URGENT: Early Notice Regarding the Possibility of the Persecution of the Executive Coordinator of KontraS and Lokataru, Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar | KONTRAS

URGENT: Early Notice Regarding the Possibility of the Persecution of the Executive Coordinator of KontraS and Lokataru, Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar

The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)—a human rights non-governmental organization based in Jakarta, Indonesia— would like to give early notice for accommodating safe space for the possibility of the persecution of Executive Director of Lokataru, Haris Azhar, and Coordinator of KontraS, Fatia Maulidiyanti.

On August 26, 2021, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, gave a subpoena to Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti through their attorney Juniver Girsang & Partners regarding a talk show on Haris Azhar’s youtube channel with the title “Ada Lord Luhut dibalik Relasi Ekonomi-Ops Militer Intan Jaya!! Jenderal BIN Juga Ada!!” (There is Lord Luhut behind the Economic Relations-Military Operations Intan Jaya!! The General of the State Intelligence Agency is also there!!).

In the video, Haris and Fatia discussed the research results of several organizations, such as KontraS, Walhi, Jatam, YLBHI, and Pusaka, about the business of Indonesian Army officials and retirees behind the gold mining business or planned to exploit the Blok Wabu area in Intan Jaya, Papua. In the subpoena, Haris and Fatia were asked to explain to Luhut the motive for posting the video. In addition, both of them were asked to apologize in 5 days to Luhut through Haris Azhar’s Youtube channel, mass media, and online media and promised not to repeat the act. If the request is not made, Luhut’s legal counsel will take legal steps.

In the last three years, the illegal deployment of Indonesian military forces in the central highlands of Papua Province has triggered an escalation of armed conflict between the police-military and West Papua National Liberation Army and violence and terror against civilians, especially in Intan Jaya Regency. Spatial analysis revealed how the location of military and police posts around the mining concessions were identified as being connected either directly or indirectly with the generals.

This was revealed in the report “Economic-Political of Military Placement in Papua: The Case of Intan Jaya” launched by YLBHI, WALHI National Executive, Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, WALHI Papua, LBH Papua, KontraS, JATAM, Greenpeace Indonesia, Trend Asia, together with #BersihkanIndonesia. The researchers conducted a quick study of illegal military operations in Papua using a political-economic perspective. This study also indicates the relationship between company concessions and the deployment of the military in Papua by taking one case in Intan Jaya Regency.

Luhut will use the articles in the Electronic Information and Transactions Law (UU ITE) Article 27 paragraph (3) about defamation if Fatia and Haris do not apologize for the allegations regarding the statement. Luhut will also use two articles in the Criminal Code (KUHP). He said he would use Article 310 about attacking someone’s honor or reputation with accusations and Article 311 about defamation.

It is important to emphasize that KontraS, Lokataru, and other civil society organizations are carrying out their duties to supervise the running of the government process. Other civil society organizations commonly do this as a form of participation to ensure clean governance and free from corruption, collusion, and nepotism. It is essential to work as the government is never really open with the information regarding the situation in Papua; they only focus on the development and simultaneously ignore the deterioration of human rights. Besides, the problem in Papua is not only the development, but also a multilayered problem from development, environment, and fundamental rights. Moreover, they expressed their opinion in research based on scientific studies supported by data and facts. Thus, it would not be wrong to say that Luhut’s steps, both cease and desist letter and intention to proceed with further legal proceedings, were inappropriate and excessive actions.

It also becomes our concern that the government officials tend to abuse their power with the Electronic, Information, and Transaction Law to trap activists or human rights defenders in speaking out about the human rights situation in Indonesia. At the beginning of August, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) staff experienced a similar thing; being threatened with the mentioned law for expressing concern regarding Covid-19 medicines sales. Nevertheless, these two incidents follow many previous cases of human rights defenders threatened with the mentioned law, including Ravio Patra.

From the legal aspect, referring to the media coverage, there is a faulty construction in interpreting the legal violation aspect of the statement. It is essential to explain if it is interpreted as a defamation offense as regulated in the Information and Electronic Transaction Law in conjunction with the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code contains relevant justifications for the research, namely Article 310 paragraph (3) of the Criminal Code: it does not constitute defamation if the act is carried out in the public interest.

The Joint Decree of the Minister of Communication and Information, the Attorney General, and the National Police Chief regarding Guidelines for the Implementation of the Electronic Information and Transaction Law also explains that Article 27 paragraph (3) section (c) states that it is not a defamation offense if the content is in the form of an assessment or evaluation result. The statement issued by Fatia and Haris was born from a study that has clear methods, data, and references; of course, this has fulfilled these requirements because it has passed the assessment and evaluation process on an issue that is of public concern.

Because of the potential for the persecution of freedom of expression, we request your organization to:

Fully support in the protection of the rights of human rights defenders in Indonesia;
Monitor and assist the legal process by providing legal memos on human rights defenders’ criminalization and human rights defenders status to Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar;
If the situation is escalated, support the security measure and relocation for human rights defenders who have the potential to be persecuted; 

Last, we request your organization to urge the government of Indonesia to:

Mr. Joko Widodo to urge Mr. Luhut to withdraw the threat of cease and desist against Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar;
The National Commission of Human Rights and other auxiliary bodies create a unique desk for human rights defenders at risk;
Provide a preventive action on criminalization against human rights defenders and take corrective measures for the abuse of authority of state officials who intimidate the public;
Withdraw every discriminative and repressive regulation towards freedom of expression and attack against human rights defenders.

Jakarta, August 30, 2021
Fatia Maulidiyanti
Executive Coordinator

For further information, please contact Ms. Auliya Rayyan, International Advocacy Officer, at +628998443242 or rae@kontras.org.

Auliya Rayyan
International Advocacy Division
Phone: +628998443242
Jalan Kramat II nomor 7, Jakarta 10420, Indonesia

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