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Lokataru says Jokowi lies about freedom of opinion, obscures facts

Tempo - December 19, 2023

Adil Al Hasan, Daniel A. Fajri, Jakarta – Executive Director of the human rights group Lokataru Foundation, Delpedro Marhaen, believes that President Joko Widodo or Jokowi's statement that there were no restrictions on freedom of expression during his rule is a lie and obscures the facts.

"He obfuscates the facts about many cases of restrictions on freedom of expression that occurred during his leadership. Jokowi ignores and overlooked many cases of restrictions on freedom of expression that have occurred so far," Delpedro said in his statement on Monday, Dec. 18.

Earlier, President Jokowi said the criticism voiced by presidential candidate number 1 Anies Baswedan regarding Indonesia's declining democracy index would be the government's evaluation. "We have never imposed any restrictions," he said in Monas, Gambir, Central Jakarta, on Friday, Dec. 15.

Lokataru Foundation documented that restrictions on freedom of expression occurred during the rally called Reformasi Dikorupsi, or Reform Corrupted, in September 2019. Thousands of students and civil society groups were arrested for demonstrating against the amendments to the Corruption Eradication Commission Law and other controversial bills.

"In Jakarta, more than 1,489 protesters were arrested, 380 of whom were named as suspects. Activist and musician Ananda Badudu, who was raising funds, was also arrested. During this action, five people died as a result of the violence perpetrated by police officers and hundreds of others were victims of violence," he said.

Delpedro recalled that several schools and universities also prohibited their students from participating in the action, following an appeal by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

In addition to the Reform Corrupted rally, there were also restrictions on actions against racism against Papuans throughout 2019.

"In this action, 23 people in Papua died and 43 Papuan students in Surabaya were arrested by the police," he said. Apart from the series of violence in various demonstrations, he added, the government through the Kominfo Ministry also cut off internet access and communications in Papua.

During the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic, the government mobilized cyber police to monitor citizens' activities in cyberspace. The Police Chief also issued a Telegram Letter banning demonstrations amid the pandemic.

"As a result, several pro-democracy activists were arrested on charges of incitement, such as three activists from Aksi Kamisan Malang, Ravio Patra, Jumhur Hidayat, Syahganda Nainggolan, PT IWIP Ucen workers, and there were various acts of intimidation against the UGM CLS discussion on the President's impeachment and the Jogja Food Solidarity Action at the Walhi Jogja office," said Delpedro.

Delpedro continued that restrictions on freedom of expression also occurred in a series of actions against the Job Creation Law. At least 5,918 protesters were arrested in different cities and many of them were victims of violence. "Many workers who wanted to join the protest were blocked, and many labor unions were even intimidated and threatened with layoffs if they joined in the action," he said.

A year later, 80 people were arrested in Jakarta during a demonstration against the extension of the presidential term in 2022. During that action, many of them became victims of police violence, including digital attacks and hacking. "The government has also appealed to schools and universities to ban students from participating in protests."

The Lokataru Foundation noted that throughout 2023, there were 60 attacks on freedom of speech and thought, including against Rocky Gerung for criticizing President Jokowi over Indonesia's new capital Nusantara or IKN. Rocky Gerung faced criminal charges, civil lawsuits, boycotts, and demonstrations.

"Most of the perpetrators were PDIP politicians who were offended by Rocky Gerung's statement which was considered an insult to President Joko Widodo," he said.

In 2023, he said restrictions on freedom of expression also occurred in several actions against the political dynasty. The Festival of Justice organized by the Social Movement Institute in Jogja was banned, the YouTube channel of the Utan Kayu Theater, which broadcasts content about the political dynasty, was hacked, and the Student Executive Board (BEM) of UI and UGM was intimidated.

"During the era of President Jokowi, not only were citizens' rights to gather and express opinions restricted, but in many cases of demonstrations, protesters were also deprived of their rights to be treated humanely and fairly," Delpedro concluded.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1811103/lokataru-says-jokowi-lies-about-freedom-of-opinion-obscures-fact