Indonesia must immediately stop threats, intimidation and reprisals against human rights defender Veronica Koman and her family, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, said today.
Koman, a human and minority rights lawyer, is in self-imposed exile in Australia. However, she still faces several charges in Indonesia for alleged incitement, spreading fake news, displaying race-based hatred and disseminating information aimed at inflicting ethnic hatred. The charges were believed to have been brought against her in retaliation to her work advocating for human rights in West Papua.
Koman was among five other human rights defenders mentioned in the UN Secretary-General’s 2021 annual report on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights. She has faced threats, harassment and intimidation for her reporting on West Papua and Papua provinces, for providing reports to UN human rights mechanisms, and for attending UN meetings, for which she was questioned by security forces.
“This case highlights how human rights defenders are often targeted for their cooperation with the United Nations, which is fundamental to their peaceful and legitimate work in the protection and promotion of human rights,” Lawlor said.
Acts of intimidation and threats against Koman’s family have also been reported this year, most recently on 7 November, when unidentified individuals threw two small explosive boxes inside the garage of her parents’ home in West Jakarta.
The boxes reportedly contained threatening messages, including one stating “we will scorch the earth of wherever you hide and of your protectors.” Another box addressed to Koman, delivered to the home of a family member, contained a dead chicken and a message saying that anyone hiding her “will end up like this.”