Unknown perpetrators launched multiple attacks against relatives of Indonesian human rights defender and lawyer Veronica Koman (see photo, source: Jubi). An explosive detonated outside Veronica Koman’s parents’ house in Jakarta on Sunday morning, 7 November 2021. Another of Koman’s relatives received a package on the same day containing a dead chicken and a letter stating, “anyone who helps to hide Veronica Koman will end up like this”. Previously, her parents’ house was the target of an arson attempt on 24 October 2021.
Police officers investigating the bomb attack found a threat letter at the site of the crime. The letter stated, “If the police and [security] forces in the country and abroad cannot arrest Veronica Koman … we were called to scorch-earth wherever you hide, including your protector horde,” According to the head of the Jakarta Police Criminal Investigation Department, Joko Dwi Harsono, the police have questioned five witnesses and are currently examining the explosive.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and various human rights organisations, including Amnesty International Indonesia, harshly condemned the attacks against Koman’s relatives. Komnas Perempuan also called for Koman’s parents’ protection through the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK).
Veronica Koman has been actively advocating for human rights in West Papua. She went into exile in Australia in 2019 after repeatedly receiving death threats and other forms of intimidation. In September 2019, the police summoned Veronica Koman for alleged violation of article 160 of the Indonesian Penal Code (KUHP) on incitement. The Surabaya police claim that she disseminated false information about the racist attack against Papuan students in the city of Surabaya.
Later, the police attempted to initiate an international prosecution through Interpol because Veronica Koman refused to return to Indonesia. In response to the attempted criminalisation, a panel of United Nations experts urged the Indonesian government to protect the rights of Veronica Koman as human rights defender.
In August 2020, the Indonesian Education Fund Management Institution (LPDP) demanded Veronica Koman reimburse the funds she received as part of a scholarship program for her studies abroad. Veronica Koman understood the claim as a new attempt by the Indonesian government to discourage her from advocacy activities on the human rights situation in West Papua.