INDONESIA: JUSTICE FOR 12 PEOPLE TORTURED BASED ON THEIR PRESUMED GENDER IDENTITY
The North Aceh Police Force in Indonesia arbitrarily arrested, humiliated, and tortured 12 people they assumed to be transgender women. The individuals remain deeply traumatized, some lost their jobs, and others were forced to flee due to safety concerns.
PLEASE CONTACT THE AUTHORITIES IMMEDIATELY, URGING THEM TO:
ensure that an independent, impartial and efficient investigation is carried out in addition to the internal one, that the report is made public, and that perpetrators are brought to justice;
provide full reparations to all victims, as well as effective protection to them and their family members from threats to their lives and safety, both from members of the local police and local people; and
respect Indonesia's international human rights obligations and prevent, investigate and eliminate transphobia, gender-based violence, and criminalization of individuals due to their gender expression, identity, and/or sexual orientation.
On January 27, 2018, the North Aceh Police Force in Aceh Province raided five beauty salons, a common workplace for transgender women in Indonesia, and arrested 12 people they perceived to be transgender women. The Chief of Police brought the individuals to his office and ordered them to squat-walk in a humiliating fashion to a nearby park. When one person refused the order, the police chief fired a warning shot to scare her.
The police then subjected them to “punishments” by forcing them to roll on the ground in the park and by cutting their hair, apparently to make them “manlier.” Shouting at them and kicking their backs while giving instructions, the police forced them to take off their clothes, leaving them half-naked. The Chief of the North Aceh Police Force ordered them to shout “like a man” and slapped one of the victims on the face with a sandal. After humiliating them for two hours in front of people who had gathered at the park, the police took the twelve people back to the police station and forced them to sleep on the cold floor in their wet shorts without mattresses.
Before being released without charge on the afternoon of the January 28, the police invited a Muslim cleric to give a sermon for the victims. The cleric told them that because of “the nature of a transgender person,” it is fine “to kill transgender or other LGBTI people” and that “they are more evil than a kafir (infidel).” The police also made all 12 people sign a document which they were not allowed to read that was later confirmed as an agreement not to act like “women” and not to complain about any police misconduct. The public humiliation by officials, the physical abuse and threats, and the traumatic effect it has had on the victims by attacking their gender expression and identity, leads Amnesty International to believe their ill-treatment amounted to torture.
All the victims remain deeply traumatized after the incident and some are no longer able to support their families after losing their jobs. Due to threats by neighbours and family, and at least one act of violence, some of the victims have fled from Aceh.
Same-sex relations are criminalized under Shari’a law in Aceh, but are not criminalized under Indonesia’s Criminal Code. This, however, could change, as Indonesian lawmakers are currently debating whether to criminalize same-sex relations.
+ Additional information
The targeting of LGBTI individuals and groups in Aceh Province is not uncommon. On December 17, 2017, a hotel in Aceh was raided and six transgender women were handed over to the police after information was received that a transgender beauty contest was taking place there, an act they claim to violate Shari’a law. Two men were each publicly caned 83 times for consensual same-sex sexual relations (liwath) under the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code in May 2017. Although Shari’a bylaws have been in force in Aceh since the enactment of the province’s Special Autonomy Law in 2001, and are enforced by Islamic courts, this was the first time that gay men had been caned under Shari’a law in the province.
LGBTI groups face persecution throughout Indonesia. On May 25, 2017, 141 men were arrested in North Jakarta by local police after attending what police described as a “gay sex party.” The next day the police released 126 of the men, but charged 10 of them with providing “pornography services” under Law No 44/2008 on Pornography.
Many people in the country are also at particular risk of persecution across the country, regardless of whether the area is under the effective control of Pro-Government Forces or Anti-Government Elements. In areas under the control of the government, State agents routinely perpetrate human rights violations. Pro-government armed groups are responsible for abuses such as deliberate killings, assault, extortion and intimidation. In regions in which Anti-Government Elements are in control, human rights violations are widespread. These include extrajudicial executions, torture and ill-treatment, as well as denials of the rights to free movement, freedom of expression, political participation, and access to education and the right to health care. Moreover, both sides of the conflict perpetrate human rights violations in areas outside their respective control.
These acts of discrimination and violence are part of broad and growing anti-LGBTI sentiments in Aceh and throughout Indonesia, and is consistent with a broader crackdown on LGBTI communities around the world.
NEWS: Indonesia: Police arrests and attempts to ‘re-educate’ transgender people must end.
ARTICLE: Indonesia: Police must protect - not attack - transgender women living under threat in Aceh.