Shrinking Civic Space in Indonesia Recurred in People Water Forum 2024

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Shrinking Civic Space in Indonesia Recurred in People Water Forum 2024, Bali
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)

Bali, 20 May 2024 – Indonesian Civil Society Organizations would like to express our deepest regret and concern in regards to the repressive acts carried out by Patriot Garuda Nusantara (PGN) mass organisation to the People Water Forum (PWF) participants and committees. The event itself was supposed to be a triennial event to gather aspirations from grass root communities regarding water justice issues. Furthermore, the forum was intended to criticize water privatization and encourage water management for the welfare of the people as the forum will then urge recommendations to national and international governmental bodies who are convening in World Water Forum 2024 (WWF).

However, it was recorded that PGN forcibly confiscated banners, billboards, agenda attributes, and even carried out physical violence against several forum participants who have yet entered the venue.  The organizing committee has experienced various forms of intimidation which were allegedly carried out to hinder the implementation of the PWF since May 4th 2024. The intimidation started with the police visiting one of the Director of Bintang Gana Foundation’s (as the national implementing committee) house to cancel the venue and accommodation, even to the point of hacking several of the committees’ social media accounts. 

We are deeply aware that the government uses excessive forces to create horizontal conflict within the people involved in PWF and the mass of PGN. We condemn all coercive acts by the government that are used against civil society. 

We are also aware that on 21 May 2024, exactly the next day after the attempt to dismiss the forum, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Water and Sanitation Pedro Arrojo Agudo’s arrival to the PWF venue was denied entry by PGN, municipal police (Satpol PP), and the Bali Regional Police. His Excellency’s arrival was to discuss with the victims of the violation of the water rights. This was a very regrettable move and has shown us forms of repression and the shrinking democratic act of freedom of assembly. 

It is acknowledged that Indonesia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) through Article 28 No.3 of the 1945 Constitution where it is highlighted specifically in Article 21 and 22 that the state should protect the civilians rights to exercise the freedom of peaceful assembly. Also noted that in March 2024, Indonesia have just received the concluding observation of ICCPR where the committee highlighted their regret in regards to the “significant reports of harassment, intimidation, surveillance, and the excessive use of force by peaceful protesters and members of civil society”. Hence, the incident elaborated above is still relevant to the committee’s review.

Furthermore, we assess that the repression of civil liberties continues to recur during the implementation of international forums and is deliberately intended to be perpetuated as happened during Indonesia’s G20 Summit and ASEAN Summit 2023. The municipal police and Bali Regional Police were bystanders of the threatening event in which they, as state apparatus, should ensure the protection of civil rights to the rights of peaceful assembly and association which is guaranteed by the mentioned constitution. 

Thus, we would like to urge the following recommendations:

First, the National Police of the Republic of Indonesia, especially the Bali Regional Police, took immediate and comprehensive legal action against the perpetrators committed acts of violence against the 2024 PWF Organizing Committee and Participants including PGN;

Second, Komnas HAM immediately carried out an investigation into the alleged connection between a number of incidents of civil liberties repression and Pam Swakarsa policies;

Third, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia must guarantee, respect and fulfill everyone’s human rights in accordance with the Constitution and applicable laws. As a UN Human Rights Council, Indonesia is committed to be the model of how human rights are supposed to be implemented;

Fourth, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to formally and sincerely apologize to the civil society components who were victims of the past repressive acts.


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