Jember, East Java (ANTARA) - SEPAHAM Indonesia, a human rights teaching union, has staunchly sought the postponement of the 2020 regional head elections (Pilkada) to safeguard human rights amid a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide.

"Similar calls to postpone Pilkada were voiced by many parties, including the two largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, but have been ignored," SEPAHAM Indonesia Coordinator Al Hanif PhD stated here on Tuesday.

The House of Representatives (DPR), government, and election organizers are on the same page to go ahead with organizing Pilkada on December 9, 2020, with an appeal to the public to abide by stringent health protocols.

"The agreement, in fact, was reached at a time when the rate of COVID-19 transmission continues to increase, including the number of deaths that had been rising," he remarked.

On the same day when the decision was taken in Parliament on September 21, 2020, Indonesia recorded the highest number of fresh cases, reaching 4,176, within 24 hours, thereby bringing the tally to 249,852, while the death toll reached 9,677.

"The government today failed to control the rate of casualties arising from the novel coronavirus disease, and there are no indications of the number of confirmed cases decreasing. Moreover, officials of several ministries, KPU (General Election Commission), Bawaslu (Election Supervisory Board), as well as those also involved in organizing elections contracted COVID-19," he pointed out.

Hanif pointed out that the calls to postpone the 2020 Pilkada had been voiced by several parties, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, as well as numerous community leaders, civil society organizations, and coalitions that care for the people's rights.

"The voice of the people has made us academics, researchers, from centers of human rights studies on various campuses, to voice the same appeal that the government should postpone the 2020 Pilkada," he stated.

Hanif pointed to the firm stance of SEPAHAM Indonesia against the joint agreement of the DPR, government, and election organizers to hold the 2020 Pilkada.

"For us, this decision not only reflects insensitivity to the voice of the people but also ignores the protection of basic rights of the public currently struggling to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic," Hanif, concurrently chairperson of the CHRM2 research center of the University of Jember, stated.

"The decision to proceed with the regional head elections, for us, is akin to a state crime against human rights since the risk of people falling victims to the disease is being neglected, and the government has especially failed to control the pandemic since the past seven months," he added.
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Translator: Zumrotun S, Fardah
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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