Golfrid Siregar, an activist with the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), was found unconscious with serious injured on a street in Medan, Sumatra, on 3rd October.
Golfrid was taken to a local hospital, after being discovered by a pedicab driver, but never regained consciousness and died on 6th October.
In response, Walhi has urged the police to conduct an independent investigation into the death of the activist. They claim there are suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and that Golfrid’s job could have made him a target.
Before the incident, Golfrid had represented the Indonesian Forum for the Environment in a lawsuit against North Sumatra’s governor. The case was regarding the governor’s approval of the construction of the US$1.5 billion Batang Toru hydroelectric dam in 2017.
Golfrid, on behalf of Walhi, stated that there was a problem in reference to the permit issuance process. He had also sought legal action against the police in a related matter – for their alleged failure to adequately respond to a complaint.
State news agency Antara has reported that the police initially said the incident appeared to be a traffic accident. However, on Thursday 10th October Medan’s chief detective, Eko Hartanto, said the pedicab driver and two other men who took Golfrid to hospital, had become suspects for stealing the victim’s belongings such as a bag, laptop, wallet, and phone.
Walhi explained that Golfrid suffered injuries to his head that appeared to come from a blunt object, but there were no wounds on other parts of his body.
Another institution also has raised this case. Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Papang Hidayat said there should be an independent investigation, “because the victim had raised cases on environmental and human rights crimes against local people, whose network of perpetrators don’t only involve corporations but also the state apparatus”.
Source: Reuters, Human Rights Watch