Police Cancel Papua-Related Discussion Plan, Watchdog Laments Freedom of Speech Crisis

24 June 2022 09:08 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Amnesty International Indonesia deputy director Wirya Adiwena commented on the police canceling a plan for a public discussion on issues related to Papua at the East Javan University of National Development (UPN). He viewed that this reasserted the crisis surrounding freedom of speech in Indonesia.

The event, organized by the university's Public Administration Student Association (HMAP), was initially aimed to discuss problems that arise in Papua and was scheduled to invite speakers from the Papuan University Alliance (AMP).

However, the Rungkut Surabaya police sector feared that the public discussion will only give the spotlight to the Papuan student's alliance to promote the region's independence.

"Even posters and discussions in academic surroundings are considered dangerous and must be taken down and stopped. This country seems to have forgotten the mandate of the Reformation era when discord and constructive criticism were being silenced," Adiwena wrote in a statement on June 23.

The Amnesty Indonesia deputy suggested the police participate in the discussion rather than restricting people's rights to voice their opinion and peacefully assemble, which is protected by the Indonesian Constitution.

"It isn't a threat to be eradicated but rather they are citizens that are exercising their rights, they are not criminals," he asserted.

He further argued that the country must be truly committed to guaranteeing the human rights of its people, including the right to speak up and be critical. This commitment also needs to be demonstrated at the legislative level, such as in the discussion of the criminal code draft bill or RKUHP, which houses an Article that will be able to criminalize citizens arbitrarily and shows the government's lack of seriousness in protecting its people's rights to freedom of speech.

RIANI SANUSI PUTRI

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