By Astrid Maharani, UNATS Fellow
Indonesia was re-elected as a UN Human Rights Council Member from 2015 to 2017. As a democratic country in ASEAN, Indonesia occupies an important position in the region. During the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council, Indonesia actively delivered statements on issues of concern to the country. It raised issues of migrant workers and responded to the report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. It also discussed its commitment to the SDGs and the right to development. Indonesia has officially invited the Special Rapporteur on Health to visit the country in 2017 for further engagement.
In spite of these positive developments, Indonesia remains silent on some critical domestic and regional issues , including follow-up to human rights violations against Papuans; summary executions; and violations against the Rohingya in Burma/Myanmar.
NGOs often draw the Council’s attention to the human rights situation in West Papua as it is one of the most isolated areas in the world. There are many reported cases of arbitrary arrests by Indonesian security forces of indigenous Papuans for participating in peaceful gatherings. While Franciscans International delivered a joint statement with the Human Rights Working Group Indonesia on this issue during the General Debate, Indonesia remained silent.
Although Indonesia offered temporary shelter for Rohingya people, it did not deliver a statement on issues involving the Rohingya or other ethnic groups in Burma/Myanmar following the presentation of the High Commissioner.
Indonesia also attempted to avoid a sensitive issue in the country when it voted against a draft resolution on “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity”. Indonesia claimed that it based its decision on respect for socio-cultural and religious values, norms and morality. However, in reality it would appear that it decided not to respect fundamental human rights of certain individuals.
Indonesia was part of the core group that introduced the resolution A/HRC/RES/32/32 on “the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association”, along with other Asian countries such as the Maldives and the Philippines. While this may show Indonesia’s international appreciation for the involvement of civil society in maintaining a democratic society, the freedom of assembly and association inside Indonesia is at risk. LGBTI groups, ethnic groups, religious minority groups, and other individuals have been considered threats to sovereignty and ideology in Indonesia.