Politics and Human Rights (Indonesian Experience 1998-2005)

by Nuwiya Amal

Asmara Nababan


Since 1998 the authoritarian regime of Soeharto, which had caused more than three decades of human rights violations or deprivations, has ceased to be. As with the experience of Latin America and  East European nations that have overturned authoritarian system, reform towards a more democratic system immediately started.

There are many human rights issues that have to be addressed, such as, but not limited to, impunity/the providing of sense Of justice to victims of past human right violations, the guarantee for the regard for and protection of human rights (civil and political rights as well as social, economic, and cultural rights) and the reform of various institutions that will enable the upholding of human rights.

The main issue that will be presented is the effect of political processes to human rights and vice versa since the fall of the authoritarian regime. The appropriate starting point of this discussion is Indonesia’s experience since 19991. Therefore, firstly there will be an elaboration on the various mappings on the protection and promotion of human rights in Indonesia. In this: part the various developments in the area of legal Instruments related to human rights, the various efforts aimed to provide justice for victims of past human right violations, and institutional reform. The next part will be a critical analysis on the various factors that would determine the progress or regress in the protection of human rights. Here the writer would attempt to give an assessment over the democracy process thus far and its impact on the protection and promotion of human rights. Lastly, the writer would try to formulate a synthesis on the relations Of politics and Human Rights in the context of Indonesia in post-authoritarian regime era.

Human Rights Condition in Indonesia Post- 1998

There are three significant issues to note in the discourse on the condition of human rights in the period of post-authoritarian regime. One, is the development of legislations related with human rights. This is a crucial point because in the period of authoritanan rule law would be draconian in nature and exist only to defend the interests of the power-holders. The Second issue is the institutional reform especially which concern with repressive institutions like TNI and the police. This is particularly important not merely because those institutions have been the dominant power but also to review how far coercive approach remains to be the paradigm. The third, concern with addressing justice in relation to past human rights violations. There are at least two urgencies for addressing this issue. First, is to repair the right of the victims and to provide them with justice. There has to be public recognition that victims have been victimized. The second is to recover the society’s trust to the government: to show that the present government is separated from the old regime and will take steps to affirm that the atrocities of the past regime will never happen again, and Impunity is not an option.


In general, the first five years after Soeharto’s resignation have been marked with the strengthening of normative guarantees of human rights. For resample, the post-new order government (executive-legislative) has issued Parliamentary Decree (TAP MPR) No. XVI/MPR/1998 on human rights. The decree serves as the foundation for various legislation processes for the betterment of human rights condition in Indonesia.

A number of draconian laws have been withdrawn or amended, such as the five laws on Politics and Political Parties, Anti-Subversion Law, Press Law, and the Constitution, which have been amended four times so far. In regards to the Constitution, the amendments did not only add the number of the clauses, but more importantly, substantially there is now more comprehensive acknowledgment on the universal norms of human rights within it. (2000). Various discriminative regulations have been withdrawn and two Human Right conventions have been ratified, namely Convention Against Torture (1998), and Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Dissemination (1999).

At lesser level there is the passing of Law on Human Rights No.39/1898 and Law on Human Rights Court No.26/2000. Law on Human Rights, although with some weaknesses, especially in the categorization of human nights, nevertheless provide stronger legal acknowledgement for the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and public participation in the promotion and protection of human rights (article 4 to article 100). Lastly, the passing of Press Law, which acknowledges freedom of press. Aside from the aforementioned instruments, there are also regulations issued for the protection of human rights, such as Law on The Elimination of Domestic Violence, Government Regulation No. 2/2002 on The Procedures for Victim and Witness Protection and Government Regulation on The Procedure for the Award of Compensation, Restitution and Rehabilitation”

However, the normative changes are largely only for civil rights. The social and economic rights have not been addressed. This is evident from the passing of Law on Water Resources, which provides the opportunity for privatization and thus increase the potential violations of economic rights of the people. Many city or town govenrment issue regional regulations that legitimize forced eviction upon poor settlement or informal workers. Aside from new regional regulations that are violating human rights, the old ones that are not in line with the standards of human rights protection and promotion have still been retained.

