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Indonesia: Candidates Speak Out on Human Rights

Two of Three Presidential Contenders Respond to Human Rights Watch Questionnaire

Political campaign posters from many politicians displayed on a street in Jakarta, Indonesia. © 2024 Andreas Harsono/Human Rights Watch

(Jakarta) – Two of the three Indonesian presidential and vice presidential candidates responded to a questionnaire on key human rights issues facing people in Indonesia, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch prepared the questionnaire to provide the candidates an opportunity to publicly express their views on human rights concerns ahead of the February 14, 2024 general elections.

The presidential candidates Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo submitted their responses in English. Prabowo Subianto Djojohadikusumo, the third presidential candidate, did not respond. Human Rights Watch sent the questionnaire, in English, to the three candidates on December 1, 2023, and repeatedly followed up with their political teams.

“Two of the main political teams have done Indonesian voters a service by sharing their views on the critically important human rights issues affecting the country,” said Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Politicians work hard to draw in supporters during elections, but voters should also be able to go beyond the rhetoric to compare actual positions, and hold the candidates to their word if they are elected.”

In Indonesian elections, candidates usually represent a coalition of parties. There are currently 18 national parties. The older established political parties such as Golkar Party, which supports Djojohadikusumo and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, PDIP), which supports Ganjar Pranowo, have formed coalitions with some of the other parties. A group of smaller parties are backing Anies Baswedan and vice presidential candidate Muhaimin Iskandar, who heads the Nation Awakening Party.

The questionnaire contained 16 questions focused on women’s rights, children’s rights to education, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, labor rights, media freedom, and freedom of expression. Other questions included policies on disability rights, protection of Indonesian migrant workers, and Indonesia’s foreign policy in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. There were also questions on policies that would address accountability for past violations including the mass killings in 1965, atrocities against ethnic Madurese on Kalimantan Island, sectarian violence in the Malukus Islands, the conflict in Aceh, the Lake Poso violence, the crackdown against student activists in 1998, and killings in East Timor.

The deadline for responding was January 25. Ganjar Pranowo and the vice presidential candidate Mahfud M.D.’s team sent an 8-page response on January 26. Baswedan and Iskandar’s campaign team sent a 10-page response on February 4. Both teams also referred to their candidates’ vision and mission statements that they had officially submitted to the General Elections Commission.

Human Rights Watch contacted each campaign multiple times between December 1 and February 3 via phone, text message, traditional mail, and email to ensure that they had received the questionnaire and to remind them of the deadline. Neither Prabowo Djojohadikusumo’s team, nor his running mate, Gibran R. Raka, provided any response to these requests.

About 205 million registered voters will be eligible to cast their ballots on February 14, choosing their presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as members of the House of Representatives, the Regional Representative Council, and provincial and local parliaments.

“All Indonesian presidential and vice presidential candidates should clearly express their positions on the human rights issues facing the country,” Pearson said. “Indonesian voters need to know their positions on many important issues that affect them and the communities in which they live.”



All three teams have submitted their vision and mission statements ahead of the election, which are available with the General Election Commission.

Below is a Human Rights Watch summary of the responses received to the questionnaire. The full answers from the campaigns of two of the three presidential and vice presidential candidates can be accessed online at:


Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar

Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud M.D.

  1. On the problematic Criminal Code

The entire polemic regarding the Criminal Code serves as an example of how the current government’s decision-making process is non-transparent, hurried, and without sufficient and meaningful public participation.

We have a commitment to promote, protect and fulfill human rights in Indonesia and internationally as mandated in Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution and human rights law. We have not discussed the specific issues raised about the Criminal Code, but we are open for discussion with the human rights community.

  1. On policies for protecting villagers and Indigenous people from encroachment on their land by palm plantations and other extractive businesses

We are committed to endorsing and overseeing the ratification of the Indigenous Peoples Bill, increasing the Village Fund budget to IDR 5 billion (US$320,000) per year per village, and streamlining downstream processes, including encouraging meaningful participation from Indigenous communities and residents.

We share a vision for a “Recognition of indigenous communities over customary rights, forests, land, and other resources as part of ecosystem units for the welfare of indigenous communities.”

This vision is to be elaborated into various activities including land conflicts resolution, copyright protection etc. We will impose a moratorium on

deforestation and accelerate reforestation, restoration, and rehabilitation. We will increase the conservation of forest areas as a source of local food, herbal medicines, water, oxygen, climatological functions, and natural services for the lives of communities around the forest. These activities will be in full consultation with the Indigenous communities.

