New Report Showcases Prominence of Hate-Filled Politics in 2017


FEBRUARY 23, 2018

Jakarta. Hate-filled politics gained prominence in Indonesia throughout 2017, with various actors utilizing religious morality and narrow nationalist sentiments to incite hatred toward those deemed "different," Amnesty International Indonesia said on Thursday (22/02).

"In Indonesia, hate-filled politics took the form of state and non-state actors exploiting religious morality and narrow nationalist sentiments to rally their followers and Indonesian society to hate those who are 'different,'" the executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, told reporters in Jakarta.

Prejudicial attitudes and speech have been directed towards groups or individuals deemed to be anti-Islam or deviants of Islam, anti-nationalists and communists.

The London-based Amnesty International on Thursday launched its annual report, "State of the World’s Human Rights," which analyzed sociopolitical conditions in 159 countries, including Indonesia.

The report took note of various incidents that took place last year, including the sentencing of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in May to two years’ imprisonment for "insulting Islam" under the country’s archaic blasphemy laws.

"Leaders of groups like FPI [Islamic Defenders Front], Rizieq Shihab, used hate rhetoric to move the masses and demand the police to put Ahok on trial for insulting religion. It can be said that the hate narrative against Ahok is based on his status as an ethnic and religious minority," Usman said.

Throughout last year, Amnesty International found that 11 people were found guilty by the country's courts under the same blasphemy law, which often targets individuals belonging to minority religions or faiths.


The report also criticized President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for signing a 2017 government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) in July, which expands the government’s ability to dismantle mass organizations deemed as threats to national security and national unity, previously outlined in the 2013 Law on Mass Organizations.

The Perppu is perceived as undemocratic and prone to abuse, as it allows organizations to be shut down without a valid legal process.

According to Usman, the Perppu is a state-sponsored hate measure disguised under the pretext of preventing the spread of radicalism across the archipelago.

"This Perppu limits the freedom of assembly, opinion, religion and faith," Usman said.

The new regulation, along with the spread of hate politics in the country, provided space for different groups to enforce rhetoric against the spread of communism in Indonesia.

This includes the disruption of a workshop in Jakarta concerning the findings of the International Peoples Tribunal 1965 in East Jakarta by local police and the military in August, as well as the assembly of around 1,000 people surrounding the office of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, who claimed to be "anti-communists," in September.

Human Rights Across the World

Hate-filled rhetoric, according to Amnesty International, is evident in many countries across the globe.

This includes US President Donald Trump’s move to ban the entry of people from several Muslim-majority countries, and the human rights abuses against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

The annual report also raised concerns over prominent leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who have seemingly abandoned the principles of human rights.

However, the human rights organization also took note of a growing movement among first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice.

Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said the growth of the women’s movement, as showcased by the Women’s March and the #MeToo phenomenon, indicate a hopeful response in the fight against oppression.

"The indomitable spirit of the women leading powerful human rights movements reminds us that the desire for equality, dignity and justice will never be extinguished. There is a palpable sense that protest movements are on the rise globally. If governments stand against such movements, they will erode their legitimacy," Shetty said in a statement.