ETAN condemns attack on Jakarta human rights gathering
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ETAN condemns attack on Jakarta human rights gathering

For more information contact:
John M. Miller, +1-917-690-4391; john@etan.org

Sept. 18, 2017 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) strongly condemns the recent attacks against the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) headquarters in Jakarta.


The hardline groups of today are alarmingly similar to the paramilitaries of the New Order regime. Indonesia must learn from the past and ensure that this time these groups do not enjoy any impunity.

"ETAN is shocked and saddened to see such brazen attacks against a peaceful gathering of civil society in Indonesia's capital," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "We join others in Indonesia and around the world in calling on the Indonesian government to prosecute those responsible for the violence and take immediate steps to end the thuggish threats against Indonesian civil society."

"The events over the past weekend are a leap backwards in Indonesia's transition from military dictatorship to democracy," said ETAN's National Coordinator John M. Miller. "The hardline groups of today are alarmingly similar to the paramilitaries of the New Order regime. Indonesia must learn from the past and ensure that this time these groups do not enjoy any impunity."

"Freedom of speech and assembly are central to democracy," added Miller. "Indonesia needs more, not less, discussion of past human rights violations. Furthermore, the victims of those crimes from 1965 on need justice."

Background

Mob outside of offices of LBH.  
Crowd outside LBH offices. Photo via @LBH_Jakarta.  
Hundreds of self-proclaimed anti-communists began demonstrating at the LBH building on Saturday, September 16, against a planned discussion between survivors of the 1965-1967 massacres and their allies. Fueled by an online smear campaign, suspected members of hardline groups gathered outside the office and claimed those inside were members of the long-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

After police cancelled the planned discussion, LBH-Jakarta responded by quickly organizing a cultural event on Sunday, September 17 titled "Asik Asik Aksi: Darurat Demokrasi" [Fun and Action: Democratic Emergency]. After a few hours of music and poetry, the participants found they were unable to safely leave the building as it had been surrounded by an increasingly angry mob.

Despite a heavy police and military presence, the mob terrorized those trapped inside for hours, chanting anti-communist slogans, death threats, and throwing rocks and bottles. After midnight the police began using tear gas against the protesters, and in the early hours of September 18 those inside the LBH building were finally able to leave. In contrast to the increasingly heavy-handed approach towards peaceful protests organized by Papuan independence supporters, reports on social media indicate state security forces showed reluctance to confront the so-called anti-communist protesters. Although hundreds are regularly detained in Jakarta and Jayapura when peacefully protesting human rights violations in Papua, only five people were arrested on suspicion of provoking the violence.

The LBH building in Cikini houses two of Indonesia's most prominent civil society organizations, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (Y-LBHI) and the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), which engage in human rights legal advocacy and provide legal support for poor and marginalized groups. The building is centrally located and its facilities are often shared with other civil society organizations.

see also

Human Rights & Justice page

Indonesia and West Papua Struggles

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