TAPOL Statement regarding the attack against Veronica Koman’s family and situation of Human Rights Defenders in Indonesia

9 Nov 2021

TAPOL is deeply concerned about a series of escalating threats and attacks made against the family of prominent Indonesian human rights lawyer and defender, Veronica Koman in Jakarta. These threats and attacks indicate a worsening situation for human rights lawyers and defenders in Indonesia, with other prominent human rights defenders being subjected to police investigations. 

The incidents against Koman’s family have in recent weeks involved an arson attack outside the house of her parents on 24th October. Two weeks later, on Sunday 7th November, assailants left an explosive device outside her parents’ house. A package containing a dead chicken was also sent to a different relative, with a note stating that “anyone who helps to hide Veronica Koman will end up like this”. 

TAPOL is concerned that, particularly in Koman’s case, the police are responsible for conducting an investigation into the attacks on the family but had also previously paid unsolicited visits to the same family residence in Jakarta. Koman lives in self-imposed exile in Australia and was put on a so-called ‘police search list’ (Daftar Pencarian Orang, DPO) following social media posts she made in support of West Papuan students who were subjected to racial abuse in 2019. 

Other human rights defenders are now being subjected to police investigations with complaints having been initiated by government ministers. Furthermore, in October 2020, prominent environmental activist Golfrid Siregar died of suspicious circumstances in North Sumatra. One conclusion to be drawn about at least some of these incidents is that the police, due to their previous record in relation to Koman and others, and willingness to pursue dubious investigations at the behest of politicians, may require careful independent scrutiny to ensure that its investigations are carried out objectively. 
Human rights defenders and activists in Indonesia are facing increasing risks to their own personal safety and the safety of their family members. We demand that the Indonesian Government conduct a thorough investigation of attacks against Koman, and desist from criminalising human rights defenders. Any investigation must be conducted by the police through the fairest possible means, taking account of making police investigations at all times impartial and subject to independent oversight.