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Amnesty International’s 2023 Report on Indonesia: Human rights challenges amidst political tensions

Amnesty International’s 2023 report on Indonesia highlights severe human rights abuses, including unlawful killings in Papua, suppression of protests, and inadequate environmental policies.



Amnesty International has released its 2023 report on Indonesia as part of its broader “The State of the World’s Human Rights” series, examining human rights conditions across 155 countries.

This year’s report on Indonesia highlights the government’s harsh crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, rampant abuse by security forces, and continued neglect of communities affected by large-scale development projects.

Tensions and Unlawful Actions in Papua

Significant human rights violations occurred in the Papua region, where the Indonesian military intensified operations, leading to unlawful killings and torture.

The security situation escalated following the February hostage-taking of a New Zealand pilot by the National Liberation Army of Free Papua Organization (TPNPB-OPM) at Paro Airport.

Military responses, including the raising of combat alert levels and troop deployments, heightened concerns about civilian safety in the Nduga and surrounding areas.

Throughout the year, at least 26 incidents involving security forces resulted in the deaths of 58 individuals in Papua.

In a notable case from September, five Indigenous Papuans were killed in Dekai, Yahukimo regency, under circumstances that local sources claim did not involve active conflict with armed groups, suggesting an excessive use of force by security personnel.

Suppression of Freedom of Assembly and Expression

Indonesia saw a troubling pattern of arrests and violent suppression of peaceful protesters.

In West Sumatra, for instance, 18 individuals were detained during a protest at a mosque against a proposed oil and petrochemical refinery, with police actions including the physical removal and assault of demonstrators and journalists.

Similarly, in Bandung, West Java, security forces used tear gas and made several arrests during a protest against evictions, resulting in injuries among the demonstrators.

The government also continued to target individuals and groups voicing dissent, particularly those advocating for the independence of Papua.

At least three Papuan activists were imprisoned for treason after participating in a peaceful vigil, highlighting the ongoing restrictions on freedom of expression.

Torture and Ill-Treatment by Security Forces

Reports of torture and other forms of ill-treatment by security forces were widespread, particularly in areas with significant military presence like Papua.

An alarming incident in April involved the torture of six Indigenous Papuans by the military, one of whom died from his injuries. Despite these severe violations, accountability for perpetrators remained elusive.

Challenges in Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

The Indonesian government’s approach to development and land management also came under scrutiny.

The Rempang Eco-City project, for example, faced strong opposition from the Tempatan Indigenous Peoples and other local communities due to inadequate consultation and the threat of displacement.

Protests against this project were met with heavy-handed security responses, further exacerbating tensions between the government and local communities.

Environmental Concerns

On the environmental front, Indonesia’s continued reliance on coal for energy, despite increasing international pressure to reduce carbon emissions, poses a significant challenge.

The government’s plans to phase out fossil fuels were criticized for being insufficient and not aligning with the urgent need for climate action.

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