Human rights defenders, 1965 survivors under serious attacks as anti-communism sentiment turned to violence

Amnesty International Indonesia has warned the government that failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of today’s mobs attack on the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) would encourage more threats against human rights defenders in the country.

Such a violence act will also create climate of fear for survivors of the 1965 to reveal the truth about what happened behind the 1965 mass violations that saw the killing of an estimate up to one million people accused of being members, supporters or sympathizers of the now defunct Indonesia Communist Party (PKI).

Around one thousand people joining angry mobs flocked and threw stones at the YLBHI office on Sunday, one day after the police banned a seminar on the history of 1965 mass violence on Saturday following protests from anti-communist groups.

As a result, the protesters damaged some part of the YLBHI’s building and injured police officers.

“What happened on early morning today was a serious attack on human rights defenders. We call on the police to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice. Failure to do so will only strengthen the culture of impunity for assailants and create climate of fear for 1965 survivors to speak out about the tragedy,” said Amnesty International Indonesia Director Usman Hamid.

Amnesty International Indonesia also urges the police to provide maximum protection on human rights defenders, victims of the 65 Tragedy as well as YLBHI staff who were trapped inside the building and received intimidation from protesters during the attack.

“We appreciate the police for preventing the mobs to further attack YLBHI office. However, the police must ensure that actors behind the attacks be investigated transparently,” Usman said.
Amnesty International Indonesia team was in the field when the attacks took place.

Protesters accused the seminar of disseminating information about communism to justify their violent actions. The police had informed them that Sunday’s activities at YLBHI had nothing to do with communism, but they insisted to stay and carry out the attacks.

President Joko Widodo, who was aggravated by accusations linking him to communism, earlier said “If you could show me [that communism reemerged in the country] I will ‘clobber’ it right now.”

Before the President went public with the “clobber” campaign, there was series of anti-communist propagandas from army elites that may have inspired President Jokowi to do so.

The protesters apparently were inspired by President Jokowi’s war on communism as some of them claimed that they complied with the mandate of the President “to clobber” communism.

“The President must think twice before expressing an argument in the public. Today’s attacks clearly show that the mobs were inspired by Jokowi’s cause against communism. This is very dangerous as people could attack others by claiming that they comply with the President’s order,” Usman said.

For further media inquiries:
Haeril Halim
Communications Officer, Amnesty International Indonesia
[email protected]