Journalists, scholars and human rights experts gather to stop human right abuses in SE Asia

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Categories Asia, IARJ conferences

Deputy Foreign Minister AM Fachir (back, seventh from left), and Royal Danish Special Representative for Freedom of Religion and Belief Ambassador Michael Suhr take part in a photo session. (Courtesy of SEJUK/-) Click on the photo to read the original story in The Jakarta Post.

NUSA DUA, BALI—The director of the Union of Journalists for Diversity (Sejuk) Ahmad Junaidi expressed concerns that the growing use of identity politics in countries in the region is leading to more violations of the rights of people of different religions and beliefs, ethnicity and political expressions. The electoral processes of countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, are contributing to the marginalization of minority groups as well as criminalizing journalists.

“The political regression in Southeast Asia is reflected by the increasing number of journalists being criminalized for their work. But at the same time we cannot deny that media reporting helps to stigmatize the minority groups,” said Alex Junaidi, who is also an editor at The Jakarta Post.

Working with the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) and the Institute for Peace and Democracy (part of the Udayana University in Bali), Sejuk brought in human rights experts, journalists and scholars from Southeast Asia, Timor Leste and Northeast India to participate in taking a stance against the threats of the use identity politics and authoritarianism that are trampling on the basic rights of people in a regional seminar and workshop.

“The Nexus between Freedom of Religion or Belief, and Freedom of Expression in Southeast Asia” seminar and workshop took place in Nusa Dua, a resort on Indonesia’s holiday island of Bali, March 18-20.

The goal was to strengthen the capacity of journalists and media in reporting religion in their countries to help reduce or even stop the widespread sectarian politics in the region.

“This event is a continuation of the international conference on religion journalism ‘Reporting Religion in Asia’ in Jakarta in October 2017,” Alex, who teaches journalism at Jakarta’s Tarumanegara University, said.

A news story about the event in The Jakarta Post began:

Southeast Asia is struggling to uphold democracy, facing challenges caused by identity politics, which limits freedom of expression and religious that could eventually lead to human rights violations.

“We are witnessing the politics of identity in extreme or even violent form,” Deputy Foreign Minister AM Fachir said in his keynote speech at the Nexus between Religious Freedom or Belief and Freedom of Expression in South East Asia seminar in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Monday.

At the seminar, which was organized by the Journalist Association for Diversity (SEJUK) in cooperation with the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) and the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), Fachir said rampant hoaxes and fake news, which were spread on social media, have worsened the situation.

“We need to act against [the situation] […] and action needs to be taken not just by the state, but also by civil society, including the media. The role of journalists is important to convey messages of peace, harmony and pluralism. So the key is to educate the public,” he said at the opening of the three-day event, which was attended by dozens of journalists, scholars and human rights experts from Southeast Asia, Timor-Leste and India.

Here is a link to read the entire Jakarta Post story, headlined: We’re witnessing identity politics in extreme, violent forms: Deputy foreign minister