This is also the case at implementation stage, in which only rights concerning civil-political freedoms have advanced in its performance (quality) and scope. This can be seen with the increasing numbers of media, unions (such as farmers, laborers, informal workers, fisher persons) and political parties based on various ideologies. This situation is markedly different with Soeharto’s era, during which mass organizations had been under tight control of the government, especially through the strategy of state-corporatist organization (pewadahtunggalan).’ Mass Media enjoys more freedom since the withdrawal of press publication business permit (SIUPP) and the dissolution of Department of Information, an institution that attained immense power in Suharto’s era in determining the survival of a media. Aside from that two relatively open, fair, and direct general elections have been commenced thus far. Sensitive issues such as Indonesia’s military dual-function (dwi fungsi ABRI, military business, and even the sacredness of Constitution can be openly guestioned.

Although there have been bloody conflicts allegedly due to religious or ethnicity factors, our research and various reports have shown that the lack of respect upon other regions or ethnicities is not the main factor. More than 4 of DEMOS research’s informants who have been active in the area of democracy development have stated that the performance and scope of the right has been good. “If one explores further, the more determining factor in the conflict is the Involvement of repressive agents and elite powers.

It should also be noted that the betterment of performance in civil highs does not necessary imply the betterment in its scope. For Aceh and Papua for example, the rights have been repressed. It should also be clarified that the betterment of performance does not necessarily equal the maximum distribution, quality. and implementation of the rights. We are still witnessing pressures applied to mass media or members of the society by civilian militias that are supported by either political or capital powers. The attack against Jaw Post in Surabaya (by Baser) and Tempo magazine (by a group of people supported by Tommy Wingate in Jakarta are examples of attacks against freedom of press.

Meanwhile, the implementation of cither inherent rights such as right to be free of physical violence (torture, forced disappearance, and arbitrary detention), light to access to justice, and economic, social and cultural rights has been very limited. More than 4/5 of informants have stated that the institutions related with access to justice and independent judiciary are of poor performance. The condition of right of the child is not too different- not less than 7546 deliver the same opinion.”

The condition of freedom from physical violence can bee seen in Papua. Since 1999 there have been at least 18 cases of violation of that right, and following the incidence

inhere would be lack of proper investigation. This pattern of violence is also expenenced by farmers, indigenous people and urban poor communities.”

In regards to social-economic rights, Elsam, a civil society organization (CSO) active in the area of human rights, has shown that there are more than 190 forced eviction in several provinces, may it be against street peddlers, traditional markets, as well as the settlements of the poor Although thousands have lost their place to live, the evictions have been legalized. Industrial laborers work under worker-employer relationship that eases termination of employment (PHK). Farmers and fisher persons increasingly loose their right to land or other economic resources. As an illustration, on July 21, 2003 security apparatus from the Bulukumba Resort Police, of South Sulawesi and Mobile Brigade (Brimob) supported by The Regional Police attacked farmers who are the indigenous population of Kajang who were defending the ownership to their land.” Even In regards to education, although the Constitution (article 31 chapter 4 1945 Constitution) has determined that 2095 of the State Budget has to be attributed to education, the access to education has become increasingly difficult. Education has become a luxury. In 2004 there was only 3,4995 of the total Rp. 439,8 billion State Budget was attributed to education.’” On the other hand, the spending for the payment of foreign debt and its interest amounted to Rp.1341,2 billions in 2004, or three times of ten spending for education. Moreover, it is no longer a secret that many people die due to lack of access to basic health service. This has been affirmed by the informants of DEMOS’ research. In regards to right to work, welfare/social! guarantee, and heath, more than 4/5 informants deem the condition as bad.”

Institutional reform

Its no use to engage in a discourse on political reform in Indonesia without touching the subject of military and police institutional reform. This is because the Institution had been the determining factor in political life, including the progress or regress in human rights tution in the era of Soeharto. Reforming security and defense institutions, as well as the judiciary (both the courts and prosecutor office), is crucial because the institutions were involved deeply in various human right violations.

