19 December 2008

Yogyakarta activists, women workers commemorate Human Rights Day

Detik/Tempo Interactive - December 10, 2008

Yogyakarta -- Hundreds of students and non-
government organisation activists in the Central
Java city of Yogyakarta took to the streets on
December 10 to commemorate Human Rights Day. They
also demanded that the government revoke a joint
ministerial decree (SKB-4) limiting wage rises to
economic growth and end to the exploitation of women

Despite drizzling rain throughout most of the day,
actions were held at a number of locations and
shopping centres in different parts of the city. The
first action was carried out by scores of women
activists from the We Can Campaign Indonesia
alliance at the Serangan Oemoem (SO) March 1 Plaza
Monument. The second action was held by the United
People’s Committee (KRB) at the Yogyakarta Monument.

During the action at the Plaza Monument, which was
joined by women workers, some of which brought
children and infants, they unfurled banners with
messages such as “Stop violence against women”,
“Oppose the exploitation of workers”, “Fight for
women’s rights”, “Oppose and revoke the SKB-4” and
“Nationalise foreign assets”. The protesters also
sung patriotic songs such as “For You My Nation”,
“Mother Kartini” and “Struggle of Blood”.

In a speech, KRB action coordinator Muhammad Iron
warned the people not to be enticed by the sweet
promises of the political elite in the lead up to
the 2009 legislative and presidential elections,
saying that they are competing with each other
making promises about bringing prosperity to the
people yet they have never done this in the past.

“Remember that there is no evidence to back these
promises. All those participating in the 2009
elections are imperialist lackeys. The 2009
elections are an election of human rights violators
such as [former Kopassus commander] Prabowo in the
Gerindra Party and [former armed forces chief]
Wiranto in the Hanura Party along with the other
fake reformist parties”, said Iron. (Detik.com,

Activists in Semarang say many human rights cases
left unresolved

Semarang -- Human Rights Day was also commemorated
in the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang,
where scores of activists and victims of human
rights violations protested at the East Java
regional police headquarters and the Regional House
of Representatives (DPRD) on December 10.

The action stared at the Fountain Roundabout on Jl.
Pahlawan then moved off to the regional police
headquarters some 500 metres away. During the march,
police could be seen directing traffic which had
became congested with protesters taking up half of
the road. At the police headquarters, demonstrators
from non-government organisations and students took
turns in giving speeches.

Following this, scores of human rights victims
joined the action, hitting and trampling on a straw
figure as a symbol of their anger at the handing of
human rights cases that are often left unresolved.
“Come on hit it! Trample on it! Can’t you do better
than that”, shouted one of the protesters

Satisfied with destroying the straw figure, the
protesters moved off to the Central Java DPRD some
500 metres away from the police headquarters. They
plan to end the action by returning to the Fountain
Roundabout at around 11.30am. (Detik.com,

Protesters in Medan give government ‘red report
card’ on human rights

Medan -- The upholding of human rights in Indonesia
is still week. This has been proven by the
widespread cases of violence by state institutions
against civil society.

This ‘red report card’ on human rights was
emphasised by around 1,000 demonstrators who
commemorated World Human Rights Day at the North
Sumatra DPRD in Medan on December 10. The majority
of the protesters, who came from the North Sumatra
Civil Society Alliance (AMSSU), said they were
victims of human rights abuses, mostly involving
land disputes.

During a speech, action coordinator Minggu Saragih
said that the government has failed to fully
implement the Universal Human Rights Declaration
which has also been signed by Indonesia. Farmers are
seen as easy victims of human rights violations in
North Sumatra by state institutions and the
government therefore, must immediately implement the
1960 Agrarian Law on land reform.

“Land problems are mushrooming in North Sumatra.
People are being evicted from their land everywhere.
Not a few of these people have suffered violence,
both physical as well as mental. In upholding human
rights, the government’s report card is still red”,
said Saragih.

The AMSSU also urged the government to revoke the
joint ministerial decree, implement the People’s
Consultative Assembly Decree Number 11/1998 and to
take responsibility for ensuring a reasonable
standard of living for the poor. (Detik.com,

Farmers in Malang demand resolution to land dispute
with marines

Malang -- Thousands of farmers from the sub-
districts of Pagak, Bantur and Gedangan demonstrated
at the regent’s office in the East Java city of
Malang on December 10.

According to action coordinator Hadili, the protest
was held both to commemorate World Human Rights Day
as well as to demand that the central government
intervene to resolve a dispute over land in Purboyo
that has been used as a Marine Combat Training
Centre for the last 30 or so years.

“The Combat Training Centre can continue to exist,
but we are asking for public and social facilities
to be constructed. We [want] to be allowed to
rebuild homes that have been partly destroyed by
members of the marines. Please also provide
electricity”, said Hadili, adding that they had been
struggling over this issue for the last eight years.

The protest action at the regent’s office only
continued for around 15 minutes, after which the
demonstrators moved off to the Gajayana train
station to join up with protesting workers and
students. (Tempo Interactive, 10/12/2008)

[Abridged translation by James Balowski.]

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