Posts Tagged ‘Presidential election’

What ‘Jokowi 2.0’ means for human rights in Indonesia

April 21, 2019

In anticipation of the final result of the Indonesian presidential election on 22 May, which seems to have been won by sitting President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (now with a senior Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his vice president), Asmin Fransiska, Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir, and Lailatul Fitriyah give in EconoTimes of 21 April 2019 their views on what that means for human rights:

Asmin Fransiska, Lecturer in Human Rights Law, Universitas Katolik Indonesia Atma Jaya

In 2014, Jokowi won the presidential election by promising to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. For four and a half years the Jokowi government failed to keep this promise. Jokowi should use his second victory to keep his promises.Indonesia’s 2017 Universal Periodic Review by the UN , shows that the government must address a number of human rights issues, for example, violence carried out by security forces, especially in remote areas, such as Papua, and cases of torture, and violence against women, children and minority groups.

…..As a first step, Jokowi and his new vice president, Ma’ruf Amin, must evaluate the Attorney General’s performance who for four years failed to bring human rights criminals to justice as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission….

Jokowi needs to balance the priorities of infrastructure development with environmental protection and corruption eradication. These two things are a prerequisite for development that values human rights. Indicators of human rights-friendly development include environmental preservation, protection of indigenous peoples and vulnerable communities, and high public participation in the development process from the beginning to the end.


Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir, PhD Candidate in Politics, University of Melbourne, Lecturer in Sociology, Universitas Negeri Jakarta

In my opinion not much will change in terms of civil liberties protection in Jokowi’s second term if the constellation of power supporting the Jokowi government remains the same. …..The existence of retired generals allegedly involved in human rights violations as well as those connected with mining companies in Jokowi’s circle of power will hinder efforts to resolve not only past atrocities but also agrarian conflicts. The number of land conflict victims from agriculture, mining and infrastructure development activities will likely increase. State repression and civilian violence against discussions, film screenings and meetings that criticise the business relationships of people around Jokowi as well as those advocating for the interests of marginalised groups will continue.

Meanwhile, civil society efforts to prevent the military from intervening in civilian matters will continue to face challenges. The case of Robertus Robet, an activist and academic who was recently arrested during a rally for singing a song that criticised the military, for example, is likely to be left unresolved but will serve as a warning. The use of identity politics will still be dominant given that the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Gerindra seemed to gain significant votes and will remain in opposition. Moreover, they also have strong candidates, such as current Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, Sandiaga Uno or other PKS officials for the 2024 presidential election. The two parties will likely continue using religious identity narratives that will reproduce and sharpen polarisation in society to consolidate their power. As before, Jokowi’s camp will also respond to the attacks using similar narratives, with minority groups taking the brunt.


Lailatul Fitriyah, PhD Candidate in Theology, University of Notre Dame

……..In other words, in the context of human rights, voters choose Jokowi on the principle of ‘the best of the worst’. Jokowi was elected because he did not have any record of human rights abuse, that’s all. Another aspect of Jokowi 2.0 era, which human rights activists will closely monitor, is his running mate, Ma’ruf Amin. Ma’ruf Amin’s popularity does not come from his commitment to inclusiveness, but his traditional support base as the senior cleric of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation. In the long term, Ma’ruf Amin must serve not only his Muslim base, but also other segments of Indonesian society, especially those from marginal groups.

Ma’ruf should change his perspective. In his role as an Islamic scholar, he has alienated minority groups, including, Syi’ah, Ahmadiyah and LGBTIQ. As Vice President, Ma’ruf must act as a public official with the obligation to protect the rights of all Indonesian people, irrespective of race, ethnicity, sexuality or religion/non-religion. For Jokowi’s second term, the sacrificing of minority rights to gain popular votes will no longer be acceptable. Jokowi should protect minority groups who, although they had lived within the structure of systemic violence under his first term, have shown they still trusted him for a second term in office.

See also my recent:–what-does-that-mean-for-human-rights-1527148

Editorial “Waiting for Lefty” regrets absence of human rights concern in debate

October 18, 2012

In an editorial “Waiting for Lefty”, William Fisher (former government official – muses about the final debate between Obama and Romney and concludes that there was a glaring lack of reference to the human rights issues that dominated the first election campaign. The relevant part reads:

Obama started out in 2010 with the electoral wind at his back. On his first day in office he vowed to close the military prison at Guantnamo Bay, where detainees slated to have been released months — years — ago are still there, exactly where they started and no closer to freedom for the innocent. Scary because they weren’t released. Except the ones who committed suicide. They’re back home now.

When the electoral air was all filled with “hope and change” and “yes, we can, “Was Obama simply pandering to the Left — whose votes were a big help in getting him elected? After all, if he threw them all under a bus at this stage, where could they go? Vote for Romney? No way. Not vote at all? A possibility.

More disenchanted bodies widening the enthusiasm gap — and that could cost the president his job in a close election. And if he beats Romney, he will have to contend, in his second term, with a large and growing gaggle of organizations that have only one overarching interest — the restoration of human rights and the return to the rule of law.

But in a second Obama term, I would not expect hundreds of groups like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and Human Rights First — and thousands of individual human rights defenders –– to be quite so patient and seemingly understand as their first-term counterparts.

OpEdNews – Article: Waiting for Lefty.

