“In Search of Human Rights in Democratic Indonesia” Panel Discussion

Kompas – Asia Institute, University of Melbourne
Jakarta, 24 January 2017

Indonesia has fundamentally transformed its political institutions over the two decades since the end of authoritarian rule, but a gap between democratic achievement and human rights has persisted. In January 2017, a team from the University of Melbourne took up Indonesia's stalled progress in the area of human rights in a half-day forum with senior editorial staff of Indonesia's national broadsheet newspaper Kompas, along with leading Indonesian academics and human rights activists. Hosted by Kompas, the “In Search of Human Rights in Democratic Indonesia” panel explored the prospects to advance human rights in Indonesia in an age of increasing populism and declining commitments to human rights globally, while also delving in depth into specific areas of Indonesia's human rights record, such as the death penalty, land rights, protection of minorities and the performance of Indonesia's national human rights commission.

The Asia Institute was represented at the forum by Professor Vedi Hadiz, Dr Dave McRae and Dr Ken Setiawan, joined by the editor of the Indonesia at Melbourne blog, Mr Tim Mann, and Dr Rachael Diprose (School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne). Also in attendance were Ninuk Mardiana Pambudy (deputy editor-in-chief, Kompas), Dr Robertus Robet (Jakarta State University) and Mr Usman Hamid (Change.org), as well as various Kompas journalists. Suraya Affif (University of Indonesia), an Asia Scholar at the University of Melbourne from 2017, moderated the forum. Overall, the panel was a wonderful opportunity for academics from the Asia Institute and the University of Melbourne to share and discuss recent research with a group of eminent Indonesian interlocutors.

The panel received extensive coverage in Kompas, Indonesia's highest circulation newspaper with a wide readership within government and academia, including two front-page articles covering the event. A fuller two-page spread inside of Kompas on the issues raised by the panellists also prominently featured the expertise of Asia institute staff in particular. Kompas also ran a front-page op-ed by Professor Hadiz the day before the forum. Congratulations to all involved on the success of this event!

Read the Kompas account of the panel.