Thursday, April 3, 2014

1) Int'l protesters demand democratic rights for Papuan prisoners

1) Int'l protesters demand  democratic rights for Papuan  prisoners
2) Military Officers Have No Role in Indonesian Elections: Experts

1) Int'l protesters demand  democratic rights for Papuan  prisoners
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | World | Thu, April 03 2014, 5:33 PM
At least 100 protesters demanded the immediate release of 76 political prisoners in Papua outside the Indonesian Embassy in London, UK, on Wednesday, in a peaceful rally organized by TAPOL, Survival International and Amnesty International UK.
The protesters called on Indonesia’s political parties and candidates to state their support for basic democratic rights in Papua ahead of next week’s national legislative election. Similar rallies were held in Scotland, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and also in Jayapura, Papua.
The protesters, who represented each of the Papuan political prisoners currently behind bars, were symbolically handcuffed and taped across the mouth to highlight the silencing of free speech in Indonesia's easternmost province.
Papuan political prisoner Dominikus Surabut sent a message on Wednesday to April 2 protesters around the world from his cell in Abepura prison, Jayapura regency, saying, “Freedom and democracy cannot be killed or imprisoned. Its spirit is absolute. No person or state can defeat it. To all advocates of human rights and democracy: we cannot remain silent. We must join hands and spirits together to achieve democratic freedoms.”
Surabut was arrested on Oct. 19, 2011, and is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for his participation in a peaceful political gathering.
Despite widespread international concern about the political and human rights situation in Papua, Indonesian political parties have remained silent on what they can offer for a peaceful Papua. Some demonstrators challenged Indonesia's presidential candidates to take up the issue of Papua and explain their policies.
Protesters held placards reading: "Jokowi: Will you give free speech to Papua?" and "Bakrie: Will you release Papuan political prisoners?", referring to Jakarta Governor and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Golkar Party chairman and presidential candidate Aburizal Bakrie.
In a letter to Indonesian Ambassador to the UK Teuku Mohammad Hamzah Thayeb, delivered on Wednesday, rally organizer TAPOL said 537 political arrests had been made in Papua in 2013, more than double the number of arrests in 2012. The number of reported cases of torture and ill-treatment in detention tripled, while the number of cases denying access to lawyers and unfair trials doubled.
The letter pointed out that the huge increase in arrests "is particularly disturbing in the run-up to the Indonesian national elections next week. The lack of democratic space in Papua means that the elections are largely irrelevant as far as many Papuans are concerned". (***)

2) Military Officers Have No Role in Indonesian Elections: Experts

By Vita A.D. Busyra on 10:06 pm Apr 03, 2014

Jakarta. In recent years, the Indonesian political scene has come alive with a host of old and new faces introducing themselves to the public. But ahead of the elections, analysts have raised concerns over the participation of former members of the military in politics, which they warn could have negative implications for the country’s democratic process.
Edy Prasetyono, a researcher with the University of Indonesia’s Center for International Relations Studies (CIReS), said the participation or support of several military retirees on the political stage may negatively impact the public’s perception of the institution and prompt them to conclude that the military was failing to abide by the principle of political neutrality.
“Their contributions to various parties could cause ruptures in the military,” Edy said at a discussion on Tuesday, adding that this form of support might violate the military’s obligation to maintain its neutrality during elections.
This year’s elections sees People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) founder and retired Army general Wiranto, who was the last military commander under then-president Suharto, running for president, as well as another former Army general, Prabowo Subianto, the founder of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).
Pramono Edhie Wibowo, who retired from his post as the Army chief of staff last year, is in the running as one of the Democratic Party’s possible presidential candidates.

Edy said that despite there being no prohibitions regarding former military officers’ involvement in the elections, their status as former members of the institution may still make their bids unethical.
“Because they carry the name of the military, it gives a ‘negative’ impression that the military is playing in politics,” he said. “We’re just trying to protect the military from misunderstanding.”
Edy said, however, that trying to restrict retired and active members of the institution may be a challenging task, especially if they were approached directly by the political parties. “They can’t be blamed because it’s not them who initiate the move but the parties who are trying hard to recruit prospective commanders or retired military officers as part of their jockeying,” he said.
He urged the country’s security forces not lapse back into the ways of Suharto’s New Order regime, when electoral fraud was committed publicly, such as announcing the winner before the election even began. “There is no such thing as a sacred election. Our demands for the security forces — the police, the intelligence community and the military — to be neutral is still far from reality,” Edy said.

He emphasized that the military had no role in encouraging the public to vote for a particular party or candidate and that it must also avoid the use of both physical and psychological intimidation. Last but not least, he warned that military members, who are not allowed to vote, should not take any orders from their commanding officers to recommend that their relatives, friends or associates support certain parties or candidates.
Military members are not the only ones prone to being involved in politics.
Kusnanto Anggoro, a military analyst and researcher for CIReS, said it was also important for the police to maintain their neutrality. “Police should show no favoritism because looking back at previous elections, many parties have questioned police officers’ activities,” he said.

Edy said the use of cardboard ballot boxes could increase the chances of violations in the voting process, with police officials being responsible for delivering the materials. He explained that during elections, police played the role of helping the General Elections Commission (KPU) secure, print, store and distribute the ballots.
Hariyadi Wirawan, another researcher, claimed that the upcoming election system was at risk of being manipulated due to the misuse of information technology. “In the past, fraud was done overtly, such as when prior to the elections, the information minister under Suharto would say that the Golkar Party had already won the polls by 62 percent. Today things are more sophisticated with things like smartphones and the internet,” he said.

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