In retrospective, “security approach’ was simply another term for coercion. Threat to national security, both intimal and external, was usually understood as falling into the following categories: Marxism-communism, Religion extrernism, liberalism and separatist movement(such as in Aceh, Irian jaya and East Timor). To back up Tts guardian role, the armed force (at the time Angkatan Bersenjata Repubiik Indonesia or The Armed Forces of The Republic of Indonesia/hereafter cited as ARRI) has been vested ‘dual function”: defence and social functions. It provides the basis fits political (as much as economic and social) participation, as can be seen in their having ‘free’ substantial number of seats in the parliament.

The Institution to carried out this approach was Kookamitib, an acronym for Komando Pemulihan Keamanan dan Ketertiban (Command for the Restoration of Security and Order) which then replaced by Bakorstranas (Badan Koordinasi Stretagi Nasional/(Co-ordination Body for National Strategy). Supplementing the institution are huge official state intelligence apparatus who control the population such as BAIS (Armed Forces Strategic Intelligence Agency), Bakin (State Intelligence Co-coordinating Agency), Directorate General of Social and Political Affairs of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and Junior Attorney General. Their main objective is to carry Out four activities to benefit in aims of the state as a whole: repression, surveillance, ‘ecological correction and steering. In executing their work, the military leaned on army territorial commands as its political source of power. In such a setting the military operates without meaningful! political or judicial scrutiny. In this setting the police is considered as having this position as the junior partner of TNI.

Through MPR Decree (TAP MPR) No. VI/MPR/2000 on the separation of the Military (TN)I and the Police (Polri) and TAP MPR VII/MPR/2000, the reform of the two institutions was given legal grounds. The governments of Habibie and Abdurrahman Wahid initiated the reform of the institutions by separating TNI and The Police through Presidential Decrees. The National Strategy Coordinative Body (Bakorstranas) was Dissolved as well as The Unit of Social and Political! Staff (the political wing of TNI). The efforts to enshrine this in laws were realized in early 2002, with the passing of Law No. 2/2002 On the Police of the Republic of Indonesia and Law No.3/20C2 on National

Defense, after an intense process of political tug-of-war. This is because the two institutions’ refusal to give civilian forces the authority over the reform process within them. The Lawson Indonesia’s National Military as a derivation of Law on State Defence was only passed five years since reform had been initiated, through the passing of Law No. 34/2004.”

However, there remain many institutional problems that have not been resolved legally, especially in regards to intelligence institution and the territorial command structure as well as the military tribunal system. The implementation of normative separation between TNI and Polri has been problematic. Moreover, the capacity of police in handling conflicts is still weak. Deviating from the aspirations of the reform process, the number of TNI officials (whether active or not) within the government is still high. In the last presidential election, two former generals, namely Wiranto and Susilo Bambang W became presidential candidates. Both have been either suspected as being involved in past human right violations or have not been legally processed. At the end of the day, the cycle of impunity continues. Not more than a month a go, The Minister of Defense proposed a bill that tends to dissolve the separation between the function of defense and the function of security. This will! open again the opportunity for militarism to make a come back. More than 4/5 informants of DEMOS research have stated that the performance of democracy institutions in relation with military and police accountability in the elected government is bad.”

Meanwhile, the judiciary institutions have been undergoing structural change, namely with the determination of judiciary as an entity apart from in executive and by restoring the Supreme Court as the administrator of judiciary power. With this change it is expected that impartiality of judiciary would be more guaranteed. Yet the reform in the General Attorney’s Office has not reached that level. Structurally the General Attorney’s Office is still under the Executive. The structure is also still militaristic in character and full of corruption. The weakness of the General Attorney’s office was exceedingly apparent in their case management for the human right violations in East Timor.

Addressing justice

In this part of the paper I would like to explore the mechanisms of addressing the past atrocities committed by Suharto’s regime. I will firstly discuss the Human Right Court, how the idea evolved and how the political process in East Timor has hastened the process of its establishment. I would like to point out the potentials and the weaknesses of this mechanism. In the second part, I will address our national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which law has just been enacted on October 6, 2004. I would like to highlight the problem with the newly passed law, yet | would also like to address the fact that this mechanism may provide an opportunity to avail justice and reconciliation.

