COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY “Human Rights Violations still Happening, Questioning the state commitment”

Mr. Astaman Hasibuan read his poem “Lost Villages” (photo by Fhilya Hilmasari Sinulingga)

Elements of civil society commemorate the International Human Rights Day with art performance on Monday, December 10, 2018 in the courtyard of the LBH (Legal Aid Institution) office in Medan, Hindu road No. 12 Medan. The band’s and artists “Filsafatian Band” as well as victims of human rights violations also filled out a series of activities that took place from 14.00-18.00 WIB.

Several cross-sectoral civil society organizations jointly initiated activities to commemorate International Human Rights Day. The civil society organizations consist of the Medan Legal Aid Institute (Medan LBH), the North Sumatra Environmental Forum (WALHI SU), the People’s Forest Institute (HaRI), KontraS Sumatera Utara, BAKUMSU, Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI) Sumatera Utara, SIKAP, PUSHAM UNIMED, Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria (KPA) Sumatera Utara, SEKBER RA SUMUT, LITERACY COFFEE, SAHDAR, HMI UMSU, and HMI FISIP USU.

Filsafatian Band appearance (photo by Fhilya Hilmasari Sinulingga)

Through this event, civil society elements stated that human rights violations still existing to this day and the state is still not seriously committing to carry out human rights enforcement efforts. In North Sumatra itself, human rights violations were classified as still high and tended to increase compared to previous years. The elements of civil society in North Sumatra recorded several types of human rights violations in this province. Problems that have not yet been resolved until now.

Firstly, agrarian conflicts remain significant in the record of human rights violations in North Sumatra. Based on the records of the People’s Forest Institute (HaRI), there are 106 community groups that have so far been in conflict with plantations and industrial plantation companies, with an area of 346,648 hectares. BAKUMSU also found that there were 16 agrarian conflicts over indigenous territories belonging to indigenous peoples in North Sumatra based on monitoring carried out throughout 2017-2018.

Secondly, the practice of violence and abuse of authority by the State security apparatus. In 2018, KontraS North Sumatra illustrated a significant increase in the number of violence of security forces. In 2017 there were 59 cases, this year this number increased to 71 cases. In this context, there are two issues that get a special note from KontraS North Sumatra. Firstly, excessive use of force by security forces especially the police, in the context of law enforcement. Secondly, the ongoing practice of torture.

Thirdly, the threat to democracy in the context of freedom of association, expression and opinion. The polemic on the use of some articles through the ITE Law is a key word in conveying the conditions of democracy in the frame of freedom of association and expressing opinions. As was the case with Yusroh Hasibuan, an activist from Batubara who could be an example of how the ITE Law was used arrogantly and arbitrarily. Efforts to silence democracy are also reflected in the practice of violence against journalists in North Sumatra. In 2017 there were 13 cases of violence, in our notes, throughout 2018 there were at least 9 cases of violence against journalists.

Fourthly, human rights violations with regards to ecological justice, namely the struggle for intergenerational environmental justice, to save from threats and impacts of the crisis and destruction of the environment and the sources of human life. The right of every person to a good environment must be recognized. This emphasizes the importance of the responsibility of the state to ensure the enforcement of environmental law. North Sumatra is an area prone to human rights violations with regards to ecological justice. Ecological justice is a rare achievement and law enforcers seem helpless against the corporation in their efforts to save the environment and natural resources. Efforts to realize environmental rights are important prerequisites to protect the sustainability of people’s livelihoods. According to Walhi’s records, 163 people were criminalized and experienced violence because they fought for the right to a good and healthy environment and their living space.

The commemoration of the International Human Rights Day is a momentum especially for the state to reflect on the importance of upholding human rights for the future of Indonesia, not just as a ceremonial event. As human rights violations in North Sumatra are still ongoing, this must be addressed as soon as possible. The elements of civil society must regain strength within the framework of encouraging the active involvement of the state in carrying out human rights enforcement. Especially the government of North Sumatra Province under the leadership of the new Governor.