ETAN condemns attack on
Jakarta human rights gathering
For more information contact: John M.
Miller, +1-917-690-4391; email@example.com
18, 2017 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network (ETAN) strongly condemns the
attacks against the Indonesian Legal Aid
Foundation (LBH) headquarters in Jakarta.
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
"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."
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.
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.
ETAN is "A voice
of reason, criticizing the administration's reluctance to
address ongoing human rights violations and escalating
oppression in West Papua and against religious minorities