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Indonesia: Candidates speak out on human rights

Human Rights Watch News Release - February 9, 2024

Jakarta – Two of the three Indonesian presidential and vice presidential candidates responded to a questionnaire on key human rights issues facing people in Indonesia, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch prepared the questionnaire to provide the candidates an opportunity to publicly express their views on human rights concerns ahead of the February 14, 2024 general elections.

The presidential candidates Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo submitted their responses in English. Prabowo Subianto Djojohadikusumo, the third presidential candidate, did not respond. Human Rights Watch sent the questionnaire, in English, to the three candidates on December 1, 2023, and repeatedly followed up with their political teams.

"Two of the main political teams have done Indonesian voters a service by sharing their views on the critically important human rights issues affecting the country," said Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Politicians work hard to draw in supporters during elections, but voters should also be able to go beyond the rhetoric to compare actual positions, and hold the candidates to their word if they are elected."

In Indonesian elections, candidates usually represent a coalition of parties. There are currently 18 national parties. The older established political parties such as Golkar Party, which supports Djojohadikusumo and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, PDIP), which supports Ganjar Pranowo, have formed coalitions with some of the other parties. A group of smaller parties are backing Anies Baswedan and vice presidential candidate Muhaimin Iskandar, who heads the Nation Awakening Party.

The questionnaire contained 16 questions focused on women's rights, children's rights to education, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, labor rights, media freedom, and freedom of expression. Other questions included policies on disability rights, protection of Indonesian migrant workers, and Indonesia's foreign policy in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. There were also questions on policies that would address accountability for past violations including the mass killings in 1965, atrocities against ethnic Madurese on Kalimantan Island, sectarian violence in the Malukus Islands, the conflict in Aceh, the Lake Poso violence, the crackdown against student activists in 1998, and killings in East Timor.

The deadline for responding was January 25. Ganjar Pranowo and the vice presidential candidate Mahfud M.D.'s team sent an 8-page response on January 26. Baswedan and Iskandar's campaign team sent a 10-page response on February 4. Both teams also referred to their candidates' vision and mission statements that they had officially submitted to the General Elections Commission.

Human Rights Watch contacted each campaign multiple times between December 1 and February 3 via phone, text message, traditional mail, and email to ensure that they had received the questionnaire and to remind them of the deadline. Neither Prabowo Djojohadikusumo's team, nor his running mate, Gibran R. Raka, provided any response to these requests.

About 205 million registered voters will be eligible to cast their ballots on February 14, choosing their presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as members of the House of Representatives, the Regional Representative Council, and provincial and local parliaments.

"All Indonesian presidential and vice presidential candidates should clearly express their positions on the human rights issues facing the country," Pearson said. "Indonesian voters need to know their positions on many important issues that affect them and the communities in which they live."


All three teams have submitted their vision and mission statements ahead of the election, which are available with the General Election Commission.

Below is a Human Rights Watch summary of the responses received to the questionnaire. The full answers from the campaigns of two of the three presidential and vice presidential candidates can be accessed online at:

Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud M.D. https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2024/02/Response%20from%20Ganjar%20Pranowo%20and%20Mahfud%20MD%20to%20HRW.pdf.

Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2024/02/Response%20from%20Anies%20Baswedan%20to%20HRW.pdf

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2024/02/08/indonesia-candidates-speak-out-human-right