US-based NGOs enter presidential race with recommendations on HRDs

August 10, 2012

Back from a long break, I start with a substantive post although I dod not have to do much writing. Last week 22 human rights organizations – including the 3 on the Jury of the MEA: AI, HRW, HRF – issued a common report listing the ten most pressing issues for the next US President. Stewart M. Patrick of the Council of Foreign Relations in his blog the Internationalist made my life easy by summarizing the point (see his: For the text of point 4 relating to HRDs, go to the full document in PDF:

1)      Prioritize U.S. leadership on international norms and universality of human rights: Despite the flaws of multilateral bodies like the UN Human Rights Council, they provide crucial legitimacy to U.S. pressure for human rights. Notably, the report points out that engagement is necessary, however frustrating it may be: “By withdrawing from these institutions or restricting funding, the United States forfeits its leadership…and undermines of [sic] its ability to advance its own interests.”

2)      Act to prevent genocide and mass atrocities and ensure accountability: The next president should build on the painstaking progress that NGOs and governments have achieved over the past decades by sustaining political will and “matching resources to rhetoric…The next administration should support the APB [Atrocities Prevention Board] and provide it with the necessary resources.” In addition, going it with others, versus going it alone, lends legitimacy to U.S. atrocity-prevention efforts and helps defray suspicions that the United States is purely acting  for self-interested political reasons.

3)      Pursue policies that protect people from the threat of terrorism while respecting human rights both at home and abroad: Balancing human rights and terrorist prevention remains an enormous challenge. Specifically, the report recommends two steps: end indefinite detention without charge or trial, and publicly clarify the criteria for lethal targeting and rendition. While terrorism understandably prompts desire for urgent and harsh action, sacrificing human rights at home and abroad carries dangerous, long-term consequences.

4)      Oppose the coordinated global assault on civil society, including the murder, criminalization, and vilification of human rights defenders: This is not a simple task, but the authors offer five actionable steps to mitigate the worst effects of repressive regimes from Ethiopia to Belarus to Venezuela, such as U.S. funding to civil society and media organizations and guidelines for U.S. agencies to support human rights defenders.

5)      Proactively address the democracy and human rights opportunities and challenges presented by the Arab Uprisings: Among a number of recommendations, the report notes that the Obama administration’s “limited pressure for reform” toward Arab monarchies has been disappointing, and that the next administration should condition military aid to Bahrain on progress toward political reform, more forcefully pressure Egypt’s military to transfer power to an elected government, and step up diplomatic and economic pressure on Syria’s Assad regime.

6)      Ensure that corporations avoid contributing to human rights violations in their operations and through their supply chains: The ten actionable steps presented in the report provide feasible options to reduce horrifying violations of human rights in many corporation’s global supply chains. They include implementation of the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and ensuring that it “is not amended to erode the core intent of the law” as well as releasing “final rules for Sections 1502 and 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act” (PDF) and implementing the law “in line with congressional intent.”

7)      Bolster accountability and access to services and justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence: The horrors of mass rapes, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, “so-called ‘honor killings,’ ” forced marriage, and domestic violence require a “deeper and more thorough response.” Along with continuing to press for accountability and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for gender-based crimes perpetrated by U.S. government employees or contractors, the next administration should “expand support for international programs that increase access to health care, educational opportunities, and judicial institutions for girls and women” and increase visas for victims of gender-based violence.

8)      Review the United States’ relationships and alliances with governments that violate human rights:  This has consistently been one of the most difficult lines to walk. Regarding relationships with authoritarian regimes, the authors argue that “Washington policymakers often underestimate the political and moral capital America has, or refuse to use it.” They add, “Despite the recognition that the United States’ largely uncritical partnerships with repressive regimes in the Middle East undermined long-term U.S. interests, old mistakes are being repeated around the world. The United States has largely neglected human rights as it collaborated on counterterrorism with Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and other authoritarian partners.” Therefore, the authors call on the next U.S. president to review U.S. relations with authoritarian governments with a fresh perspective. In addition, U.S. diplomats on the ground should engage with democracy activists or civil society groups. The administration should also introduce targeted visa bans and asset freezes on foreign government officials implicated in rights violations.

9)      Support international justice and accountability for human rights violators present in the United States: To reduce impunity for gross violations of international law, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the United States must support accountability for leaders or compatriots who carry out heinous abuses. As I have written previously, the false peace-justice tradeoff is no reason to go easy on the most violent dictators. To further this progress, the report urges the next administration to “close legal loopholes in the federal war-crimes law and press for crimes against humanity committed abroad to be a federal crime so human rights violators in the United States can be held to account.”

10)   Support policies at home and abroad that respect the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, and immigrants: The authors lament that the United States “has failed, in a number of ways, to protect the human rights of refugees and migrants.” Regrettably, the report continues, “the United States detained nearly 400,000 asylum seekers and immigrants last year, often without individual assessments or prompt court review of detention” and the list goes on of documented U.S. violations of migrant and refugee rights, as confirmed by both bipartisan domestic reviews and international observer missions. As the report lays out, the next administration must reform the U.S. immigration detention system, stop fostering racial profiling through immigration enforcement, and ensure accountability for human rights abuses by the Border Patrol and at points of entry. Protecting human rights must start at home.