The need for a national mechanisms) to resolve egregious human right violations has been intensively sought several years before reform. The National Commission of Human Rights within the period of 1995-1998 had investigated cases of gross violations of human rights in Papua, East Timor and Aceh, and had expressed its discontent that after the investigation, the case would either be ignored or, the small numbers of which that were taken upon the court were adjudicated by the Military Tribunal. In this Tribunal, those who were indicted were foot soldiers, and they were sentenced lightly although the crimes indicted were serious crimes such as extra judicial killing, torture and disappearance. The mechanisms that later identified were grouped into legal and non-legal measures. The legal avenue is the Human Right Court established in 2000 and the non-legal avenues the newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Human rights court mechanism

It started with the sudden and surprising move of the President Habibie in 1999 offering a popular consultation in East Timor, to choose whether to stay with Indonesia or to separate itself from the state. As have been widely published repellent human rights violation occurred before, during and after the popular consultation, right in front of International presence in the region (UNAMET), which was there to assist the execution of the consultation. This created a situation where Indonesia was put under the international spotlight.

As the international pressure mounted the government requested KOMNAS HAM to establish an investigative team for what had occurred in East Timor in 1999. The Commission however, was reluctant to give in to the request due to its past experiences, mentioned above and demanded government’s commitment that the investigation would be flowed with due process of law.

After the GOI granted the assurance, less than 24 hours before the special session of UNHCHR was convened, Komnas HAM announced that it would establish an ad hoc

Inquiry commission on human right violation on East Timor. The GOI then materialized it into an emergency government regulation called Government Regulation Replacing the Law No. 11/1999 on “Human Rights Tribunal” which was enacted on October8, 1999.”

Thus it is clear that the initial propellant for the government to make a concrete move in establishing a legal! measure to deal with past atrocities was the looming threat of international intervention. The existence and non-existence of the threat, as the process progressed, would remain to be the determinant factor of the performance of the court.

In 2000, Law No.26 on Human Rights Court was passed. It consists of identifiable weaknesses such as, (1) imperfect incorporation of international law, namely The Rome Statute’? (2) incompatible used of the criminal procedure with the tribunal which is designed to process extraordinary crimes. For instance, in the criminal code the definition of admissible evidence is limited to 1) witness testimony 2) expert witness testimony 3) documents (limited to court dossiers, legal documents relevant the case, and written opinion of an expert)”. This became a justification to rule cut other forms of evidence such as witnesses providing testimony in discreet manner (usually conducted for protection of witness, which may be exercised in form of providing testimony in another place, distortion of voice, etc), video footage, radio interceptions, and others that would be very crucial in establishing the widespread and systematic nature of an extraordinary crime.

After KOMNAS HAM released its report on the atrocities in East Timer and handed it over to the Attorney General office, extra effort to provide justice for the victims went downhill. The tempus and locus of the crime was substantially decreased by the Presidential Decree KEPRES no. 96/2001 that established the Ad Hoc Human Right Court. In Addition the defendants indicted were decreased from the original recommended by the Commission. from more than 100 to 18. In the process of the trial the prosecutors seemed to deliberately sabotage the process by issuing low standard indictments and bringing over witnesses who were mostly testifying how responsible and good the defendants were.  The  fact  that  there  were  convictions  at  al  was  mostly because there were judges who had the courage to make some legal breakthroughs At present, except Eurico Guteres, the Commander of PPPI militia, the defendants were released. The case itself is at the stage of Supreme Court.”

The trend did not stop there. The subsequent attempts to hold human right court trails have been very poor. For the atrocities in 1998-kncwn as TSS (Trisakti and Semanggi Tragedy)- for example, the House of Representatives (DPR) made its own inquiry team. It reached the conclusion that there had not been any gross violation of human rights. this was a violation on the procedure of investigation as determined by the law?”

