Conservative cleric vice president candidate of Indonesia, abstentions rose

Tinuku - Indonesian President Joko Widodo chose an elderly Muslim cleric Ma'ruf Amin as vice presidential candidate for the 2019 presidential election to become a red record for human rights activists. The figure who actively strives to criminalize minorities and sexuality is seen as a way to reverse human rights enforcement.

Lokataru's director, Haris Azhar, is still campaigning not to elect the presidential and vice presidential candidates. The declaration of two candidate pairs, especially the choice by Joko Widodo to Ma'ruf Amin as vice president and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on Sandiaga Uno as vice president, strengthened the minds of human rights activists.

Tinuku Conservative cleric vice president candidate of Indonesia, abstentions rose

"It's still the same. In fact, it is increasingly proven. From a human rights perspective, all candidates are violators of human rights. So I think the four candidates are the same, not friendly to human rights, not friendly to the environment," said Azhar told to Deutsche Welle Indonesia.

Azhar does not encourage voters to abstentions. He instead campaigned for #CoblosSamping (Side Blotch) which encourages voters to nullify their own voices by not voting for boxes containing candidates' images which are the conditions for the ballot. The #CoblosSamping campaign is important to voice rejection of identity politics.

"The important thing is to show those who refuse to vote," Azhar said.

Azhar represented many groups who were disappointed in the choice of President Joko Widodo. The same was conveyed by Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch. Ma'ruf Amin has a "long reputation in human rights violations," the most vocal figure voicing the criminalization of minorities and sexually in Indonesian law.

"The abstentions will rise because voters, especially those with education, are not satisfied with the figure of Sandiaga Uno or Ma'ruf Amin. I think the possibility of abstention will increase," Harsono told Deutsche Welle Indonesia.

Ma'ruf was interviewed with a conservative daily, Rakyat Merdeka, in January 2018 voicing reparative therapy to 'cure' LGBT people. He also has a similar view regarding Shia, Ahmadiyya groups and the obligation to choose an Islamic leader who strengthens identity politics in the Jakarta 2017 Governor Election. Fatwas issued by Ma'ruf raise violence against minority groups.

"Amin's track record on a number of issues is sometimes at odds, such as in terms of religious minorities and sexual minorities," said Ricky Gunawan, Director of the Community Legal Aid Institute, told Deutsche Welle Indonesia.

"Civil society working in the field of human rights protection has a very heavy responsibility to protect whoever is elected. It is worrying if in the next five years the narrative of this government is dominated by conservatism and later in 2024 we will heavily twist political trends", said Gunawan.