Human Rights Watch Country report Indonesia
Human Rights Watch World Report 2017
World Report 2017 summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. It reflects investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff undertook in 2016, usually in close partnership with human rights activists in the country in focus.
In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights not as an essential check on official power but as an impediment to the majority will.
|World Report 2017 – Human Rights Trends Around the Globe
World Report 2017 summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. It reflects investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff undertook in 2016, usually in close partnership with human rights activists in the country in focus. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights not as an essential check on official power but as an impediment to the majority will.
1) Human Rights Watch Country report Indonesia
Indonesia Events of 2016
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s rhetorical support for human rights has yet to translate into meaningful policy initiatives to address the country’s serious rights problems. In 2016, Jokowi notably failed to speak out against or otherwise address discriminatory statements and policies issued by senior government and military officials that have fueled violations of the rights of religious minorities and the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population.
Religious minorities in Indonesia continue to face discriminatory regulations and violent attacks by Islamist militant groups. Impunity for the security forces in the provinces of Papua and West Papua also remains a serious problem and dozens of Papuans remain imprisoned for nonviolent expression of their political views.
In April 2016, the government broke a decades-long taboo on open discussion of the state-backed massacres of up to 1 million alleged Communists and others in 1965-1966, hosting a symposium for survivors and victim’s families to challenge the official narrative that the killings were a heroic defense of the nation against a Communist plot to overthrow the government.
However, the government has provided no details of an officially mooted accountability process for the massacres, including when it might begin operations. Jokowi’s decision in July 2016 to appoint former General Wiranto as security minister, who was indicted by a UN-supported tribunal for crimes against humanity, has heightened concerns about his administration’s commitment to human rights and accountability.
Jokowi continues to be outspoken in his support for the death penalty, making execution of convicted drug traffickers a symbol of his resolve as a leader. Indonesia executed four convicted drug traffickers in July 2016, but ordered a last-minute delay in the executions of 10 other death row prisoners pending a “comprehensive review” of their cases. The government has indicated that executions will continue in 2017.
Thousands of children in Indonesia, some just 8 years old, are working in hazardous conditions on tobacco farms.
Freedom of Religion
In January, Indonesian officials and security forces were complicit in the violent forced eviction of more than 7,000 members of the Gerakan Fajar Nusantara religious community, known as Gafatar, from their homes in East and West Kalimantan.
Human Rights Watch research found that security forces failed to protect members of Gafatar, standing by while mobs from the ethnic Malay and Dayak communities looted and destroyed properties owned by group members, many of whom originally came from Java. Government officials transferred Gafatar members to unofficial detention centers and then to their home towns, not as a short-term safety measure, but apparently to end their presence on the island and dissolve the religious group.
In March 2016, the Jokowi administration issued a decree banning Gafatar activities; punishments for violations include a maximum five-year prison term. The government also arrested three Gafatar leaders who face possible prison terms of life imprisonment on charges of blasphemy and treason.
In January 2016, local government authorities banned the activities of the Ahmadiyah religious community in Subang, West Java. Neither Jokowi nor other national officials spoke out or intervened to lift the ban. That same month, local government officials on Bangka Island, located off the east coast of Sumatra, instructed the island’s Ahmadiyah community to convert to Sunni Islam or face forcible expulsion from the area. Neither Jokowi nor other central government officials spoke out in defense of the beleaguered Ahmadiyah communities.
In July 2016, a mob in the city of Tanjung Balai in northern Sumatra attacked and inflicted serious damage on three Buddhist temples associated with the city’s ethnic Chinese community. Police deny that the attack was sectarian and arrested seven suspects in the attack.
Women’s and Girls’ Rights
In June 2016, Indonesia’s Minister of Home Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo backtracked on his commitment to abolish rights-violating local and regional Sharia (Islamic law) regulations. Although his office annulled 3,143 other “problematic regional regulations” for violating the country’s credo of “unity in diversity” and although Indonesian law stipulates that regulation of religion is for national, not regional or local authorities, the ministry left in place all existing Sharia provisions, many of them discriminatory.