  1. On freedom of religion and belief

The policy we will pursue is:

Instilling values of inclusivity and tolerance from an early age;

Making schools, villages, and cities safe spaces for diversity;

Ensuring that public spaces are inclusive spaces that welcome various expressions of diversity, including celebration of religious holidays;

Strengthening the collaboration between government, civil society organizations, and private sectors in promoting unity and diversity;

Implementing an inclusive organizational culture, starting from the government sector as an example for other sectors; Guaranteeing a sense of security for every religious follower in acts of worship and celebration of religious holidays, including simplifying and facilitating permits for opening up new places of worship and protecting established places of worship;

Improving the Religious Communication Forum (Forum Kerukunan Umat Beragama) and preparing budgetary support for programs that would strengthen religious harmony.

We will focus on social and cultural aspects through:

Development of education that strengthens tolerance and social solidarity;

Increasing the role of Islamic boarding schools to develop Religious Moderation at the local, national, and global levels;

Developing a culture of respect for differences and policies of tolerance between religious communities, both through dialogue and fostering a sense of religious justice.

  1. On criminal defamation charges against journalists

Revise all regulations that hamper press and civil freedom.

Take firm action against all forms of intimidation and violence against journalists.

Guarantee freedom of association for all members of the press.

Guaranteeing an independent press is within the scope of national interests, supervised by the independent Press Council.

Reform the public broadcasting system to make it credible and of high quality.

Democratization of (radio and TV broadcasting) frequency ownership to benefit all people and national interests.

Guaranteeing a sense of security for journalists through protecting journalists, both physical and journalistic assets, and their institutions.

  1. On human rights abuses in Papua provinces

We will resolve all human rights violations in Papua by:

Strengthening national human rights institutions to investigate and resolve human rights violations as well as encouraging socio-economic recovery for victims of human rights violations;

Preventing the recurrence of violence;

Carrying out dialogue with all parties, especially Indigenous Papuans.

We will focus on the issue of Fiscal Policy and Asymmetric Development for Papua through:

Reducing socio-economic disparities, development, and access to resources between regions through resource redistribution, infrastructure investment, tax incentives, or special financial support for Papua to achieve more equitable economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve the standard of living of citizens to those who need it most.

We are also committed a to special approach of preventing corruption and degradation of natural resources in Papua, especially in newly expanded provinces.

  1. On mandatory hijab regulations for girls and women

Ultimately, the decision to wear a hijab, despite being a religious stipulation, is a personal choice. The state must guarantee everyone's right to dress according to religious beliefs and personal choice if it adheres to principles of respectability and appropriateness.

We will review all laws and regulations. However, the government authorities are limited by law. President Joko Widodo’s ministers issued a joint regulation in 2021 about restricting mandatory wearing of hijab at schools. The Supreme Court canceled it.

  1. On national and local regulations that discriminate against girls and women, religious minorities, as well as LGBT people in Indonesia

Guaranteeing the fulfillment of a sense of security and rights of certain groups without discrimination.

Holding a forum for drafting regulations that involves all stakeholders in an inclusive manner.

We will study those findings of Komnas Perempuan and civil society organizations on discriminatory national and local regulations. We will do our best to improve the legal system to be in line with human rights principles.

  1. On domestic laws contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Ensuring that every public service and public infrastructure/facility is disability friendly.

Ensuring the rights to education and increasing the number of special scholarships to tertiary institutions.

Expanding social assistance benefits.

Encouraging equal opportunities to work through quotas with acceptance criteria adjusted to the objective conditions of disability groups.

Facilitating entrepreneurship through access to training, mentoring, and capital.

We are committed to substantive democracy, respect for human rights, supremacy of law and professional security. We are committed to improve the legal system, including the legal substance to be in line with human rights principles including CRPD.

  1. On ending the practice of pasung, which is the shackling of people with mental disabilities in their own homes or overcrowded and unsanitary institutions

Encouraging mental health education to eradicate negative stigma, starting from families and schools.

Maintaining people's mental health through adding public spaces and facilitating various community activities.

Encouraging the presence of psychologists in every Community Health Center and providing free online counseling services.

Providing a 24-hour hotline crisis center service in each district/city that is integrated with hospital and safe house services, collaborating with various existing institutions and communities.

Strengthening the referral system for mental health services in each province by improving mental health services in hospitals.

