Indonesia’s presidential elections, human rights and Australian foreign policy

An audio recording from the Sydney event (mp3) is now available.

1pm Tuesday 13 May in Melbourne | 6pm Wednesday 14 May Sydney

This year Indonesia will elect a new President. What will it mean for Australia’s controversial asylum seeker policies? What will it mean for human rights in West Papua? Will the new President be a former war criminal or populist reformer? How will Australia’s foreign policy towards our northern neighbour need to change?

Join us in Sydney or Melbourne to discuss these topics and more with our panel of experts including our special international guest, Rafendi Djamin, a leading Indonesian human rights advocate and Indonesia’s Representative for the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

Rafendi Djamin, Indonesia’s Representative for the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.
Elaine Pearson, the Director of Human Rights Watch in Australia.
Dr Clinton Fernandes, Associate Professor in International and Political Studies at University New South Wales.

The discussion will be facilitated by Dr Vannessa Hearman a lecturer in Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney. Vannessa's research is in the area of history, particularly dealing with activism and social movements. Her doctoral thesis was on the 1965-68 anti-communist repression in East Java, Indonesia, which she completed at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne, where she was awarded the University of Melbourne Human Rights Scholarship.

Lights refreshments will be provided.

1pm Tuesday 13 May, Melbourne
King & Wood Mallesons, Level 50 Bourke Place, 600 Bourke Street

6pm Wednesday 14 May, Sydney
King & Wood Mallesons, Level 61, Governor Phillip Tower, 1 Farrer Place,

More about our panellists….

Rafendi Djamin

Rafendi is a human rights specialist and democracy expert. Alongside his advocacy responsibilities, Rafendi is Indonesia’s Representative for the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

He began his career with NGO and UN development projects in Indonesia in the early 1980s, before taking up a Master’s degree in development studies in the Netherlands. Since then, Rafendi's work has ranged from social work, to founding Indonesia’s Forum for Human Dignity, which continues to lobby government bodies in Indonesia and around the world on humanitarian issues.

He has worked as an independent evaluator of the Indonesian National Commission on Violence Against Women, in the government sector in the Netherlands, and as the coordinator of Campaign Against Impunity, a coalition of Indonesian NGOs in the Netherlands.

Since 2003, Rafendi has served as the coordinator of a national NGO coalition for International Advocacy (with more than 40 member organisations across archipelago) based in Jakarta. The core activities of this coalition are ensuring effectiveness of International human rights advocacy and strengthening the capacity of Indonesian human rights NGO. It also directly involves national media in advocacy on various current human rights issues and builds dialogue and engagement between Indonesian civil society and government sectors.

Elaine Pearson

Elaine is the Director of Human Rights Watch in Australia. Previously she was the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch Asia Division based in New York from 2007-2012.

Elaine has previously worked for the International Labour Organization, the UN Development Fund for Women, and led the first trafficking program at Anti-Slavery International in London after gaining degrees in arts and law from Australia’s Murdoch University, and a further Master’s degree from Princeton.

Human Rights Watch in Australia encourages the government to prioritise human rights in foreign policy, and Pearson also writes on continuing human rights issues in and around Australia. In her extensive writing on human rights issues, Elaine has highlights the need for Australia to stand up for human rights as a regional leader.

Recent writings:
Indonesia’s growing religious intolerance has to be addressed
'Strong ties' with Indonesia should mean ending human rights abuses

Speaking softly means Australia's voice will not be heard on human rights

Dr Clinton Fernandes

Clinton Fernandes is an Australian academic and former Australian Army officer. He’s an Associate Professor in the International and Political Studies program at the University of New South Wales and his research includes exploring notions of the ‘national interest’ in Australian foreign policy. He has written extensively on the role Australia has played in Indonesia’s history and political life, with particular focus on West Papua and East Timor. Other areas of research have included intelligence and strategy in South-East Asia.

As well as collaborating with renowned writer Noam Chomksy, Clinton worked as the Consultant Historian on Robert Connelly’s film on the Balibo Five.  Recently he attempted to have declassified secret archives that reveal the extent of Australia’s knowledge of human rights abuses occurring during Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor.

Clinton's work provides important insight into the relationship between Australia and its nearest and most influential neighbour, and the potential for human rights abuses to be overlooked.

Recent writings:
We can't afford to be ignorant on Indonesia
Dealing fairly with East Timor is not charity, but justice

Spying allegations bite


Thanks to King & Wood Mallesons for kindly hosting these events.