Indonesia’s official Commission on Violence against Women reported that, as of August 2016, the number of discriminatory national and local regulations targeting women had risen to 422, from 389 at the end of 2015. They include local laws compelling women and girls to don the hijab, or headscarf, in schools, government offices, and public spaces. While many of these laws require traditional Sunni Muslim garb both for women and men, research by Human Rights Watch indicates they disproportionately target women.
A local bylaw implemented in August in Sumedang, West Java, forbids anyone with an “eye-catching appearance” from going out alone at night. The municipal government justified the regulation on the basis that it would help discourage sexual activity.
The Jokowi administration has repeatedly said it intends to take a new approach to Indonesia’s easternmost provinces, Papua and West Papua (“Papua”), home to a low-level insurgency and a peaceful pro-independence movement, including by addressing human rights concerns. The reality has not matched the rhetoric.
In April 2016, the government announced that it would seek accountability for 11 high-priority past human rights cases in Papua. They include the Biak massacre in July 1998, when security forces opened fire on participants at a peaceful flag-raising ceremony on the island, the military crackdown on Papuans in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena in 2003 that left dozens killed and thousands displaced, and the forced break-up of the Papuan People’s Congress in October 2011 that left three people dead and hundreds injured. However, the government has not provided any details as to when, where, and how the cases would be addressed.
Indonesian authorities continue to restrict access by foreign journalists and rights monitors to the region. In January 2016, the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok informed Bangkok-based France 24 correspondent Cyril Payen that it had denied his application for a journalist’s visa for a reporting trip to Papua.
Indonesian government officials justified the visa rejection on the basis that Payen’s previous reporting, which focused on pro-independence sentiment in the region, was “biased and unbalanced.” Rather than engaging with Payen and France 24 to publicly challenge any inaccuracies in the previous reporting, authorities threatened to deny visas to Payen and any other France 24 journalists seeking to report from the country. Payen’s case highlights the gap between Jokowi’s announced “opening” of Papua to foreign media and the reality facing journalists still blocked from reporting there.
On May 2, Indonesian police detained more than 1,500 supporters of Papuan independence for “lacking a permit to hold a rally.” Police released the detainees after several hours without charge, but their detention underlines the official lack of tolerance for peaceful expression of political aspirations in Papua. At the end of August 2016, 37 Papuan activists remained imprisoned after being convicted of rebellion or treason (“makar”), many for nonviolent “crimes” such as public display of the pro-independence Morning Star flag.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Starting in January 2016, high-ranking Indonesian officials made a series of vitriolic anti-LGBT statements and policy pronouncements, fueling increased threats and at times violent attacks on LGBT activistsand individuals, primarily by Islamist militants. In some cases, the threats and violence occurred in the presence, and with the tacit support, of government officials or security forces.
State institutions, including the National Broadcasting Commission and the National Child Protection Commission, issued censorship directives banning information and broadcasts that portrayed the lives of LGBT people as “normal” as well as so-called propaganda about LGBT lives. Ministries proposed discriminatory and regressive anti-LGBT laws.
In July and August, the Constitutional Court heard a petition that proposed amending the criminal code to criminalize sex outside of marriage and same-sex sexual relations. During the initial hearings, the petitioners—led by a group called the Family Love Alliance—put forward ill-informed and bigoted testimony similar to the anti-LGBT rhetoric espoused by Indonesian officials and politicians earlier in the year. The government, the respondent in the case, said criminalizing sex out of wedlock would make “the sinner a criminal, and the government authoritarian,” a view echoed in testimony by the National Commission on Violence Against Women and other groups opposed to the petition. At time of writing the court had not yet ruled on the petition.
Military Reform and Impunity
Indonesia’s Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo announced in May 2015 that the government would form a “Reconciliation Commission” to seek a “permanent solution for all unresolved human rights abuses” of the past half century. Prasetyo said the cases would include the state-sanctioned massacres of 1965-1966, in which the military and military-backed vigilantes killed up to 1 million people.
