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18 Oct 2021


Asia: Joint analysis by two human rights organisations finds business increasingly perpetrates attacks on HRDs

'[Joint Analysis] Refusing Silence: A joint analysis on the situation of Human Rights Defenders', 13 October 2021

Over the past two years, human rights defenders (HRDs) have faced unprecedented challenges in Asia, where existing risks were exacerbated, while new threats have emerged. Governments enacted and used repressive laws, online harassment became widespread, and Asian HRDs have seen their families and loved ones increasingly subjected to harassment and threats. The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly increased violations against defenders, and created new challenges for them to safely conduct their work.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and the Commission for Disappeared Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) presented a joint analysis, “Refusing Silence: A joint analysis on the situation of Human Rights Defenders”, as part of a collaboration in documenting cases of violations against human rights defenders in Asia, and particularly in Indonesia since 2020.


FORUM-ASIA documented as many as 18 categories of HRDs being victims of violations... As many as 205 cases were documented against land and environmental rights defenders. Corporations were the perpetrator of violations against this group of HRDs in an increasing number of cases, oftentimes in collusion with state actors... In 2019 and 2020, state actors remained the main perpetrator of harassment and attacks against HRDs... [N]on-state actors such as business actors and extremist groups were the perpetrators in a rising number of cases documented. Alarmingly, state and non-state actors oftentimes collude in committing violations against HRDs...

Based on monitoring done by KontraS in 2019, there were at least 157 cases of violations recorded against HRDs... The dominant perpetrators of these harassments were the police with 121 cases recorded, followed by the private sector (such as agribusiness corporations)... [T]he private sector is increasingly becoming perpetrators of violations against HRDs, and this is strongly connected to the government’s agenda of prioritising investments and business interests...