Indonesian minister’s attempt to gag activists fires
An international advocacy group has condemned what they say is a blatant attempt by a government minister to silence and persecute two human rights activists for speaking out about military affairs in Papua.
Fatia Maulidiyanti, coordinator of the Commission for the Missing and Victims of Violence and Haris Azhar, Executive Director of the Lokataru Legal Aid Agency were threatened with legal action by the coordinating minister of maritime affairs and investments, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan , regarding a talk show they participated in. it alluded to his involvement in mining in the Intan Jaya district of Papua.
Luhut is also a retired army general and has served in the region.
In the talk show entitled “There is Lord Luhut behind the economic relations-military operations Intan Jaya!” Uploaded to Azhar’s Youtube channel, they discussed the findings of a recent report which revealed how the location of military and police posts around Intan Jaya’s mining concessions was identified as being directly or with the generals of the Indonesian Army and the relationship between company concessions and military deployment.
In the video, it was claimed that Luhut owns shares in the PT Toba Sejahtera group, a company that controls PT Tobacom Del Mandiri, one of the companies involved in mining operations in the Wabu Block area in Intan Jaya.
Luhut’s lawyer Juniver Girsang said on September 11 that the minister would prosecute the two activists for violating the law on electronic information and transactions by “attacking someone’s honor or reputation with accusations” and “defamation” after rejecting requests in a subpoena to apologize for mentioning Luhut in the video.
In a statement, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said efforts to pressure activists “appear to be aimed only at punishing them for exercising their right to freedom of expression. “.
âThe Observatory calls on the Indonesian authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Haris Azhar, Fatia Maulidiyanti and all other human rights defenders in the country, in order to ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights pleas without hindrance or fear of reprisal, âthe group said in an open letter to the Indonesian government, including President Joko Widodo and Minister Luhut.
Father John Djonga, an activist priest in Papua, said the pressure on the two activists was part of a long-standing model the government is using to crack down on those who talk about Papua.
âThe relationship between the military and the police and various corporate entities, both for mining and plantations in Papua is an old problem, but few people dare to talk about it. The efforts of these activists are part of an effort to encourage transparency regarding practices that have been hidden from the public and involve power in Papua, âhe told UCA News.
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He said all Minister Luhut should do is give his side of the story.
“I hope this kind of pressure doesn’t scare activists into openly discussing Papua-related issues,” the priest said.
“One of the reasons Papua continues to be in turmoil is that many officials, including the security apparatus, are in fact playing in troubled waters, making profits amid the chaos in Papua.” , he added.
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