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Amnesty slams intimidation against student leader for criticising state policy

Republika - November 10, 2023

Erdy Nasrul, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid is monitoring a case of alleged intimidation by security forces against University of Indonesia Student Executive Council (BEM UI) Chairperson Melki Sedek Huang.

Hamid feels that this kind of thing should not happen in a democratic country and has condemned the intimidation directed at Huang along with this parents and teachers.

"We know Melki as a student who articulates his views on state policy. He is critical of the Constitutional Court's decision on the age limit for presidential and vice presidential candidates. This is Melki's constitutional right", Hamid told reporters on Friday October 10.

Hamid emphasised that intimidation against citizens who criticise the state is a serious threat to freedom of expression and warned that this adds to the list of cases of threats to civil liberties in Indonesia.

"Everyone has the right to state their thoughts without being afraid of threats and punishment", said Hamid.

Hamid is therefore urging the authorities to investigate the intimidation against Huang, his family and teachers, as well as fellow students, which was allegedly carried out by state security forces. Hamid is asking that the perpetrators be prosecuted through a fair and transparent legal process.

"The state is obliged to prevent intimidation against individuals who express their thoughts peacefully. The state must also ensure that the duties of the security apparatus are to provide guidance, service and protection. Not suppress criticism", said Hamid.

Earlier on Tuesday November 7, Huang claimed that he had been intimidated directly and through his parents and teachers in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.

"My mother was visited by security personnel at home. Officers from the TNI [Indonesian military] and the Polri [national police] asked my mother, 'When does Melki usually come home? What are Melki's activities at home?'", said Melki in a video recording obtained by Amnesty International on Wednesday November 8.

Melki also claimed that he has received threats since becoming the BEM UI chairperson in early 2023. The threats increased leading up to and after demonstrations rejecting the Constitutional Court's decision on the age limit for presidential and vice presidential candidates on October 16, 2023.

Amnesty International data as of October 2023 has recorded that since the beginning of this year there has been at least 78 cases of physical attacks against human rights defenders with at least 226 victims. These attacks include intimidation and physical attacks, being reported to the police, attempted murder, criminalisation, arrest and attacks against human rights institutions.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty: Usut Intimidasi terhadap Ketua BEM UI".]

Source: https://news.republika.co.id/berita/s3wr2o451/amnesty-usut-intimidasi-terhadap-ketua-bem-u