Right of Reply Delegation of the Republic of Indonesia to the statement made by Vanuatu, 1 July 2021

July 1, 2021 Topics, Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues


We wish to exercise our right of reply to the statement made by Vanuatu.

      In Indonesia, the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression is guaranteed under Article 28 of our Constitution.

      Consequently, the State has consistently facilitated these rights – both at national and sub national levels, that involves all branches of government, as well as other national institutions such the Komnas HAM dan the Ombudsman Indonesia.

      As a full-fledged democracy, the right to organize and to peacefully participate in demonstrations is ingrained in Indonesia’s daily reality. A brief scan through Indonesian media outlets, especially prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, can attest to this fact.

      Furthermore, throughout the implementation of physical distancing during the pandemic, countless online discussions on a range of issues that are critical to government policies, including regarding Papua, have been held without any interruption.

      Indonesia categorically rejects the atrocious claim made by Vanuatu that, I quote, “Papuan protesters are labelled as terrorists and deprived of their rights to peaceful assembly” – end of quote.  This is, one hundred and ten percent, absolute disinformation – the type of heinous disinformation that the Special Rapporteur warned against, earlier today.

      Regretfully such false information continues to be nurtured by Vanuatu, amidst the openness of Indonesian authority to have cordial bilateral relation.

      If Vanuatu actually did the minimum amount of research, the designation of “terrorists” has never been in any way attached to any protester in Indonesia. Between September 2020 to May 2021 -in the middle of a global pandemic-, in a span of just 9 months alone, more than 10 wide scale demonstrations have been facilitated by the national and sub national authorities in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua. Before the pandemic, this number is much, much higher.

      As a nation that believes on democracy and practices good governance, we trust on our checks and balance mechanism as well as our national remedy. We believe inclusivity is key for human rights respect. In this regard all stakeholders contribute significantly to the advancement of human rights. Any act of terror against them, are in violation of our national legislation. Therefore, to allege deprivation of the rights to peaceful assembly is nothing other than a barefaced lie.

Vice President,

      The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression is not absolute. Based on our national laws, the promotion of separatism, and incitement of violence are criminal acts. We therefore reiterate the position that the promotion of separatism and violence does not fall under the category of peaceful assembly.

      The limitations to the exercise of the right to the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are clearly set out in Article 19(3) of the ICCPR, to which Indonesia is party to.

      The Government of Indonesia has been and will continue to guarantee the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of expression insofar as those rights do not contravene prevailing laws and regulations.

      When these rights are abused, for example to promote separatism and the destruction of public and private property, it no longer becomes a question of freedom of expression or assembly, but rather, becomes a clear violation of our prevailing laws, as well as the principles of the UN Charter.

      It is therefore irresponsible for Vanuatu to have the audacity to intentionally mis-represent and lie aboutthe implementation of the right to the freedom of assembly in Indonesia.

      Instead of continuously undermining the progress and sovereignty of Indonesia, it would be in Vanuatu’s interest to instead focus more on improving its own state of affairs.

      It is absolutely ludicrous for Vanuatu to speak on the freedoms being implemented in another country, while, as I speak, it is in the process of stifling freedom of expression through the amendment of its own Criminal Code, striking at the heart of democracy.

      Indonesia therefore once again invites Vanuatu to work together in a spirit of brotherhood and collaboration instead of continuing its false and politically motivated aggression against a democratic and sovereign State.