The government provided no further details of when the “Reconciliation Commission” might begin operations or how the process of accountability would proceed. Paramilitary and nationalist groups that oppose accountability have criticized calls for redress for past rights abuses as an attempt “to revive communism.”
Jokowi’s July 2016 decision to appoint Wiranto, indicted as a crimes against humanity suspect by a UN-backed tribunal, as security minister heightened concerns about the Jokowi administration’s commitment to human rights and accountability.
Thousands of children in Indonesia, some just 8 years old, are working in hazardous conditions on tobacco farms. Child tobacco workers are exposed to nicotine, handle toxic chemicals, use sharp tools, lift heavy loads, and work in extreme heat. The work can have lasting consequences for their health and development. Indonesian and multinational tobacco companies buy tobacco grown in Indonesia, but none do enough to ensure that children are not doing hazardous work on farms in their supply chains. Human Rights Watch has called on the Indonesian government and tobacco companies to prohibit children from work that involves direct contact with tobacco, inspect farms to ensure children are not in danger, and carry out an extensive public education and training program to raise awareness of the health risks to children of work in tobacco farming.
Despite a 1977 government ban on the practice, more than 18,000 people with psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) in Indonesia are currently subjected to pasung—being shackled or locked up in small confined spaces—sometimes for months or years at a time.
Due to prevalent stigma and the absence of adequate community-based support services or mental health care, people with psychosocial disabilities often end up locked-up in overcrowded and unsanitary institutions without their consent, where they face abuse ranging from physical and sexual violence to involuntary treatment including shackling, electroshock therapy, isolation, and forced contraception.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill was passed by the Indonesian parliament in March 2016. While the bill represents a major advancement, it does not fully comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Indonesia ratified in 2011.
During a meeting with Human Rights Watch in April 2016, Indonesia’s minister of health, Nila Moeloek, orally committed to providing mental health medication in all 9,500 community health centers (puskesmas) across the country. Government implementation of this commitment could help turn the tide against shackling.
Refugees and Asylum Seekers
In June, the government acceded to international pressure and allowed a boatload of 44 Sri Lankans stranded on a beach in northern Aceh province to come ashore and receive assistance from UN and International Organization for Migration personnel. The decision followed a 10-day standoff in which Indonesian authorities refused to allow the group to disembark and instead insisted that the boat leave Indonesian waters after being resupplied and refueled.
According to UN refugee agency data, as of February 2016 there were 13,829 refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia, all living in legal limbo because Indonesia is not a party to the Refugee Convention and lacks an asylum law. This number included 4,723 people detained in immigration centers, including unaccompanied children.
Key International Actors
Jokowi’s support for the use of the death penalty against convicted drug traffickers has strained ties over the past year with close bilateral allies, including Australia. The likelihood of more executions in 2017 will continue to make that issue a sore point in Indonesia’s foreign relations.
A July 2016 decision by a UN-backed tribunal in The Hague against China’s claims in the South China Sea will bolster and ensure the continuance of joint military exercises and intelligence sharing with the United States in 2017. Indonesia’s own claims of an exclusive economic zone in that area may fuel more disputes between Indonesian navy patrols and Chinese fishing boats in the coming year. However, the Indonesian government’s passive and active complicity in hateful anti-LGBT rhetoric and moves toward discriminatory legislation over the past year will likely continue to be an irritant in US ties.
In August, the US government called on Indonesia to “respect and uphold international rights and standards” after Jokowi’s spokesman Johan Budi declared that there was “no room” for the LGBT community in Indonesia.
- 2) Korean company bans forest clearing for Indonesian palm oil concessions
Korean company Korindo has promised to conduct an assessment of 75,000 hectares of land concessions they have in Indonesian Papua.
12 January 2017 / Mongabay.com
- Korindo came under scrutiny last year when U.S.-based environmental group Mighty Earth published a damning report on their practice of burning to clear land.
- The report “Burning Paradise” was published on September 1, 2016 and alleged that Korindo had caused 30,000 hectares of deforestation and an estimated 894 fire hotspots since 2013.
- The illegal, yet commonly-used practice of companies burning land to clear it, leads to an annual haze from forest and peatland fires.