Retrospectively the National Commission of Human Rights had conducted the process Of inquiry on the case and submitted its report. In its report, it demonstrated that there were evidence of gross violation of human rights and recommended for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Human Right Court to prosecute the case. The legislative that has the authority to decide on the establishment of the court interfere inappropriately, by making a judicial decision mentioned earlier. The Attorney General” office makes use of the circumstance as an excuse to refuse conducting investigation. The case of Tanjung Priok and Abepura, for which Human Right Court trials were held, even exceeded the East Timor trials in their low standard performance?

Truth and reconciliation mechanism

As early as October 1598, KOMNAS HAM already proposed for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The proposal was presented in a three-parted meeting between the President, the Commission, and the Military, in which the Military rejected the idea. The proposal was also rejected decisively even during the establishment and the process of establishment of Human Right Court and strong effort and campaign by the civil society for TRC.

This is because the weak nesses of legal measures would be realized. Legal measures, as have been widely recognized, would be lengthy and due to the extensive numbers of atrocities and perpetrators, would not be able to address all of them. Also, while trials will uncover the factual truth, it will not address the social truth and discover the overall pattern of violations that rampantly has occurred in the nation during Soeharto’s regime and even beforehand. It would also be difficult to bring long-past violations to the court due to the diminishing physical evidence, distortion of memory of witnesses, or even death of perpetrators.

However, it had never been the intention of the people who campaigned for the establishment of TRC to make it as a substitute to the legal measures. The concept was as Alan Tieger pointed out, for the legal and non-legal measures to complement one another, and by the truth of both the nation can heal its wounds and move forward, knowing and learning from its history?

In year 2000, Indonesia’s People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) finally issued a decree, TAP MPR No. V/2000, assigning the government to establish TRC. The process afterwards was sluggish, since, as already pointed out earlier, it was not really in the government’s agenda to settle past violations of human rights. The Law to establish TRC (Law no. 27/2004) was only passed in 2004, in the eve of Megawati’s regime. It was not something that caused celebration amongst the victims, however, because the text of the law  in  appearance  sides  to  the  perpetrators“.  Before addressing the  major weakness of the law, it should be pointed out that the definition of gross human right violations followed the definition in Law no. 26/2000, dismissing the need to resolve other forms of gross human right violations such as eviction, and involuntary displacement, which victims have amounted to millions. This is clearly very far from the vision formed in the national consultation in Surabaya, which aimed for the resolution of not only the violation of civil and political rights but also economic, social and cultural.

The law started by creating a confusion between TRC and KOMNAS”HAMin terms of who should be the one to determine whether or not an atrocity has occurred. It was to work for five years with two years extension if necessary, and to investigate all atrocities retroactively since the enactment of Law no. 26/2000 with no determined tempus limitation. This implies that it covers the period of between the Indonesia’s Independence in 1945 and 20002, making it the most ambitious truth and reconciliation commission project after South Africa, creating questions as to how it would manage to do so. However, the worst problems in the text of the law are: 1) that the truth and reconciliation commission is a substitute to Human Right Court?” and 2) that victims can be granted compensation and rehabilitation only when the perpetrators are granted amnesty

This makes TRC not as a means for the nation to discover the truth about its history and the victims’ pain to be recognized but as the bowl for the perpetrators to wash their hands clean. It also humbled the victims’ position, as retribution is confused with the inherent, separate, and independent right of the victims to compensation and rehabilitation. It also casts a shadow over Indonesia’s legal order, for if this is what we do to provide justice for the victims- by ensuring a mechanism for amnesty for the perpetrators, not only the trust in law will not grow, it will give a chance for atrocities to happen again. Thus the function of deterrence of transitional justice mechanisms will not be served.

Democracy and HRs

From the elaboration above we can find that on one hand the inherent rights related to civil and political freedom- specifically the freedom of expression, is relatively more guaranteed. Simultaneously with that the post-Soeharto political system is more open. On the other hand, other inherent rights relating with physical integrity, such as freedom

From torture, forced disappearance, or arbitrary killing remain to be violated, especially in conflict areas. It is also the case with the rights relating with access to justice and social, economic and cultural rights. In Roosevelt parameter, there are only two freedoms that are relatively well implemented in the past five years, namely right to religion and expression, whereas freedom from fear and want remain to be neglected. it is also the case with the access to justice, especially in regards to past gross human night violations and the violations of social and economic rights.

