Asia-Pacific Report Press Office
The government responded with a counterattack to a report critical of human rights practices in Indonesia, released by the United States last week.
This response is seen as a bad sign of the state of human rights in Indonesia.
The US government has published its annual report titled 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Indonesia on the official website of the US Embassy for Indonesia.
The report discusses a number of cases of human rights violations in Indonesia in 2021.
A number of cases have been highlighted, including:
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry responded to the report with innuendo.
Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah questioned the United States’ record of human rights abuses.
“Aren’t there human rights cases in the United States? Serious?” Faizasyah asked CNN Indonesia.
Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam) Mahfud MD also commented on several cases covered in the report.
One of them was government surveillance of citizens through the covid-19 tracing app PeduliThe Indungi (Care and protect).
Mahfud responded with assertions about the government’s achievements in fighting the covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia, saying it had performed better than the United States.
“If by some parts of the world, Indonesia is considered very good, much better than America in dealing with covid,” Mahfud said in a video recording on the Menko Polhukam Youtube channel.
Don’t want to take criticism
Ujang Komarudin, a political commentator from Al-Azhar University in Indonesia, credits the government’s counterattack to the fact that it is unwilling to accept criticism from foreign parties.
He said the government believed it was being dictated by the United States through the report.
According to Komarudin, the government wanted to reassert its authority in the public eye and because of this, strong denials were transmitted to the United States.
“They made these denials in order to safeguard the credibility of the government which is currently being questioned by the public,” Komarudin said last Sunday.
Komarudin also believes that the government does not consider itself at fault in cases of alleged human rights abuses. He believes that this type of political communication is a bad sign for the state of democracy and human rights in Indonesia.
“Because it’s like there’s no problem, like there’s nothing wrong. This is what our officials are currently doing,” he said.
Deputy Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Rivanlee Anandar, said that each year the government responds to reports of human rights abuses issued by the United States by denials.
With these denials, Anandar suspected the government of trying to cover up the human rights abuses that had occurred. He fears that this response is a reflection on the handling of human rights cases in the future.
“It shows an insensitivity to the report, trying to cover up the problems in Indonesia by sending the problem to the United States. We fear this will only make the situation worse,” Anandar told CNN Indonesia.
Anandar said the report should be used as material for proper assessment by the government. He believes that the government should reflect on the report.
Especially since this report will be a reference for countries concerned about human rights in the reading of future trends. According to Anandar, other countries will see Indonesia based on this report.
Anandar cited as an example the cases of civil liberties violations that have been marked by police repression. In the report, the United States said these violations were triggered by government policies that resulted in massive protest actions.
“This is the pattern that can be observed and needs to be corrected in the future by ensuring that there are no more discriminatory policies,” he said.
Don’t have to answer
Commissioner of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), Beka Ulung Hapsara, said the report represents how the United States views human rights issues in Indonesia. According to Hapsara, the government had its own resolution and rehabilitation mechanism that could still be used.
“It requires an official response but not as an obligation. The government and all of us can of course use the US foreign affairs report for an assessment, but not as an obligation,” Hapsara told CNN Indonesia.
Hapsara said several of the cases cited in the US report had been brought to the attention of Komnas HAM, such as the assassination of FPI members and cases involving the Electronic Information and Transactions Act (ITE).
“Several cases have been of concern to Komnas HAM and Komnas HAM has been actively involved in them, both in terms of monitoring and investigations and other efforts,” he said.
Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. Subtitles added during translation. The original title of the article was Laporan HAM AS dan Upaya Pemerintah Jaga Kredibilitas.