INDONESIA: Stop violence and protect Rempang residents’ rights

Hong Kong, Thursday 14, 2023

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) supports 130 Indonesian civil society organisations from the Aceh Province to the Papua Province to put pressure on the Indonesian Government, especially President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), to stop the Rempang Eco City project, stop blockades and evictions, and urge troops to unconditionally release residents of the Rempang Island of Riau Islands who were arrested and detained because of involvement in the peaceful protest against forced eviction between 7 and 11 September 2023.

According to the media and local sources, on Monday the 11th of September, the Barelang Police Resort (Polresta Barelang) has restricted the freedom of 34 residents and named the 34 people as suspects in the protest against the relocation of 16 Rempang Island Old Villages in front of the BP Batam office.

The Executive Director of the AHRC, Prakash Mohara stated:The Indonesian Government, especially the Police, must stop the repressive approach and respect the right to the freedom of expression of the Rempang Island residents. All forms of violence and violations of the law that occur against Rempang residents must be investigated and prosecuted according to fair trial principles.”

Additionally, he stated: We consider that what the Police did on September 7, 2023, has sparked anger among the Indonesian people nationally and has made the wider community increasingly distrustful of the current Government which is more pro-investor and does not protect and respect the people’s rights as mandated by the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.”

The desire to evict the people of the Rempang Island cannot be separated from Jokowi’s steps in meeting with a number of Chief Executive Officers in China, at the end of July 2023. On this occasion Jokowi signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build industries on the Rempang Island, Riau Islands. The Indonesian people should criticise Jokowi’s move because in the field, the Police has used violence to peg and measure the land on the Rempang Island.

Problematic national strategic project

The AHRC and the National Solidarity for Rempang invite all levels of the Indonesian society to continue to build solidarity with the people of the Rempang Island who are currently fighting to seize their rights.

We assess that what happened on the Rempang Island shows the Government’s failure to carry out the mandate of the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia (UUD 1945) which states that the purpose of establishing the State was to protect the entire Indonesian nation and all of Indonesia’s natural resources, promote general welfare, and educate the life of the nation. Apart from that, we also asses that the State has failed to implement Article 33 of the Indonesia Constitution which states that the earth and water and the natural resources contained therein are controlled by the State and used for the greatest prosperity of the Indonesian people.