Intimidation of government critics in Indonesia raises concerns about freedom of speech

Scholars and activists have raised concern about the freedom of speech in Indonesia following alleged acts of intimidation against critics of the government’s policy to restrict mobility to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bivitri Susanti, a constitutional law expert from the Jakarta-based Jentera School of Law, said people opposed to any criticism of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration had been “wild” lately.

The alleged intimidation took various forms, ranging from social media account hacks to death threats.

She said that, based on her own experience, she had often been verbally attacked after she had criticised the government, whatever the issue was.

“Who does this? Who threatens us? If I look closer, besides the buzzers, my own circle [scholars] are doing that, too. What’s going on?” she said in a virtual panel discussion on the freedom of speech with other experts on Monday.

Some of the recent threats followed online discussions about the constitutional mechanism for removing a president from office.

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