(Jakarta) – Jakarta’s new governor, Anies Baswedan, should act to protect and promote human rights in the Indonesian capital, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the governor. Governor Baswedan should make a specific commitment to defend the rights of the city’s vulnerable economic, sexual, and religious communities.
“Governor Baswedan has a unique opportunity to build bridges between Jakarta’s diverse communities and ensure that Jakarta respects Indonesia’s international legal obligations,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “He can start by denouncing the police raids on Jakarta’s gay community.”
Baswedan should move quickly and decisively to curb discriminatory and abusive actions by the Jakarta police. Over the past year, the police have carried out multiple “raids” on venues that allegedly host private social gatherings of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Baswedan should order an end to such raids, which violate the rights to non-discrimination, privacy, and equal justice under law, and ensure that police personnel responsible for these raids are appropriately punished.
Baswedan should also ensure the rights of Jakarta’s religious minorities, including its Shia, Ahmadiyah, and Christian communities, and protect them from harassment, intimidation, and violence by Islamist militants, and ensure that they have access to essential government services.
Baswedan should deliver on campaign promises that forced evictions in urban areas should never leave people homeless or vulnerable to further human rights violations. He should promptly carry out the recent Supreme Court decision restoring Jakarta’s public water services to residents after two private companies “failed to protect” the right to water and sanitation, as the court said.
Human Rights Watch expressed deep concern about Baswedan’s use of the term “pribumi” (native sons) in his inaugural address. The term has long been used to imply that “peranakan” (Chinese-Indonesians or mixed-race Indonesians) and others were benefitting at the pribumi’s expense. Baswedan should refrain from using the term, which then-President B.J. Habibie prohibited using in 1998 precisely for these reasons, as an important step toward creating a more tolerant capital.
“Governor Baswedan should use the power of his office to protect and defend the human rights of all Jakartans, rather than stoke the fears of the Muslim majority,” Adams said. “His governorship will be measured in large part on delivering on Indonesia’s national motto of ‘Unity in Diversity.’”