This week Just Asia focuses on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, marked annually on August 30. Enforced disappearance is frequently used to spread terror within society. Many states use counter terrorist activities as an excuse for overlooking or perpetrating disappearances. Not only is there widespread impunity for enforced disappearances, but those dealing with cases of disappearances, whether lawyers, human rights defenders, relatives of victims or witnesses, also face harassment.
In Indonesia, cases of past disappearances have remained untouchable under three years of President Joko Widodo’s administration. The 1997-1998 disappearance of 13 student activists is particularly troubling. Although the House of Representatives issued four recommendations to the President regarding disappearances, none have been followed up. Instead, Cabinet Minister Retired Army General Wiranto, has proposed a reconciliation commission to address the abuses, rather than criminal prosecution.
Moving to Nepal, the country’s Commission of Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons has received more than 13, 000 complaints of disappeared persons during Nepal’s armed insurgency from 1996 – 2006. Working since 2015, the Commission has not made public the progress on investigating the complaints. In fact, there is much dissatisfaction with its work.
Next, United Nations investigators on Monday called for Burma’s “top military generals, including Commander-in-Chief, Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing” to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya minority. The UN-backed fact-finding mission found horrifying atrocities committed against the Rohingya, including murder, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and other sexual violence “perpetrated on a massive scale”.
In India, the Pune Police have shockingly conducted coordinated raids on the homes of human rights activists in six cities across the country. Five activists were arrested, allegedly for violence during protests at Bhima-Koregaon outside Pune, Maharashtra in December 2017 and for links to Maoist organisations. The arrests are indicative of a breakdown in India’s rule of law, as police officers have been accused of not following due process and using the law to intimidate and harass those fighting for human rights.
Finally, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features one case from Indonesia.
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