Alleged Repressions Taking Place Ahead of Bali's G20 Summit

9 November 2022 13:28 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - I Gede Robi Supriyanto (43) never expected that the public discussion touted the “Bali for Climate Aspiration Platform and Youth Arts” initially planned to be held on Saturday, November 5, at one of Denpasar’s coffee venues would be canceled. The Navicula band frontman expressed his reaction to the abrupt cancellation of the event on his Instagram account. 

“Sorry, it had to be canceled. Those smart enough will know why,” he wrote.

The cancelation of the event coincides with the policy of local religious figures that did not green-light events that would potentially cause crowds. The event “embargo” was made effective from November 6 - November 18 as the region will host the G20 Summit and attract world leaders. 

As the event’s spokesperson, Robi lamented the decision. “Why did it have to be canceled? Didn’t the government call for public participation in the G20 prior to this?” he said on Tuesday who was still bewildered as Navicula had participated in the G20 pre-event. “This doesn’t add up.” 

Apart from Robi, a vocal activist for the ‘Bali Against Reclamation’ movement Wayan “Gendo” Suarda criticized a statement issued by the Bali Tradition Assembly (MDA) chairperson, Ida Penglingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, who openly encouraged people to suppress any form of criticism against the Bali provincial government as the G20 Summit is being held in the region. 

Gendo believes such a statement should not have been made and reminded that the MDA’s capacity overseen in the Bali Governor’s Regulation only oversees the aspect of traditional villages. MDA itself oversees the social, cultural, and traditional aspects of traditional villages.  

Tempo asked for confirmation about this issue with Ketut Wisna, who acts as the Bendesa Adat Kesiman, but has yet to receive any response.

Greenpeace Cyclists Heading to Bali Subject to Intimidation

The team of cyclists from Greenpeace Indonesia, under the ‘Chasing the Shadow’ campaign, who were pedaling their way to the G20 Summit in Bali has reportedly been subject to intimidation as they were passing East Java’s Probolinggo. One of the cyclists, according to the watchdog’s press statement, was told to stop their journey by people claiming to represent local Probolinggos. 

“One of our members in the group was forced to make a legally signed statement that they would not continue their journey and stop campaigning during the G20 Summit in Bali,” the press statement from Greenpeace Indonesia wrote, on November 8.

This incident happened as the cyclists were stopping by the region on Monday, November 7, when they were intercepted by a group of people who specifically told them to stop the ‘Chasing the Shadow’ campaign. 

Greenpeace Indonesia says that this is not an isolated problem as their team had also been subjected to intimidation in Semarang, while en route to Bali. The perpetrators were either unidentifiable or others were allegedly wearing security uniforms. The climate watchdog’s session on a radio station was also interrupted by seven individuals claiming to be from the police while they were on air. 

Various other forms of repression marred the ‘Chasing the Shadow’ team’s trip with another case prior to the Probolinggo incident that saw their vehicle’s tire slashed while it was parked. 

“It peaked during the trip to Probolinggo. The threats were blatantly clear, either verbally or in the form of tire slashing,” the statement reads. 

According to the Greenpeace Indonesia climate and energy chief campaigner Tata Mustasya on November 8, the team had foreseen the incident experienced by the cyclists pedaling through Probolinggo as there was already news from local mass media reporting on a local mass organization that object to the presence of the Greenpeace cyclists. 

The mass organization in question is a subdivision of the Gresik region Ansor Youth Movement (GP Ansor). This organization had also reportedly barred the Greenpeace cyclists to attend the G20 Summit in Bali. 

However, East Java’s GP Ansor chairperson Syafiq Syauqi denied that the organization had attempted to block the environmental watchdog’s campaign to enter or exit Bali. The GP Ansor does not have the capacity or authority to commit to such a thing, he wrote in addressing the issue in a statement published on the Ansorjatim.or.id website.

Apart from insisting all branch offices withdraw responses before coordinating with GP Ansor central management, he asserted that the East Java GP Ansor supports the success of the G20 summit and that it is the organization’s ideological responsibility to participate in guarding Indonesia’s dignity in the eyes of the international community.

Symptoms of Authoritarianism in a Democratic Country

Moreover, Tata believes the threats received by Greenpeace cyclists were not a coincidence and alluded that it had been pre-planned. He alleges that security forces had received instruction to block the group from campaigning in Bali. 

Tata claims his assumption is backed by the multiple cyberattack attempts against him and the organization’s director Leonard Simanjuntak, where both of their Whatsapp apps were hacked on November 5. He also noted that three other members had been subjected to cyberattacks the following day. 

“Our cellular network was turned off and was only recovered five hours later,” Tata recalled.

Tempo reached out to the National Police Spokesperson, Grand Commissioner Nurul Azizah, and East Java Police’s Spokesperson Grand Commissioner Dirmanto for confirmation of the alleged intimidation.  However, both of them did not reply to Tempo’s text message. Central Java Police spokesperson Commissioner Iqbal Al-Qudussy reached back by stating that he will verify his personnel’s whereabouts when the Greenpeace cyclist team traveled through Semarang. 

Amnesty International Indonesia deputy director Wirya Adiwena lamented the attempts to intimidate and threaten the environmental activists cycling to Bali. He believes the physical threats and cyberattacks prove the lack of protection for activists and human rights defenders. 

“It gives the impression that the attacks were condoned,” said Adiwena who emphasized the lack of government protection to preserve freedom of expression. “This is the State’s form of arrogance that seemingly intends to cover up peaceful criticism.”

Echoing the criticism from Amnesty Indonesia, Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Fatia Maulidyanti, believes the intimidation subjected against Greenpeace Indonesia personnel and Robi proves the existence of authoritarianism amidst Indonesia’s declining democracy. Fatia strongly believes that these incidents showcase the government’s stance in prioritizing investments over the welfare of its own people. 

She also argues that this series of suppression proves the government is not serious in pledging to climate change issues, which is the main discussion at the G20 Summit. “Movements from civil societies are covered up while they claim to care at international forums.”

Founder of the human rights group Lokataru, Haris Azhar, opined that Indonesia should show G20 guests that economic agendas are not a contrast against public participation. “Greenpeace is not a threat,” he asserted. 

Asfinawati, a renowned legal aid activist who teaches at the Jentera School of Law, urged the government to acknowledge people’s rights to express their views in public and argues that the G20 forum perpetuates economic inequality and its participants fail to vet countries that host summits based on the country’s democratic state.

This article was initially published in Bahasa Indonesia on Tempo’s newspaper platform Koran Tempo on November 9.

KORAN TEMPO | ROSSENO AJI | MADE ARGAWA (BALI) | FENTI GUSTINA, ARYA PRASETYA (INTERNS)

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