Indonesia’s elections raise grave concerns for human rights in the country and the region, Southeast Asian MPs say


Indonesia’s elections raise grave concerns for human rights in the country and the region, Southeast Asian MPs say

JAKARTA – The events surrounding the recently held elections in Indonesia are a cause of serious concern and pose a grave risk to the future of human rights and democracy in the country, Southeast Asian parliamentarians said today.

We are deeply disturbed by the reports of widespread abuse of power, including interfering with the Constitutional Court as well as using social aid for political purposes, which have seriously undermined the integrity of the vote,” said ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Co-Chair and former Malaysian MP Charles Santiago. 

Between 12 and 14 February, APHR conducted a study visit to observe and learn from the Indonesian elections. During the visit, APHR’s delegation – which consisted of current and former parliamentarians from Malaysia, Timor-Leste, and Thailand – met with Indonesian election management bodies as well as representatives from several civil society organizations. Activists and academics expressed their concern over the independence of the General Election Commission (KPU) and the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), the neutrality of state institutions, and the effectiveness of the sanctions for election violations, among other issues. In the interim report of its election observation mission, the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) highlighted similar findings.

While we appreciate that the KPU and the Bawaslu have overseen a largely peaceful and smooth election day, elections and democracy are not just about a single day at the voting booth. We urge our fellow parliamentarians in Indonesia to consider legislation that would strengthen the KPU’s and Bawaslu’s independence as well as their enforcement powers, to ensure that future elections take place on a level playing field,” said APHR member and Malaysian MP Syed Ibrahim bin Syed Noh.

Local election observers have also reported that there have been several irregularities during the voting process, as well as in the KPU’s vote tabulation app Sirekap. 

We support Indonesian civil society’s efforts in documenting and reporting all the potential election violations and errors, and we urge all concerned agencies to respond to these reports in a comprehensive and timely manner in order to maintain the public’s confidence in the elections,” said Thailand MP Chutiphong Pipoppinyo.

While the official results will only be announced next month, initial results indicate that current Minister of Defence Prabowo Subianto has won the presidential election. Prabowo, a former army general, has been implicated in several gross human rights violations, including the killing of civilians during Indonesia’s occupation of Timor-Leste in the 1980s, as well as the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists towards the end of former president Soeharto’s regime in 1997-98. Prabowo’s running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the son of incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, was only eligible to run after a controversial ruling by the Constitutional Court, which was then headed by Gibran’s uncle.

The fact that the likely winner of the presidential election is an accused human rights violator who has never been tried does not bode well for the prospect of human rights protection and rule of law in Indonesia,” said APHR Member and former Timor-Leste MP Abel Da Silva. “We call on our fellow parliamentarians in Indonesia to act as a powerful counterbalance to ensure that the executive’s power does not go unchecked.”

As the largest country in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is often looked to as an example, particularly in issues of human rights and democracy,” said APHR Member and Timor-Leste MP Lidia Norberta dos Santos Martins. “Because of that, we hope that whoever wins the election will commit to strengthening Indonesia’s democratic institutions and upholding the human rights of its people.”

Read this statement in Bahasa Indonesia.

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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia. Our founding members include many of the region's most progressive Members of Parliament (MPs), with a proven track record of human rights advocacy work.

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