Category Archives: Human Rights

Indonesian student dies in law-change protests

Yahoo – AFP, Denji Sari, September 26, 2019

The death appeared to mark the first fatality in days of street battles across
Indonesia (AFP Photo/STR)

An Indonesian student died Thursday as thousands hit the streets nationwide in a wave of opposition to a major overhaul of the country's criminal code and a bid to weaken its anti-corruption agency, police said.

The death appeared to mark the first fatality in days of street battles across the Southeast Asian country, which have left hundreds injured and sparked a call from Amnesty International to probe what it described as "massive police violence" against protesters.

The 21-year-old victim was rushed to hospital suffering from a chest wound and later died as riots erupted in Kendari city on Sulawesi island, where the local parliament was torched, authorities said.

But police denied playing a role in the death, amid social media claims that the engineering student was shot.

"There was an injured student among the crowd. He was taken to the hospital and declared dead as doctors tried to save him. He had a wound on his right chest, but I cannot confirm what kind of injury it was," Southeast Sulawesi police spokesman Harry Golden Hart told Metro TV.

Hundreds have been injured in the protests against a major overhaul of 
the country's criminal code (AFP Photo/Juni Kriswanto)

"None of our officers carried live bullets... or even rubber bullets," he added.

The unrest was sparked by a proposed bill that includes dozens of law changes -- from criminalising pre-marital sex and restricting sales of contraceptives, to making it illegal to insult the president.

There has also been a backlash against a separate bill that critics fear would dilute the powers of Indonesia's corruption-fighting agency -- known as the KPK -- including its ability to wire-tap graft suspects.

The demonstrations across the archipelago are among the biggest since mass street protests in 1998 brought down the three-decade Suharto dictatorship.

'Feedback'

Passage of the controversial changes has now been delayed.

The demonstrations across the archipelago are among the biggest since mass 
street protests in 1998 brought down the three-decade Suharto dictatorship
(AFP Photo/CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN)

And, on Thursday, President Joko Widodo appeared to backtrack on plans to press ahead with the anti-corruption agency law, saying he would consider revising it.

"There was a lot of feedback given to me" about the law, Widodo said during a televised press conference.

"Of course I'll consider (a revision) and after making a decision, I will announce it."

Earlier Thursday, officials said more than 500 students had been arrested after a night of street battles in downtown Jakarta between molotov-cocktail throwing protesters and riot police who shot tear gas into the crowds.

Meanwhile, a mass of students stormed and occupied the local parliament building in Sumatra's Padang city Wednesday.

Most of the Jakarta students were set free, but some were still being held after police found knives and other sharp weapons in their possession, police said.

Students have issued a list of demands including scrapping some of the 
criminal-code changes (AFP Photo/Bahauddin Raja BASO)

Students have issued a list of demands including scrapping some of the criminal-code changes, withdrawing troops from Indonesia's restive Papua region, and halting forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo that have unleashed toxic haze across Southeast Asia.

A vote on the criminal-code bill was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but Widodo has called for a delay in passing the controversial changes that could affect millions of Indonesians, including gay and heterosexual couples who might face jail for having sex outside wedlock, or having an affair.

Updating Indonesia's Dutch colonial-era criminal code has been debated for decades and appeared set to pass in 2018 before momentum fizzled out.

A renewed push this year, backed by Islamic groups, was met with a wave of criticism over what many saw as a draconian law that invaded the bedrooms of a nation with some 260 million people -- the fourth most populous on Earth.

Indonesia police fire tear gas at students protesting sex, graft laws

Yahoo – AFP, September 24, 2019

Protesters set fires and threw rocks at riot police in Makassar on Sulawesi
island to protest against a new criminal code law (AFP Photo/DAENG MANSUR)

Jakarta (AFP) - Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters outside Indonesia's parliament Tuesday as thousands demonstrated nationwide against a new criminal code that would, among other things, outlaw pre-marital sex and weaken the country's anti-graft agency.

Protesters covered their faces and scattered in all directions as chaos erupted in the centre of the sprawling capital, Jakarta.

Police also fired teargas at rock-throwing protesters in Makassar on Sulawesi island, while demonstrators broke down a barrier outside the governor's office in Semarang on Java island.

"(We) forcibly dispersed student because they were carrying out anarchist acts, damaging government property and throwing stones at police," said Dicky Sondani, a South Sulawesi police spokesman.

