|08JAKARTA1655||2008-09-02 08:25:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Jakarta|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001655
1. (C) SUMMARY: A prominent Indonesian freelance
writer--and former fellow at Harvard--told Labatt that he
believes that he has been under surveillance by GOI
intelligence agencies. He says this could be because of his
investigative reporting on human rights issues. He asked
that the USG keep the matter confidential at this time in
order not to draw more attention to him. Labor union
contacts also briefed Labatt about what they alleged was
surveillance and harassment by intelligence agents.
2. (C) SUMMARY (Con'd): If accurate, these cases are
possibly related to heightened GOI sensitivity in the run-up
to the 2009 national elections. Mission checked with other
contacts who are not reporting similar issues. We will
continue to monitor the situation. END SUMMARY.
3. (C) Mission has recently heard some allegations of
harassment, possibly involving official agencies. Andreas
Harsono, a leading figure in the Suharto-era free press and
democracy movement, briefed Labatt on August 26 about what he
considers to be scrutiny he has received from Indonesian
intelligence services. He speculated that the suspected
surveillance is linked to one of two issues:
-- investigative reports he co-authored with American
academic S. Eben Kirksey (please strictly protect) alleging
Indonesian military (TNI) involvement in the 2002 murder of
two Americans and one Indonesian in Timika, Papua; or,
-- articles he wrote about the 2004 murder of human rights
activist Munir Thalib.
(Note: A joint Indonesian Police-FBI investigation into the
Timika shooting found several members of an illegal Papuan
separatist group responsible for the attack. An Indonesian
court convicted them in November 2006. The convicted killer
of Munir is now in jail. A high-level intelligence official
has been charged with conspiracy in the slaying--see reftel.)
4. (C) Harsono claimed that a "student" who attended his
writing class for a time in January was an Indonesian
National Intelligence (BIN) officer, based on checking this
student's name and description with NGO sources. A scholar
Harsono knows in Papua said he has heard that security agents
are interested in him (Harsono), Harsono related. Most
recently, he received two anonymous phone calls "politely"
complaining about his articles on the Timika murders,
beginning August 17 (the day that an update of his report was
published by the British publication, "South East Asia
Research"). (Note: Mission has responded to questions about
the Harsono/Kirksey report with interagency cleared guidance
that affirms our view that justice was done in this case.)
5. (C) Harsono, a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard
University, said his suspicions are based on a "gut feeling."
He became further alarmed when Munir's widow, Suciwati,
warned him to be careful. Harsono had sent a message to a
U.S. human rights organization expressing his concern, which
DRL conveyed to Labatt. Harsono told Labatt that neither
the Mission nor DRL should take any action that would call
attention to him, and that any messages we might convey to
the GOI on his behalf would not be helpful. He said he does
not really believe he is in danger but is a little spooked.
We promised to meet regularly to monitor the situation.
JAKARTA 00001655 002 OF 002
Harsono added that he would travel to Papua in October to
investigate the human rights situation there.
REPORTS FROM LABOR UNIONS
6. (C) Separately, Labatt met with Jamie Davis
(Amcit--strictly protect), the country director of the
American Center for International Labor Solidarity
(ACILS--the international representative of the AFL-CIO) to
discuss allegations of recent harassment of ACILS-organized
labor union activities by security intelligence agents. The
agents clearly identified themselves to labor leaders when
they intruded on their activities, Davis remarked.
7. (C) Davis related that four plain clothes police officers
monitored an August 23-24 legal aid workshop held in
Surabaya, East Java, hanging around outside the meeting room,
inviting themselves to meals. They also asked for a list of
participants, which the organizers refused to provide.
8. (C) The previous week, plain clothed police officers
apparently monitored two days of an ACILS gender workshop in
Bandung, West Sumatra, but were not disruptive. Finally, a
military intelligence officer showed up at an ACILS legal aid
workshop in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, on August 23-24
inquiring about the purpose of the event, Davis asserted.
Davis did not ask that we take any action in these cases but
wanted to make sure we are informed since what he
characterized as "such blatant intrusion" has not occurred
for several years.
HEIGHTENED SENSITIVITIES IN RUN-UP TO ELECTIONS?
9. (C) One possible explanation for all this is that
elements of the GOI might be more sensitive to NGO and human
rights-related activities in the run-up to the 2009 national
elections. That said, Labatt checked with several
international NGOs working in the field of democracy and
governance. They had not noticed any unusual interest by the
GOI, however. While we will respect the wishes of Harsono
and ACILS not to call attention to their specific cases, we
will continue to monitor the situation. Such surveillance
was common under former president Suharto, but has decreased
markedly over the years.