Indonesia: Human Rights Group Amnesty International Says Gov't Approach in Tackling Hate Speech Is Wrong

Posted In: News Date:Feb 25th, 2018

Jakarta. Amnesty International Indonesia on Thursday (22/02) pointed out that the government’s approach to tackle hate speech in the country has blindsided minority groups.

"Often times the government chooses a side, and forces minority groups to yield to the majority in order to prevent that same hate speech. This approach is wrong," the executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, told reporters in Jakarta.

In June last year, the local government in Depok, West Java, sealed a mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyya religious minority, which many Islamic groups in the archipelago consider deviant and outside of Islam.

In September, the police banned a closed-door discussion featuring survivors of the 1965 communist purge at the office of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

Despite groups' freedoms, particularly on assembly and religion, authorities continue to prosecute minority sects for simply exercising their rights on the basis of curbing hate speech or restoring public order.

"The purpose of putting an end to hate speech is valid, but the approach to make that happen has been erroneous. In practice, they have deviated from basic human rights principles," Usman said.

Sandrayati Moniaga, vice chairwoman for external affairs at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said the government must be proactive in supporting the country’s democracy.

"It’s important to ensure that law enforcement authorities are professional, and the government is not implicitly supporting hate speech or violent extremism," Sandrayati said.