Indonesia and Human Rights

Author and Page information

  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Saturday, July 21, 2001

This web page has the following sub-sections:

  1. Indonesia and East Timor
  2. Other areas of Indonesia also Facing Abuses

Indonesia and East Timor

The situation in East Timor has been terrible for many decades, where the occupying Indonesian army has brutally killed many many East Timorese.

Check out this site's section on East Timor for more information about the US, UK support for the invasion and continuing arms sales to Indonesia, about Indonesia's regime to support the killings and massacres in East Timor, the media coverage and more.

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Other areas of Indonesia also Facing Abuses

With East Timorese having gone through so much to gain independence from Indonesia, some of the other regions within Indonesia have been ignored. In some areas, brutal repression has been going on for years. Take the following for example

  • In Aceh (also Acheh or Atjeh):
    • There have been many human rights abuses (supported by the Indonesian military) that are being ignored in various parts of Aceh.
    • Some of the comparisons in this Human Rights Watch backgrounder suggests that the problems in Aceh could be larger than those seen in East Timor.
    • Amnesty International reports a similarity to East Timor where "anyone who reports on the human rights situation is being targetted and driven away to ensure that there are no witnesses to the excesses of the security forces", or, as per another report from them, others are being imprisoned as political prisoners.
    • Oil and natural gas is another major factor, with ExxonMobil being mentioned by some human rights groups as needing to be accountable for some of the problems there.
    • ExxonMobil is facing a lawsuit from the International Labor Rights Fund on charges of complicity with Indonesian security forces in committing serious human rights abuses in Aceh. For more about Exxon-Mobil related reports see the following:
    • Abundant oil, natural gas and other resources in Aceh explains the large interest there and the exploitation of local people.
    • For more on Aceh, you can also visit:
  • There have also been killings and other human rights violations from demonstrations and fights for independence in Irian Jaya (West Paupua).
  • The Molucca islands:
    • The Spice Islands, as they are also known, and its capital Ambon, has seen riots since 1997 that are still occurring today.
    • Hundreds have been killed due to tensions between Christians and Muslims.
    • Indonesia is isolating the island to "prevent rumors and press reports from fanning sectarian violence." This could also be seen as a move to prevent journalists reporting on any atrocities that may occur after the isolation. There are about two million people in the region where only a slight majority are Muslim and the others are mainly Christian.
  • There have been massacres of Ulemas in East and Middle Java from 1995-1997.
  • In the island of Borneo, there has been violence by Dayaks natives against Madurese settlers.

These issues had largely gone unreported by the western mainstream media, before the East Timor crisis broke out, although groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, as well as others have continued to mention it. As political and economic problems are affecting Indonesia (and therefore western business interests there), more reporting on the region is very slowly coming out although these conflicts are still less mentioned.

To start off with then, as well as the links above, the following may provide additional information:

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Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
  • Created: Monday, July 20, 1998
  • Last Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2001

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