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Indonesia: Human rights defenders accused of defamation

Fatia Maulidiyanti - Copyright Private
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Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti are well-known Indonesian human rights defenders. Azhar is also a lecturer, an advocate, and the executive director of Lokataru Foundation, a civil society organization defending human rights. Maulidiyanti is the coordinator of KontraS, an organization well-known for exposing human rights violations and advocating on behalf of victims since Indonesia’s Soeharto era.

On 20 August 2021, Haris Azhar uploaded a video on his YouTube channel containing a conversation between himself and Fatia Maulidiyanti. Azhar and Maulidiyanti discussed that some companies allegedly involved in the exploration of Wabu Block gold mine, Intan Jaya, Papua. 

Following the release of the video, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs sent two subpoenas on 26 August and 2 September. According to his spokesperson, the summons were aimed at asking Azhar and Maulidiyanti to explain the motive, intention, and purpose behind the video’s dialogue. The Minister felt that the video reflects untrue opinions, character assassinations, and fake news.

On 29 August, Azhar explained that the data mentioned in the dialogue came from a report titled "Political Economy Study of Military Placement in Papua: The Case of Intan Jaya," which outlined the alleged involvement of several military figures in the mining industry. The report was launched on 12 August 2021 by several civil society organizations, including Legal Aid Institute, WALHI National Executive, Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, WALHI Papua, LBH Papua, KontraS, JATAM, Greenpeace Indonesia, and Trend Asia. 

On 22 September, the Coordinating Minister reported Azhar and Maulidiyanti to the police using the Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE Law). He further demanded that each pay him 100 billion rupiahs (approximately USD 7 million) as compensation.

On 21 October, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti were summoned by Jakarta’s Police for mediation. Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti were present, but the Coordinating Minister Pandjaitan was not. The mediation was postponed indefinitely.

Amnesty International Indonesia has recorded at least 282 cases of prosecution, arrest, attack and intimidation of human rights defenders by various actors from January to October 2021. Meanwhile, approximately 81 people have been charged under the ITE Law, most of them accused of defamation.


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