We will continue, improve, and strengthen the current effort of government and persons with disabilities organizations, namely Peta Jalan Kelompok Kerja (Pokja) Penghormatan, Perlindungan, Pemenuhan, Penegakan, dan Pemajuan Hak Asasi Manusia (P5HAM) or Road Map of the Working Group to Respect, Protect, Enforce and Promotion of Human Rights led by the Minister of Law and Human Rights.

  1. On the 2020 job creation law, which restricts labor rights and dismantles environmental protection, and on improving workers' labor rights in Indonesia

Fair Wages: Minimum wage increases significantly.

Job Security Guarantee (resolve outsourcing issues).

Get Universal Social Security for Life (JS3H).

Integrated Complaint Service and 24-Hour Free Legal Assistance.

Food assistance up to IDR 200,000/month (US$13).

We want to prioritize welfare of the laborers. We are also committed to support the housing and to include landless farm workers in the agrarian reform programs. Moreover, we will improve the legal system if requested by the laborers. More elaborated ideas can be found in our Vision and Mission.

  1.  On the protection of Indonesian migrant workers and compliance with the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration

Protection of migrant workers with priority placement in countries with bilateral employment agreements to strengthen migrant worker protection.

Increase the number of skilled migrant workers through relevant, quality, and affordable training, plus post-return life security for migrant workers.

Counseling assistance for migrant workers who have problems in the country where they work.

Training and assistance for migrant workers to be able to manage funds well and start businesses that suit their fields and interests.

Structural transformation of migrant workers with limited skills to medium-high skills.

Indonesian migrant workers can fill the needs of the global labor market in countries with aging demographics, such as Japan, South Korea, and European countries.

Utilizing bilateral and multilateral cooperation, optimizing the role of Indonesian representatives in each country, and strengthening diplomacy in the employment sector.

Priority is given to sending migrant workers to countries that respect Indonesian migrant workers.

  1. On LGBT rights

All parties must respect the decisions of LGBT people and must not discriminate and violate their rights as citizens, such as obtaining ID cards, driver’s licenses, etc.

All parties are also asked not to discriminate against LGBT people in terms of employment.

The state cannot yet recognize same-sex marriage because six major religions in Indonesia do not recognize same-sex marriage.

One of the fundamental principles is equality before the law. LGBT people share the same rights as other citizens. They have the right to be respected and protected from any discriminatory actions.

  1. On the 1965 massacres

Strengthen national human rights institutions to investigate and resolve the events of 1965.

Encourage socio-economic recovery for victims of human rights violations, including allowing 1965 exiles to return as Indonesian citizens and return to Indonesia.

Strengthen efforts to resolve gross human rights violations in the past in a fair and dignified manner and within the framework of National Reconciliation, especially in cases of human rights violations which are a burden on civilization for the nation and state, including by re-establishing the Law on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

  1. On other mass killings in Indonesia such as the massacres of ethnic Madurese in Kalimantan, the Maluku Islands’ sectarian violence


Investigating all cases of human rights violations is our commitment to reveal the whole truth and our commitment to creating a democratic Indonesia.

Komnas HAM has the mandate to conduct investigations of suspected gross human rights violations. Komnas HAM already finalized their investigation over the past mass killings in Aceh and submitted it to the Attorney General. We will consult with Komnas HAM on other mass killings.

  1. On providing accountability in East Timor

Review the report of the East Timor Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission as well as the report of the Recognition, Truth, and Reconciliation Commission in East Timor.

Organize a public examination of the decisions of perpetrators of human rights violations in East Timor by inviting the best legal experts.

Indonesia and Timor Leste established a Commission of Truth and Friendship in 2005 and submitted their report to both governments in 2008. Civil society organizations from Indonesia and Timor Leste with support of national human rights commissions in both countries have implemented parts of the recommendation specifically on facilitating family reunion of the separated “children” during the war. There is a need to conduct a joint review of the implementation between the two governments.

16, On Indonesia best promoting human rights in Southeast Asia and the Pacific

We will collaborate with various actors who have experience navigating human rights issues in the region. We will encourage collaboration with regional humanitarian institutions such as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and strengthen the AICHR.

We will also encourage collaboration with other transnational institutions, including Human Rights Watch, to promote human rights within and outside Indonesia, especially in the Southeast Asia and Pacific regions.

We will increase Indonesia's role in realizing the new World Order which is more just through free and active foreign policy.

In the context of Asia and the Pacific, we will continue and improve the role of Indonesia, including the government, the human rights commissions, and civil society groups in promoting human rights in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

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