Indonesia: Rights groups raises alarm over multiple human rights violations amid Covid-19

Indonesian government has come under the line of fire after the international human rights group criticised the government for violating multiple human rights. Amnesty international condemned the administration for ignoring human rights and overstepping democracy in the name of managing Covid-19 pandemic. The rights group brought to light the issues including medical workers’ rights, right to information, right to freedom of expression, workers’ rights and lack of social security.

On Sunday, the Amnesty International Indonesia executive director, Usman Hamid said, “It is of high importance that the government acknowledges human rights during the COVID-19 [pandemic]. Amnesty’s records show that there are many rights violations taking place in countries like Egypt and Venezuela. We don’t want it to happen here, and we must minimize any potential for violations.”

Mr Hamid highlighted that the pandemic unveiled the lack of readiness of Indonesia’s health system, which left its front line medical workers at the mercy of their fate, with a limited number of personal protective equipments (PPE). How can the government expect the medical staff to fight corona outbreak and save people’s life when their own is at greater risk.

“It is of high importance that the government acknowledges human rights during the COVID-19 [pandemic]. Amnesty’s records show that there are many rights violations taking place in countries like Egypt and Venezuela. We don’t want it to happen here, and we must minimize any potential for violations.” Usman Hamid said.

What gave a glimpse of horror was Rochsismandoko’s statement, who is a medical specialist at a private hospital in Tangerang, Banten. He told the organisation, “We appreciate the PPE donations given by individuals. Unfortunately, most of the PPE cannot be used as it doesn’t meet the certified health standards…It is not only about income; medical workers are still experiencing a bad stigma and rejection by society.”  He added that many medical workers fear getting infected, more for the fear of being sacked than as a threat to one’s life.

The government seemed to be oblivious to the state of national emergency and the level of measures and support it demands from the administration. But in terms of grabbing power its quite on the mark as it released a new order empowering the police officers to charge anyone who was found insulting the government or spreading misinformation. The spreading of misinformation definitely needs to be stopped but taking away the right to express one’s opinion over the government’s handling of the crisis, is stepping away from democracy.

The Indonesia government has been gradually stepping away from transparency and accountability too. On one hand the government failed to reveal the true figures during the early days of outbreak, while on other it failed to provide relief to millions workers (from informal and formal sector) who suffered the most in the pandemic attack. The data released earlier this month by the Manpower Ministry, revealed that over 1 million formal workers lost their job and about 315,000 daily wage workers are battling to survive with no incomes. Andriko Otang, executive director of the Trade Union Rights Center (TURC), said the government’s policies worsened the plight of workers. He said, “The PSBB policy provides exceptions for manufacturing industries or export-oriented industries to stay fully operational during this pandemic, forcing millions of workers to continue working and facing risk.”

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Rashmi Sacher

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