The police action came after flag- and placard-waving demonstrators gathered 
across the Southeast Asian archipelago (AFP Photo/ADEK BERRY)

The police action came after flag- and placard-waving demonstrators gathered across the Southeast Asian archipelago -- including in cultural capital Yogyakarta and holiday hotspot Bali -- for a second day in a row.

On Tuesday, lawmakers debated a wide-ranging legal overhaul including hundreds of new laws that would criminalise pre-marital sex, restrict sales of contraceptives, make it illegal to insult the president, and toughen the Muslim majority country's blasphemy laws.

"We want the bill which is being debated to be revised," said Jakarta university student Amel.

"The police were excessive teargassing us. We weren't being violent," he added.

A vote on the bill was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but President Joko Widodo last week called for a delay in passing the proposed changes after a public backlash.

Riot police used water cannon against protesters in Sulawesi (AFP Photo/
Andri SAPUTRA)

The mooted changes could affect millions of Indonesians, including gay and heterosexual couples who might face jail for having sex outside wedlock, or having an affair.

Widodo's call for a delay came as the Australian embassy in Jakarta issued a fresh travel advisory, warning that the legislation could put unmarried foreign tourists in the crosshairs.

Millions of tourists visit Bali and other beach destinations in the Southeast Asian nation.

Widodo this week stood firm on plans to pass a separate bill that critics fear would dilute the investigative powers of the corruption-fighting agency -- known as the KPK -- including its ability to wire-tap suspects.

The police action came after flag- and placard-waving demonstrators gathered 
across the Southeast Asian archipelago (AFP Photo/ADEK BERRY)

Updating Indonesia's criminal code, which dates back to the Dutch colonial era, has been debated for decades and appeared set to pass in 2018 before momentum fizzled out.

A renewed push this year, backed by conservative Islamic groups, was met with a wave of criticism over what many saw as a draconian law that invaded the bedrooms of a nation with some 260 million people -- the fourth most populous on Earth.

An online petition calling for the bill to be scrapped garnered half a million signatures, while hundreds of thousands took to social media to vent their frustration.

Abused Hong Kong maid Erwiana ‘rises again’

Yahoo - AFP, Agus Purwanto, 28 September 2018

Erwiana now works on behalf of migrant workers

She was once the face of abused maids in Hong Kong -- imprisoned, starved and beaten so badly she lost control of her bodily functions.

But four years after her horrific ordeal made global headlines, Indonesian Erwiana Sulistyaningsih is a university graduate and fighting for the rights of domestic helpers in the southern Chinese city and beyond.

Erwiana completed a degree in economics this month -- the culmination of a dream that brought her to Hong Kong in 2013 before her life was turned upside down.

"Before I went to Hong Kong, I had been dreaming I could make enough money to study," the 27-year-old told AFP from her home in Indonesia's cultural capital Yogyakarta.

"After the incident, I thought I might have to give up on that dream."

Erwiana's employer Law Wan-tung was jailed after pictures of her extensive injuries went viral in 2014.

Widespread media coverage of Erwiana's torture had one unexpected benefit -- she was offered scholarships to study.

"I'm happy but it's bittersweet because even though I graduated university there are still many migrant workers who are persecuted and treated badly," she said.

She chose economics partly to understand "why so many people in this world have to migrate" for work.

"People should be able to live peacefully in their own country without having to work abroad unprotected," she said.

Erwiana plans to take that message to demonstrations outside the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Bali next month.

Erwiana's horrific ordeal made global headlines

She now works on behalf of migrant workers, including pushing for the release of former Filipina maid Mary Jane Veloso who is on death row in Indonesia for drug smuggling.

Most domestic workers in Hong Kong are from poor communities in Indonesia and the Philippines and are vulnerable to abuse by employers and employment agencies.

Migrants from both countries have also suffered injury -- or worse -- in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

In February, the death of a Filipina maid in Kuwait, whose body was found this year stuffed in a freezer, sparked outrage in the Philippines.

Also this year, Indonesian domestic helper Adelina Sau died in hospital after being rescued from her employer's house in Malaysia's Penang state, with wounds covering her body. Her boss was charged with murder.

It is these stories that prompted Erwiana to fight for workers' rights, and never give up on herself even when she doubted her chances.

