Persecution, harassment and cyberbullying are on the rise this year in Indonesia with a significant increase in cases reported since May as the country remains divided over intolerance issues.
Damar Juniarto, Regional Coordinator at SAFEnet, a regional organisation protecting freedom of expression, said harassment and intimidation are threatening the freedom of speech and democracy in Indonesia. He called for persecution to be taken seriously as it creates social unrest by spreading fear within the community.
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has himself condemned persecution, saying it is in opposition to the principles of the country and called for the phenomenon to end.
“It’s contradicting the principles of the law we have. Whether it is done by individuals or in groups or even by organisations, they can’t be pardoned to do any kind of persecution,” he said.
The Anti Persecution Coalition has received 87 reported cases of persecution from January to June this year, highlighting the rapid increase.
“According to our data, there are 66 reported cases of persecution. There are also 12 other cases that allegedly assumed as the acts of persecution. Seven others are categorized as leading to persecution acts and the remaining two cases as the impact of persecution acts,” Anti Persecution Coalition representative Alissa Wahid said.
The data suggest patterns in who is targeted, particularly based on political beliefs, race and ethnicity, culture, religion and gender.
“Still, the act of persecution is universally prohibited,” said Wahid.
Wahid warns that persecution can lead to social unrest and even death, with many cases ending in physical and mental trauma.
“Don’t treat persecution cases with other persecution acts, let alone sentencing the persecuted victims under Criminal Law. If that happens, it would be the same as justifying what the persecutor has done as the right thing to do,” she said.
Persecution acts can be sentenced under a range of laws include threats and child protection.
Image credits: Inspirasi Bangsa