Global rights group CIVICUS Monitor has slammed Indonesian government for its bid for the UN Human Rights Council membership despite its ongoing aggressive suppression of dissent in restive Papua and other regions.
In a press statement on Oct. 6, the group said the state of civic space in Indonesia is rated as "obstructed."
CIVICUS Monitor highlighted a series of alleged rights violations in the region for voicing dissent or even activism.
The group pointed out that "in recent months, protests by communities have been met with arrests and excessive force from the police."
"Papuan activists continue to face arbitrary arrests, harassment, and criminalization," the group added.
Two prominent human rights defenders are facing defamation charges, while there have been harassment and threats against journalists, CIVICUS said.
The allegations from CIVICUS come amidst Indonesia's bid to join as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2024 to 2026.
The group also pointed out that "excessive police force" has been used in a number of incidents.
CIVICUS said that in September, police cracked down and arrested dozens of demonstrators who protested government plans to evict thousands in the Riau Islands Province to make way for a proposed multibillion-dollar Chinese-owned glass factory and 'Eco-City.'
The government announced that Rempang's estimated 7,500 residents would have to move inland, some 60 kilometers away from their coastal homes.
In August, a peaceful protest in West Sumatra province by a community from Air Bangis village about plans to build an oil refinery was forcibly dispersed and 14 protesters were arrested.
In July, police in Jambu province dispersed a peaceful protest and arrested around 27 individuals from Teluk Raya Village who were holding a protest and blockade because five farmers were arrested for allegedly stealing palm fruits from a palm oil company.
"Arbitrary arrests, harassment, and criminalization of Papuan activists continue to be documented," the group alleged.
In July, police arrested Viktor Makamuke, of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, a pro-independence movement. He was allegedly coerced and threatened to pledge allegiance to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.
In the same month, Yahukimo District police arbitrarily arrested six activists belonging to the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) for carrying out a cleaning activity in the town of Dekai. They were released after questioning for about an hour.
CIVICUS also pointed out instances of arrests and detentions by Indonesian police in retaliation for corruption allegations against officials in the government.
The group highlighted the trial of Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti which began in April 2023 for criminal defamation after they discussed a human rights report on Papua on YouTube.
In August 2021, the duo discussed the findings of several NGOs revealing the alleged connection of the coordinating minister for Maritime Affairs and several other authorities with gold mining activities in the Blok Wabu area in the Intan Jaya district of Papua.
CIVICUS also highlighted cases of rights violations against journalists for their work.
"There have been reports of harassment and threats against journalists for their work," the group said.
In July, the police had reportedly intimidated journalist Abdel Gamel Naser while reporting on the destruction of mangrove forests in the Youtefa Bay Nature Park conservation area in Jayapura, Papua Province.
In the same month, the police had blocked Aleks Waine, a Papuan journalist who is also the coordinator of the Dogiyai Journalists Association from covering the working visit of the coordinating minister for Human Development and Culture in Dogiyai district in Central Papua Province.
CIVICUS pointed out that several journalists had "received threats while covering the investigation" on Airlangga Hartarto the coordinating minister for the Economy at the Attorney General's Office in July 2023.
In September, Lampung TV journalist Diyon Saputra was intimidated by the aides of South Lampung District head Nanang Ermanto while he was covering an embezzlement case in the Tanjung Karang District Court.