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Human rights activists remain prone to threats: Komnas HAM

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Activists from the Victims Solidarity Network for Justice (JSKK) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) held the 436th Kamisan, a silent protest held every Thursday to push the government to settle past human rights abuses. They are standing in front of the Presidential Palace on March. 24. The families of victims rejected government's plan to focus on reconciliation of the past violations instead of judicial processes to take the perpetrators to court. (Antara/Wahyu Putro)
Activists from the Victims Solidarity Network for Justice (JSKK) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) held the 436th Kamisan, a silent protest held every Thursday to push the government to settle past human rights abuses. They are standing in front of the Presidential Palace on March. 24. The families of victims rejected government’s plan to focus on reconciliation of the past violations instead of judicial processes to take the perpetrators to court. (Antara/Wahyu Putro)

Threats and criminalization still plague human rights activists in recent years despite a guarantee of freedom of expression in the reform era, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said on Tuesday.

Human rights activists still receive threats while providing aid to people or for staging protests, Komnas HAM commissioner Siti Noor Laila said. There were at least three threats from 2012-2015 aimed at human rights activists, such as murder, death and kidnapping threats, according to data collected by Komnas HAM.

Even though Indonesia’s democracy began after the fall of Soeharto’s dictatorship in 1998, there has not been a significant improvement toward protection of human rights activists in the reform era, Siti said noting several cases of criminalization aimed at activists in recent years.

“In the democracy era, freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution, crimes against human rights activists must never happen,” Siti said at a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday.

She cited examples, such as Yogyakarta-based activist Raden Mas Aji Kusumo who spent three and a half months behind bars in 2015 for staging a  rally to reject the construction of an apartment in Kaliurang, Sleman regency of Yogyakarta believed to cause environmental degradation.

Two public lawyers from Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta)  Tigor Gempita Hutapea and Obed Sakti Andre Dominika have also been arrested for disobeying police orders when assisting laborers in a rally in front of the State Palace in October last year.

Samsul, known as Salim Kancil, was a farmer and anti-mining activist who was beaten to death in September last year for organizing a protest against invasive sand mining in his village in Lumajang, East Java. (wnd/rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/09/27/human-rights-activists-remain-prone-to-threats-komnas-ham.html

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