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The Impact of Indonesia’s 2019 Presidential Campaign on the Human Rights Movement: Narrow Solidarity versus Affinity

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Document pages: 27 pages

Abstract: In the April 2019 elections in Indonesia, the incumbent president, Mr. Joko Widodo, was pitched against former general Mr. Prabowo Subianto. Mr. Widodo won his first termwith a strong human rights agendathat was supported by thousands of human rights activists. In his 2019 campaign,the focus was on the country’s economic development. During this campaign, authoritarian tools werewidely used to stifle criticism of the incumbent. The human rights movementbecame strongly polarized between adherents of the two presidential candidates.Both camps waged a fierce social media war in which hoaxes and slander werespread. The political blocs quickly reconciled after the elections, strivingfor a politics based on consensus. Army factions and Muslim parties that hadsupported the different sides also soon closed ranks. However, the fracturingof the human rights movement into two opposing camps remained also after theelections. This led to its enervation in relation to several illiberalimmediate post-election reforms. In this article, I focus on four cases to analyse the divisivedynamics within the human rights movement. These are the post-October 1965genocide, the weakening of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the revision of theCriminal Code, and the Anti-Sexual Violence Bill. Problems of solidaritypolitics will be pointed out. I will examine some hoaxes in social media asthey are informative of the discourse in this heated period. The human rightsdebate between the two candidates on 17 January 2019 will also be discussed.Although external factors such as the growing influence of conservativemajoritarian Islam played a major role in the inability of the human rightsmovement to stop the weakening of the Anti-Corruption Commission, and thedeliberations on the revision of the Criminal Code, I focus here on thefragmentation and polarization of the movement and the failure of theparticipants to engage in affinity politics based on shared interests.

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