"I never imagined I'd be here -- I almost gave up," she said.

"I was so sick, I was a failed migrant worker and my injuries were all over the media.

"But because my family and fellow migrant worker friends gave me strength, I finally had the spirit to rise again."



Erwiana Sulistyaningsih arrives at the Wanchai Law Courts to begin giving
 evidence against her former employer who is accused of abuse and torture, in
Hong Kong on Monday. (AFP Photo/Isaac Lawrence)

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Kuwait, Philippines sign deal to regulate domestic labour

Yahoo – AFP, May 11, 2018

Filipino workers arrive to Manila International Airport from Kuwait on February 18,
2018, after the murder of a Philippine maid sent hundreds of women streaming
back home (AFP Photo/NOEL CELIS)

Kuwait City (AFP) - Kuwait and the Philippines signed a deal on Friday to regulate domestic workers, after a dispute between the two countries led to a ban on Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

"A short time ago we signed an agreement between the two countries on the employment of domestic workers," Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah told a joint press conference with his Filipino counterpart Alan Peter Cayetano.

In February Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a partial ban on workers travelling to Kuwait after a Filipina maid was murdered and her body found in a freezer.

The crisis deepened after Kuwaiti authorities in April expelled Manila's ambassador over video footage of Philippine embassy staff helping workers escape employers accused of mistreatment.

Cayetano said a new ambassador to Kuwait would soon be appointed and that he would advise Duterte to "immediately" lift the ban.

"I think the crisis is over. We will move on with the bilateral relations and we will resume normal ties with Kuwait," said an official with Cayetano's delegation.

He added that the agreement "gives a number of rights to Philippine workers".

A copy of the agreement seen by AFP says that workers will be allowed to keep their passports and cellphones -- often confiscated by employers.

It stipulates that contract renewals should be approved by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, instead of being automatically renewed.

Employers must provide domestic workers with food, housing, clothing and health insurance, according to the document.

About 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, 60 percent of them in domestic labour, according to Manila.

More than two million Filipinos are employed across the Gulf.

Rights groups have repeatedly urged Gulf states to reform their labour laws to cover domestic workers and provide them with "equal protections" available to other workers.

FM pleased RI elected to UN Rights Council

Antara News, Sat, May 21 2011

Related News

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said he was pleased that Indonesia has been elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2011-2014.

"The fact that Indonesia was elected with the biggest number of votes from UN members (184 out of the 191 votes cast) is an indication of the international world`s acknowledgment of our efforts to promote human rights protection both in the region or in international forums," the minister said here on Saturday.

Marty also said membership in UN Human Rights Council was a chance for Indonesia to play a more active role in promoting human rights protection in the world.

Indonesia had been a member of the UN Human Rights Council twice in the past, namely in the periods 2006-2007 and 2007-2010.

Last April 6, a representative from Indonesia read out the government`s voluntary pledges and commitments if the country was accepted as a UN Human Rights Council member for the period 2011-2014.

In its pledges Indonesia would continue to strengthen its human rights observance mechanisms at national, provincial, district and municipal levels while also improving the level of coordination among government authorities in the spirit of strengthening human rights enforcement.

Indonesia also promised to continue to strengthen the work of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights for the promotion and protection of human rights in the region and continue to work and fully cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms.

Up till now, the council has 46 members, namely Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway and Pakistan.

Other members are Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Zambia.



‘Get a Fire’: Kindeman Gire Video

A video of the torture of two Christian ministers in Indonesian Papua, likely taken in March 2010 in the Puncak Jaya area, the two men being Reverend Kindeman Gire and Reverend Pltinius Kogoya, both of the native Kingmi Church.

The torture, apparently carried out by Kostrad battalion 753 based in Nabire, shows Reverend Kindeman Gire being held down while soldiers deliberately apply a burning hot stick to his penis, among many other highly graphic and disturbing scenes:

The video was originally posted on Youtube with the title "Get a fire", but has since been removed; in the probable case that the version above is removed from Youtube, it can be downloaded at https://www.fpcn-global.org/films/mov/brutal_Kostrad_torture_in_West_Papua-320x240_H264.mov. More information on the story can be read at http://westpapuamedia.info/.

