Category: Human Rights

Dr Budi Hernawan has analysed 431 cases of torture that occurred in Papua between 1963 and 2010. He writes that although torture is generally considered a hidden crime, in Papua it is performed for an audience, sometimes spectacularly, and is designed to convey a message of terror from state authorities to the Papuan public. It is part of a larger strategy of domination by the Indonesian state, he says, in which the practice of torture is sanctioned and part of policy.

While Indonesia has seen a decline in state violence since the collapse of the New Order, non-state violence, particularly toward minorities, appears to have increased. This has contributed to restriction of civil liberties, and poses challenges for democratic reform. In Talking Indonesia this week, Dr Ken Setiawan chats to Dr Budi Hernawan about the shrinking space for civil liberties.

Last week, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) released a report confirming what many in the human rights community had suspected for years – members of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) have been embezzling public funds. Dr Ken Setiawan looks at the factors within Komnas HAM that have allowed this to occur.

What roles are played by religion and culture in perceptions of disability in Indonesia and how do these perceptions influence policy? What is being done, or should be done, to promote inclusion of people with disability? In Talking Indonesia this week, Dr Ken Setiawan discusses these issues and more with leading disability advocate Slamet Thohari, from Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java.

Last week, the government announced it would seek to ban three gay social networking apps, following the alleged misuse of Grindr in a child prostitution case. Hendri Yulius writes that the bans are representative of the government’s struggle to maintain power and authority in the internet era and show that the rapid development of information technology does not necessarily lead to advances in freedom of expression.

Indonesia’s indigenous peoples face serious challenges, including insecure rights to land and lack of recognition of their traditional religions. How are these issues being addressed, and what regional differences have to be taken into account? Dr Ken Setiawan explores these questions and more with Sandra Moniaga, from Komnas HAM, in the latest Talking Indonesia podcast.

President Joko Widodo has already shown signs that human rights will not be a top priority for his government. But as Christian Donny Putranto writes, few of Jokowi’s passionate campaigners would have ever imagined that two years after his election his administration would promote military officials involved in abducting pro-democracy activists to senior positions in security agencies.

Last week, the judges of the International People’s Tribunal 1965 released their final report, finding the Indonesian state responsible for crimes against humanity. But what is the standing of the IPT and what impact might its findings have? Associate Professor Katharine McGregor and Dr Jemma Purdey examine the fallout from the report’s release.

More than a year after 1,000 Rohingya asylum seekers arrived on the shores of North Aceh, few have been resettled in western countries. The fact that many Rohingya are poor and illiterate means they are not considered a priority. Lies Marcoes found that the global indifference to their plight may be driving them to join the Islamic State.

Although freedom of religion and freedom of expression are guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution, these guarantees have not been sufficient to protect non-religious expression in the public sphere. Ismail Hasani looks back at the case of Alexander An, jailed for writing “God does not exist” in a Facebook post.

Over the past couple of weeks, security officials have confiscated books on the 1965 violence and leftist ideas to prevent what they describe as a “reawakening of communism”. Hendri Yulius looks at the long history of book banning and book burning in Indonesia and examines what this recent episode means for freedom of expression in the country.

On 18-19 April, Indonesia held an unprecedented national symposium to discuss the violence of 1965, involving victims, activists, and government and military officials. Associate Professor Katharine McGregor and Dr Jemma Purdey present a detailed analysis of last week’s events.