Subject: Hundreds of Indonesian Human Rights Activists Convenes in Jakarta

[Fine as far as it goes, but no attention is given to the parlous situation in West Papua and whether the forthcoming elections are relevant for the people of Papua. See the report from Guardian Weekly today which describes West Papua as a Death Zone because of the prevalence of HIV/AID as well as many preventable diseases. TAPOL]

The Jakarta Globe Thursday, March 19, 2009

Human Rights Congress Convenes

Farouk Arnaz

Hundreds of human rights victims and activists from across the country met in Jakarta on Tuesday to canvass their aspirations for the upcoming elections, including whether they would abstain from voting, one of the organizers said.

"We are providing the time to listen to what their political hopes are, as victims, for the next elections," said Yati Andriyani, who heads the organizing committee of the Human Rights Defenders Congress.

The congress, which will conclude on Friday, is being attended by activists as well as human rights victims from Ambon, Aceh, Papua, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, West Java, Central Java and Jakarta.

Participants, Yati said, will also include in their discussions whether they will cast their votes on election day on April 9, or become part of the Golput , or white group, a designation for vote abstainers.

Addressing the congress will be scholars such as Rocky Gerung, from state-run Indonesia University, and Galuh Wandita, the director of the International Center for Transnational Justice, or ICTJ, Jakarta.

"We demand that anyone elected in the next election puts human rights on their agenda," Yati added.

"Maybe we have not achieved the justice that we have demanded so far, but we will tell our offspring whether our government lies," said Murtala, victim of a 1999 military shooting at Simpang KKA in North Aceh.

He said that he felt proud to attend the congress, since participants were given respect.

"I am also proud to attend, because here we are not just referred to as a victim, but also as a hero," he said.

Hamzah A. Gani, a human rights victim from Ambon, said Indonesian human rights victims stood a chance of getting some changes in the country if they acted united.

"As victims, we have the potential to make a change in this country, if we demand it together," he said.

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