foreign lackeys is a relic of the past.

"The context of foreign agents or foreign lackeys and so on it's very old-fashioned, because actually no one works for foreigners, and we see today where a lot of foreign investment also enters Indonesia, so there's no difference", said Maulidiyanti.

"Our work in the NGOs, yes, it's for the public, we have goals, aims, we have objectives which are for the public [good] and not foreign lackeys", she added.

During his testimony earlier, Pandjaitan said that the government would audit all NGOs in Indonesia. This, according to Pandjaitan, is necessary in order to determine the flow of funds that obtained by the NGOs in Indonesia. Pandjaitan suspects that there is foreign interference through these NGOs.

"That's why I want to audit all of the NGOs who get (funds) and from where", said Pandjaitan during the court hearing.

Clash with police

Meanwhile protesters from the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (KASBI) who had come to show their support for Maulidiyanti and fellow defendant and rights activist Haris Azhar were involved in a clash with police when a convoy of cars accompanying Pandjaitan was leaving the court on Thursday.

At around 3.30 pm a line of police officers tried to block KASBI protesters who wanted to stop Pandjaitan's convoy from leaving. People from the KASBI command vehicle warned their colleagues allow the convoy through but a scuffle between the police and workers was inevitable.

While the scuffle was taking place, Maulidiyanti and Azhar along with their legal team were still inside the court. They also wanted to leave the location.

The crowd of Maulidiyanti and Azhar supporters, who had rallied in front of the district court's front gate since the beginning of the trial, were not allowed to enter grounds of the court. Pro-Pandjaitan supporters meanwhile were allowed in and occupied most of the benches in the visitors section.

KASBI Chairperson Sunarno said that the hundreds of people from his union were refused permission by police to enter the courtroom, yet they had wanted to witness the trial for themselves.

"From the KASBI confederation, there are around 200 or so from Jakarta, Tangerang, Bekasi, Bogor, Karawang, Subang, maybe from Cimahi and Bandung [as well]", said Sunarno.

Indicted for defamation

Azhar and Maulidiyanti are currently standing trial for alleged defamation against Pandjaitan.

In his indictment, the public prosecutor (JPU) said that statements made by Azhar and Maulidiyanti in a video uploaded on Azhar's YouTube channel had brought Pandjaitan's good name into disrepute.

The video titled "There is Lord Luhut behind the Economic Relations-Military Operations in Intan Jaya!! There are also State Intelligence Agency Generals!!" discusses the results of a brief study by the Clean Indonesia Coalition entitled "The Economics and Politics of Military Deployment in Papua: The Case of Intan Jaya".

Azhar and Maulidiyanti have been charged under Article 27 Paragraph (3) in conjunction with Article 45 Paragraph (3) of the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law, Article 14 Paragraph (2) and Article 15 of Law Number 1/1946 and Article 310 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on defamation.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski based on two articles published by CNN Indonesia on June 8. The original title of the lead article was "Fatia Respons Luhut Mau Audit LSM: Proyek Investasi Dia Dibiayai Asing".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20230608182219-12-959498/fatia-respons-luhut-mau-audit-lsm-proyek-investasi-dia-dibiayai-asin