Another just recently released video of TNI forces on patrol in West Papua, of uncertain date:

‘Get a Fire’: Kindeman Gire Video is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book domestic flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesia hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Excesses of democracy must be corrected: SBY

Antara News, Monday, September 6, 2010 02:12 WIB

Bogor, W Java (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that negative excesses in carrying out the democratic system must be corrected to preserve the country`s ideal reforms.

In his address during a fast-breaking dinner with leaders of political parties in coalition with the government at his Puri Cikeas residence, Bogor, West Java, on Monday evening, the president said that all sides must take part in correcting them if there were deviations from democracy.

"There are excesses in carrying out democracy, including in the implementation of regional head elections. We should not remain silent if there are excesses. We should improve it together," Yudhoyono said.

The head of state said that the Indonesian people had passed the first phase of their reforms that began since 1998. The democratic system had been established yet it did not mean that there were no longer shortcomings.

"In practice there are deviations in the implementation of decentralization. Let`s improve it. That should not mean that the authoritarian system should be revived because democracy, human rights and decentralization are our reforms agenda," he said.

He said that efforts to build consensus and national system were not the monopoly of political elite only but also of the public as well through discussions and discourses so that all parties would take part in the formation of the national system for the future of Indonesia.

"I am glad if political parties also think about it. We are all players and stakeholders. The government, the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) may not monopolize anything. We should open access wide for the public," he said.

On the occasion, the president also expressed the need for consensus for Indonesia as a basis for its advancement such as the consensus owned by the United States and China.

Big names

The Jakarta Post, Antara | Fri, 08/27/2010 1:59 PM


Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar (sixth left) leads a press conference at the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Friday after a selection committee for the new chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) gave two candidate names to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The committee chose Judicial Commission chairman Muhammad Busyro Muqoddas and human rights activist Bambang Widjojanto out of seven final candidates. Antara/PAndu Dewantara


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Indonesian Prisons

Management of prisons vis a vis human rights obligations and the life of a woman on remand.


In Indonesia, the Constitution (Undang-Undang Dasar 1945) acknowledges at least 15 human rights principles:

  • self-determination (Preamble and article 1),
  • citizenship (article 26),
  • equality before the law (article 27),
  • work (article 27),
  • decent life (article 27),
  • association (article 28),
  • express an opinion (article 28),
  • religion (article 29),
  • national defense (article 30),
  • education (article 31),
  • social welfare (article 33),
  • social security (article 34),
  • independent judiciary (elucidation of articles 24 and 25),
  • preserve cultural traditions (elucidation of article 32),
  • and preserve local language (elucidation of article 31)

Indonesia is also an elected member of United Nations Human Rights Council, but the way it manages its prisons is horrific.

Someone I know (who is a university graduate) is in prison (on the island of Java) since March 12, 2010. She hasn’t been sentenced yet after three court appearances. She is charged with financial fraud. (she worked for a financial institution, her boss got away with using a ponzi scheme and blamed my sister in law who was promptly arrested)

She tells me that she was beaten up by female guards for being "too arrogant" and not "submissive", that food brought in by family members is taken away by the female guards, and that her cell mates (women) only allow her to eat the left overs from their plate.

When I visited her last week we spent too much time in the visiting room, and after I left, my sister in law was again beaten up by the female guards for talking too much to a BULE (westerner).

I paid 1 million rupiah to the guards so that she would be allowed to use a mobile phone. After three days, her mobile phone was taken away.

Turning now to the judge: he blatantly told the lawyer that he wants 35 million rupiah, while the "jaksa" (state prosecutor) wanted 5 million rupiah.

When is Indonesia, the country I live in and that I love, going to do something about the horrible conditions in its prisons?

At this point, the Indonesian government leadership seem to be wearing their best tuxedos while smiling meaningfully to look good on paper and to make strong political statements that Indonesia is a country where human rights are guaranteed and respected. We, the people, must make sure that those are not killers’ smiles and torturers’ faux friendliness.

Indonesian Prisons is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book domestic flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesia hotels, like Kuta hotels, Ubud hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Law talk

The Jakarta Post, Antara | Tue, 05/04/2010 1:38 PM

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) speaks with (from left) National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri, Attorney General Hendarman Supandji, Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar and Supreme Court chief Harifin A. Tumpa after opening a consultation and coordination meeting on legal affairs at the State Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday morning. Antara/Widodo S. Jusuf