The existing freedoms indeed provide a bigger room for civil society to work for human right violations Many educations —campaigns -advocacies on human rights have been commenced. Yet this reality also shows that the argument “by respecting and guaranteeing civil and political rights [only] the people would have the power to control and manage the State” is incorrect. Indonesia’s experience for the past five years negates that argument.

The brief picture above also shows that the betterment in the acknowledgement of and guarantee for human rights is not complemented with the same development with the implementation. The change of policies, may it be in form of withdrawing or reviewing draconian rules or introducing new regulations, does not automatically better the performance of human rights. This is also the case with the establishment of the implementation institutions. Although justice is subjective, influenced with various Ideological interests or the social position of community groups, institutions aimed to attain justice in the sense of to right the wrong especially in light of horrific atrocities have been failures. What can be seen from the development thus far is that both TRC (in the form of the legislation) and Human Right Court have been used for, it would seem, the release of past perpetrators.

Lastly, it shows that militarism still dominates political and economic lives. Militarism has developed with many faces. The forms apparent at the moment are thug-ism and militia groups. Although the character of violence and the locations of their activities are not the same, namely in various power centres may it be at the executive government, legislative or business. There are many factors that determine the progress or regress of human rights. We have indicated these four factors:

a. biased regards on human rights and prioritization of nationalism of human rights

b. democracy deficit and its monopolization of dominant actors

c. the law competence of law enforcement institutions (East Timor case)

d. International community

Ad. A. The myth of ‘nationalism’

Human rights are regarded by various parties, especially those of military and religious fundamentalists, as a “western” construction that is against Indonesia’s culture. The promotion of human rights is considered as the incorporation of “western” interest in Indonesia. From experiences in giving education on human rights in the circle of military officials, it is apparent that such view is still strongly held. Such views then would be mixed with nationalism.

It is an undeniable fact that most nations, including those of the West, often adopt double standards. They would criticize the practices of other States while the human rights of their own citizens would remain unheeded. One can see this from the experience of indigenous people in North America and Australia, whose rights have been acknowledged not too long a go. The apartheid regime, which lasted until 1994 was a true form of Western colonization, and it survived until the end of the 20” century. A more recent example would be the many states wno tum a blind eye over the impact of business communities domiciling in their states upon the society of the other States where they operate. This is evident from the practices of multinational/transnational Companies that destroy heritage’/cultural land, exploit cheap labour, or limiting the access of the community to water by setting unaffordable price of water. In Indonesia this has occurred since at least 1995 when Freeport started to operate in the country, until 2004 in Buyat, Kalimantan. In the last case, there is a strong indication that the company has polluted the portion of the sea where the local community is deriving their income from.

The hypocritical attitude and the strength of Western model of law is one issue. However, to think that human rights cannot be applied in the other side of the globe is to over-simplify the issue. There are many reasons for this. In this instance, that claim has been invalidated by the fact that many people, especially victims from all over the world, who might not even know each others existence, have rejected the inhumane treatments of the power that be against their human dignity. This is not always expressed by forming an organization such as Ikatan Orang Hilang which is more organized but also by individual stances by opposing such as treatments such as in the case of Marsinah. It is valid to say that such judgment is myth developed by the tyrannies in order to stay in power.

Ad.b. Democracy Deficit and The Monopoly of Democracy Institutions by Dominant Actors

 The gaps in human rights, mayit be in the comprehension of civil and political rights as well as social, economic, and cultural rights, or the norms and implementation of human rights, because there is no framework strong enough to make it possible for the rights to be disseminated. Authoritarian system is clearly not the option- not only because it is not by definition contradictive with human rights but because the experience of the era of Soeharto has proven so. This is also the case with integralistic State or Monarchy. However the democracy that has been chosen by Indonesia after the era of Soeharto as the system of life is still in deficit.

