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Celebrating Indonesian Human Rights Defenders --In celebrating the International Human Rights Day,

Sumber: http://ukinindonesia.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News | Tgl terbit: Kamis, 09 Desember 2010

International Human Rights Day

09 December 2010

Haris Azhar, a Coordinator of Kontras, shares his personal views about the human rights situation in Indonesia. He encourages Indonesians to continue to engage with the international community to uphold the value of human rights for everyone.
Haris Azhar Kontras activist

To mark  International Human Rights Day on 10 December, Haris Azhar, a Coordinator of Kontras, shares his personal views about the human rights situation in Indonesia. In his article Mr Azhar also encourages Indonesians to continue to engage with the international community to uphold the value of human rights for everyone.  Kontras is an prominent Indonesian NGO dealing with human rights issues.

Celebrating Indonesian Human Rights Defenders
--In celebrating the International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2010

By Haris Azhar, Coordinator of KontraS (Indonesia), Graduated from University of Essex, UK (2010).

The issue of celebrating human rights defenders (HRD) is central to the global human rights discourse. HRD advocate on human rights issues and cases around the world and many of them face threat and risks doing the work. In 1999 the United Nations agreed the ‘Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’ (UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders) which describes the  rights, frameworks and scope of works which might be undertaken by  HRDs in doing their advocacy and also including the responsibilities of states to secure those rights. 10 December is International Human Rights Day and the theme this year is Human Rights Defenders.  So what is the current situation in Indonesia?

One issue is the lack of a clear definition and agreed understanding of what is a HRD.  The other main challenge is implementation of the aspirations of the UN Declaration.  Around the world, from Chechnya to Papua, from Sudan to Azerbaijan and from Kenya to Columbia, many HRDs still face harassment and persecution and work with  minimum protection from the authorities. According to Hina Jilani’s report (2004) on human rights defenders in Indonesia there are concerns about the criminalisation of HRDs using  local or national laws; and there have been cases where HRDs have been subjected to intimidation and harassment.  When this occurs there is often a poor response from the state response and impunity for those responsible.  .

The human rights situation in Indonesia has seen many changes over the last 12 years.  There have been real improvements but there are also significant challenges remaining.  –On the one hand over the last 12 years of the political transition era (started in 1998) Indonesia has ratified 6 out of the 8 core international human rights conventions; made a positive amendment to the constitution in relation to the human rights chapter; and established several auxiliary institutions such as the National Human Rights Commissions.

On the other hand these improvements have not eliminated cases of human rights violations and not enough has been done to deal with past abuses properly and proportionally. One of the most shocking cases was the murder of Munir in 2004.  He was a prominent human rights activist in Indonesia and was poisoned on a flight to the Netherlands. Munir was very well known as the most prominent advocate for addressing impunity for cases of past abuse and in calling for security sector reform. For the last six years, Suciwati, the widow of Munir, has been pursuing justice for her husband. Even though public support for her cause is widespread and the President has described this as a ‘test-case’ for Indonesia those who master minded the murder have yet to be held to account. 

Other HRDs advocating for indigenous peoples’ and workers rights are facing challenges in their contacts with big business.  Large numbers of local community leaders have been arrested and criminalized using the Indonesian penal codes – some elements of which date back to Dutch times. Typically they have tried to campaign or negotiate with large corporations over palm oil plantations, fishing areas and land disputes. 

In recent years we are seeing more HRDs engaging in the anti-corruption effort.  There has been a corresponding increase in harassment of those activists that have exposed corruption scandals or campaigned against corrupt practice.   Their successes have sometimes been marked by shameful criminal accusations (such as defamation) or violence (eg ICW researchers).  Many journalists are also facing these problems.  In the second half of 2010 at least four journalists have died in mysterious circumstances in Indonesia, one of them in Papua.

The list can also be extended to other groups such as rights campaigners working on behalf of LGBTs, Women’s groups and other minorities who on many occasions have been targeted and persecuted by non-state actors . 

The on-going problem of impunity in Indonesia is leading to many victims of abuses becoming  Human Rights Defenders themselves.–  Many of them have realised that having a law on human rights does not automatically lead to  truth and justice for the victims. They are initiating their own campaigns on human rights issues: voicing their demands and promoting human rights messages. It is becoming clear that these people are actually leading the movement to further strengthen human rights environment in Indonesia. 

In the spirit of the International Human Rights day on10 December 2010 and referring to the spirit of the UN declaration on HRD, it is important that the people of Indonesia continue this fight – working with the UN and international community.   We must support and celebrate our Human Rights Defenders as they will play a crucial role in strengthening the effectiveness of our democracy and increasing the meaningful participation of the people in the governance of our country. 


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