The Responsibility of the State to Guarantee the Safety and Integrity of Human Rights Defenders

03 April 2002

Joint Statement


Police Photo: Sven Hansen

The brutal attack of the civilian militia against members of the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) on March 29, 2002 in front of the office of the National Commission of Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM) is again another a physical assault against human rights defenders of the civil society. In Jakarta alone three similar incidents had to recorded in March 2002: the destruction of the office and the attack against the members of KONTRAS (13.3.2002), the attack against members of the UPC during their protests in front of the City Hall of Greater Jakarta (DKI Jakarta) and now the incident at the office of KOMNAS HAM. The National Commission of Human Rights itself, as national institution of Human Rights and set up the government, has frequently been the target and victim of attacks and destruction. Similar pattern of physical attacks and violence become also visible now in various other places and regions in Indonesia.

In all three incidents the police as the responsible security force was not able either to prevent the violence or to protect the citizens from the aggression of the attackers after the violence broke out. Several policemen and some auxiliary forces were present at the incident at the City Hall on March 13, however they just looked on when the militia of the FBR (Forum Betawi Rempug) tore down the posters of the UPC group. At the event in the court of the KOMNAS HAM office the security forces should have anticipated the possibility of violent attacks, since the FBR had publicly announced its action before they actually attacked the protesters of UPC. As it is evident from similar occurrences of violent attacks in various regions of the country, the pattern of these attacks shows a new strategy to playing off groups of the population against each other. If this strategy is not halted, more violent incidents of horizontal conflicts will spread, manipulating and misusing ethnic and religious identities and other primordial orientations. The underlying conflict, made visible by these incidents and the events in Poso, Maluku, Sanggau (West Kalimantan), East Timor and elsewhere is the competition and power struggle within the political and economic elite to secure the access to natural and economic resources and political key positions. In a cruel and unfair manner these groups use their power and money to whip up parts of the same poor population against each other and make them victims. Without the efficent action of the security forces to prevent this kind of incidents and to protect the citizens from such attacks even more people will become the victims of violence. The practice described above is a far step back from any effort to strengthen the process of democratisation and to honour and to protect the principles of human rights and people’s sovereignty in the life of this society and nation. Based on the above facts and considerations, we urge: 1. the police to investigate and find the actors behind the attacks on citizens and human rights activists, and to reveal their network which has conducted practice of provocation, playing off one against another, and payment in the field. 2. The police as a civilian security apparatus, namely the Chief of the National Police (Kapolri) and Regional Police Chief (Kapolda) and their officers, must exercise their authority to its fullest extent. They must take concrete actions to disclose the case. This means bringing the actors to the court and giving harsh sanctions to officers proven to have failed in preventing and taking the safety measures on the three incidents mentioned above. 3. The police as the state security apparatus should be independent from all forms of outside intervention and political and financial pressures. This is a mandate from the people and a role they must take up seriously in solving the above incidents. Jakarta, 3 April 2002

On behalf of the civil society groups

Bakti Pertiwi, Berantas, BPSDM Surakarta, CCDE Banda Aceh, Forum Pemerhati Masalah Perempuan Sulsel, Elsam, Fakta, FKGMNU, FNPBI, FPPI, Gerakan Anti Mobil Mewah (GAMM), Gerakan Sayang Siswa Sulsel, ICEL, ICW, INFID, INSIST Yogyakarta, ISJ, JARI Indonesia, Jaringan Kerja Lembaga Pelayanan Kristen (JKLPK), Kalyanamitra, Kelompok Konsumen Antang dan Banta-bantaeng Sulsel, Kembang Pala, Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia untuk Keadilan dan Demokrasi, Koalisi Perempuan Wilayah Sulsel, KM IAIN Jakarta, Komnas Perempuan, Komnas Perlindungan Anak, KONTRAS, Seknas-KOPBUMI, KPP PRD, LBH APIK, LBH APIK Makasar, LBH Jakarta, LBH Rakyat, LMND, PBHI, Pelangi Indonesia, Sanggar Ciliwung, Serikat Becak Jakarta (Sebaja), Serikat Buruh Jabotabek (SBJ), SHMI, SIKAP, Solidaritas Perempuan Angin Mamiri, Tri Giri Asih, UPC, Watch Indonesia!, WALHI Jakarta, WALHI Nasional, YLKI, WALHI Sulawesi Tengah, Yayasan Air Kalimantan Selatan, YLK Sulsel, Yayasan KOS Sulsel, individu-individu peduli dari berbagai wilayah Indonesia. (English translation prepared by INFID European Liaison Office)

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