Korean company Korindo has said they will stop clearing forest for palm oil concessions until sustainability assessments can be made. The company has promised to conduct an assessment of the 75,000 hectares of remaining forests on their palm oil concessions in Indonesian Papua.
U.S.-based environmental group Mighty Earth said in a statement on January 10 that they and their partners will be meeting with Korindo at the end of the month in the hopes that the company will agree to use the High Carbon Stock Approach methodology (HCSA) in its assessments.
HCSA is regarded as the industry standard methodology for distinguishing forest areas from degraded land. In order to follow the HCSA standard, Korindo must use credible assessors, make assessments available to the public, and seek independent verification of compliance.
Korindo’s moratorium and assessment comes just a few months after Mighty Earth and its partners released the report “Burning Paradise” on September 1, 2016. It alleged that Korindo had caused 30,000 hectares of deforestation and an estimated 894 fire hotspots since 2013, and led to swift investigations by the Indonesian government.
According to the report, Korindo has been scrutinized for their practices for some time. Data published by Earthsight in November 2015 showed fires burning in areas that were going through conversion for oil palm in two locations owned by Korindo. Also in 2015, the company received a three-month permit suspension for fires at an industrial timber concession in Indonesian Borneo. Palm oil traders Wilmar and Musim Mas stopped sourcing from Korindo due to violations of their No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) policies.
It is illegal for companies in Indonesia to burn land to clear it, but it is still a common practice. The method fuels annual forest and peatland fires that fill the air in the region with a thick, choking haze. This haze affects other parts of Southeast Asia and has led to national health emergencies and a spike in greenhouse gas emissions. Fires were particularly bad in 2015, spurring a haze crisis that research indicates may have contributed to the premature deaths of around 100,000 people.
The government has also brought criminal and civil charges against several companies for causing fires.
COMMODITIES | Thu Jan 12, 2017 | 6:04am EST
3) Indonesia says Freeport, other miners halt exports
By Wilda Asmarini | JAKARTA
Freeport-McMoRan and other miners have halted Indonesian shipments of copper concentrates to abide by a government ban on semi-processed metal ore exports that took effect on Thursday, a mining ministry official told Reuters.
The stoppage could prove to be brief though as President Joko Widodo’s administration hammers out new regulations that could ease the ban and allow the resumption of some exports.
Mining Minister Ignasius Jonan is expected to hold a news conference on the new rules later on Thursday.
The temporary halt in Indonesian copper exports was not expected to have an immediate impact on global copper prices due to China’s ample metal stockpiles ahead of the Chinese New Year at the end of the month. It would take export delays of several weeks to bolster prices, traders said.
Indonesia announced in 2014 a ban on ore shipments to push miners to build smelters to process ore locally, although it allowed some concentrate exports to continue amid protests from the industry.
The full ban, which also covers lead, zinc, iron and manganese concentrates, took effect on Thursday, meaning only shipments of fully processed metals were now allowed.
Asked if shipments of copper concentrates from Freeport and Medco Energi unit Amman Mineral Nusatenggara have stopped, Coal and Minerals Director General Bambang Gatot said, "Yes, in accordance with the regulation."
Freeport and Medco officials were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
A Freeport spokesman said on Wednesday that the firm was "working cooperatively with government officials to ensure that our operations can continue without interruption." The company has said its targeted production from its Grasberg mine was 180,000-200,000 tonnes of copper ore per day.
Government officials earlier this week said they would introduce new rules that would allow concentrate shipments to continue beyond Thursday’s deadline in certain cases, but those revisions have yet to be finalised.
Jakarta was also considering allowing the resumption of nickel ore and bauxite shipments, which have been prohibited since January 2014.
Any relaxation of Indonesia’s ban on nickel ore exports could affect nickel smelter investors as well as nickel prices, which have been supported by supply restrictions, including from the Philippines, which took Indonesia’s place as the world’s top nickel ore exporter in 2014.
Mining ministry’s Gatot declined on Thursday to comment on when the new regulations would be released.
(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Sydney; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Tom Hogue and Randy Fabi)