Rights activists have slammed the national election organizing body for not including human rights as one of the topics to be tabled in a series of debates between the two presidential candidates ahead of the July 9 poll.
The groups, led by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, said they had long recommended to the General Elections Commission, or KPU, that it make the issue a central theme of one of the five scheduled debates, the first of which took place on Monday.
“At the very least the KPU should give us some explanation rather than remain silent,” Yati Andriyani, the deputy of Kontras, said as quoted by Kompas.com.
She added that the groups had pushed for human rights to be debated because of the checkered track record of Prabowo Subianto, one of the two candidates, a former Army general who has been dogged for years about alleged rights abuses in East Timor and the abduction of pro-democracy activists in Jakarta.
“Kidnapping is a severe human rights violation. That was the basis of our recommendation to the KPU,” Yati said.
The groups first made their recommendation to the KPU on March 14, and then again on June 2.
Kontras had also previously called on the KPU to reject the candidacy of any individual with a history of human rights abuses, prior to the deadline for candidates to register their bids last month.
Hendardi, the chairman of the Setara Institute, a think tank that advocates for peace and democracy, accused the KPU of willfully overlooking the allegations hanging over Prabowo.
“The ones who are going to lose out because of this are the Indonesian people,” he said.
The theme for Monday’s debate was development of democracy, clean government ad legal certainty. The second debate, next Sunday, will focus on economic development and welfare.
The third, on June 22, will center on domestic politics, while the fourth, on June 29, will talk about human resources development and science and technology.
The final debate, on July 5, will focus on food, energy and the environment.