Threats and Violence: A Narrative of Human Rights Violations against Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Three Regions (North Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi and West Papua)

Threats and violence that afflict environmental human rights defenders in various regions have lately attracted the attention of many parties, especially Civil Society Organizations. Not only doing mentoring work, for victim assistance and policy, several Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) move further by conducting studies on the situation. These studies were carried out in a variety of ways, some of which making the situation of environmental human rights defenders as the main topic of study,1 while others added it as a new variable into the study of human rights situations in general – as routinely carried out every year by several NGOs.

The existence of the studies mentioned above must be acknowledged to have given us wider knowledge about the level of threats that are actually being faced by environmental human rights defenders. As a new issue in the discourse of human rights in Indonesia, data on violence and threats to environmental human rights defenders can be said to be very lacking beforehand. Nonetheless, the studies above still leave a major disadvantage, namely the question of the depth of knowledge about threats and violence itself.

The extent to which threats and violence have an influence on the lives of environmental human rights defenders in Indonesia remains perhaps a mystery to most people. The existing description generally rests only on quantitative data with several of them emphasizing the analysis of violations of human rights and the network of actors involved in them. This is certainly far from adequate, because threats and violence have a complexity that is only possible to be analyzed if approached by direct observation.

Based on the consideration to complement the shortcomings of the studies that have been done before, ELSAM conducts a qualitative study whose report is presented here. This study is not without challenges. Limitations of time that only allowed this study to take place in three regions have raised concerns that this study does not adequately provide an illustration of the complexity of human rights violations against environmental human rights defenders. How Ever, we realize that the complexities that exist in every human rights violation, including those that afflict environmental human rights defenders, are pieces of a big puzzle. Thus, even a narrow scope of work in the attempt to unravel the complexity must be interpreted as an effort to complete the puzzle. This means that this kind of work will never be in vain, and it is always important to continue in the future. In the end, we hope you enjoy reading this report.

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