Human Rights Watch has criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron for his statements about Indonesia’s democracy, saying he overrated it while neglecting reports of ongoing rights abuses.
Cameron praised Indonesia during his Jakarta visit earlier this month, saying Indonesia’s transition to democracy could be a model for other Muslim majority nations.
“The people of Indonesia can show through democracy there is an alternative to dictatorship and extremism. That here in the country with the biggest Muslim population on the planet, religion and democracy need not be in conflict,” he told students at Al-Azhar University in Jakarta on April 12.
“Following your example, young Muslims across the world will be inspired to choose democracy as their future,” he added.
HRW, however, issued a statement on Friday criticizing Cameron’s remarks, saying he “overstated” Indonesia’s democracy and disregarded “serious ongoing human rights violations” in the country.
“The Indonesian government has done little to stop increasing violence and discrimination by Islamist militant groups against religious minorities such as Ahmadis, Christians, and Shiite Muslims,” the group said.
“In Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces, Indonesian security forces are still not held fully accountable for rights violations against peaceful independence activists.”
HRW also expressed its concern with Cameron’s plan to lift a decade-old ban on exporting British military equipment to Indonesia. The group said it sent a letter, also on Friday, to the British prime minister over the criticism.
Cameron and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono witnessed the signing of a $2.5 billion deal between national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and Airbus in Jakarta during Cameron’s visit.
The two leaders also said they would try to double trade between their countries within three years.