In the perspective of human rights based democracy”, the research conducted by Demos on “The Problems and Options of Indonesia Democratisation has shown that there is a democratic deficit of rights and institutions, Although the institutions and rights of democracy have developed in Indonesia, especially those related to basic freedoms, yet the conditions of those institutions and rights that are related with rule of law, civilian Control over military, good governance, representation, and social and economic rights is still in a bad shape. Five rights and institutions considered as having the worst performance are: subordination of govt. and public officials to the rule of law, equal and secure access to justice and independent courts, parties reflection of vital issues and interest of the people, party-independence of money politics, and government’s freedom from and struggle against militias and mafias. These discrepancy increased since 1999.” The widening gaps particularly serious with regard to the major instruments for improving the deficiencies in democratic ways, i.e. representation. The danger of this is that it paves the way for top-down non democratic solutions or anarchist.

This threat is real and evident in the past general election, when there were widespread arguments that Indonesia should be lead by a “strong leadership” which usually aim at military personnel. In fact, a party explicitly argue the need to have a regime like Soeharto era. On the other event we witness local community burned attorney office and the court as a protest of the verdict over a priest who were indicted of because of his critics to the Mayor in Flores who conducted corruption. Another example is the strike of all the schools in Kampar, because of the dismissal of a teacher by the Head of Regency because the teacher criticized the small budget for education.

The promotion of human rights standards and practices should take into account the institutions to realize the rights. This is precisely because human rights are not merely norms/values — it requires substantial democracy to enable its enforcement. Lack of enforcement would create frustration between the society and bring about they taking ‘by pass’ path in obtaining their rights. On the other hand it allows, as will be explain below, the route to democracy be controlled and abused by old dominant actors who have not the interests to promote democracy.

As shown by Demos’ research, the existing democratic rights and institutions have been monopolized and hijacked by dominant actors. They have adjusted to the rules of the democratic game, but more as consumers, they would abuse them in order to obtain their interests. The picture of the human right conditions as elaborated above has shown the decreasing quality of human rights is due to the persistent influence of the past dominant power. The establishment of the court was mainly to please the International world so that intervention — in form of the establishment of an international ad hoc tribunal — will be considered unnecessary. It was not initiated because the Government (executive and legislative in general) troubled with the rights of the victims of past and future gross violations of human rights. This was made worse by the fact that, contrary to the opinion of many, the new regime failed to make a clean break with the old, a prerequisite to a successful exercise of transitional justice.

Moreover, the dominant actors are not only the executive organs/the incumbent but also the repressive agent (military apparatus, militia) and politicians who monopolised democratic instruments. The extent of the power can be seen from practices such as the use of thugs to counter demands from the society, the reluctant of the Armed Forces to disband territorial military structure, and the survival of “black conglomerates”- corruptors who remain to be above the law. Thus this means the balance between justice, stability, and reform is determined by the dominant groups, for whom justice is not an interest.

The above situation can be seen in how the regimes after Soeharto were entangled in the effort to ensure stability, something that for long time has been in the hands of TNI. Golkar, the party of the past regime, remained to the one of the strongest parties in Indonesia, creating a parliament that is unfriendly to the efforts of settling past Injustices and promoting all human rights. This was especially evident in the impeachment of the then-president Abdurrahman Wahid and the subsequent reign of Megawati’s regime. It was apparent that the impeachment was because of the desire of the majority of the parliament to stop bold moves made by President Wahid and that Megawati spent her presidency bargaining stability for impunity, especially for military officials.

c. The Low Competence of Law Enforcement Institutions

Although there have been structural changes in the judiciary system, the competence of the Institution is still very weak. This is because of the strong patriarchal ideology still persists in influencing the perspective and behavior of the bureaucrats in the government and judiciary in Indonesia.” As the result there is tolerance for each others mistakes and subsequently there is no accountability for the performance of their work. Aside from that, the influence of the old dominant powers instead of democratic groups in judiciary Institutions has caused the lack of Independence in the performance Of the judiciary. Up until now the corruption of cases involving tycoons or within the military (TNI) as well as human right cases have been very hard to be addressed.

Ad. d. International Condition

In retrospective, the political openness in Indonesia has been initiated since the early 1990’s, when there was a major shift in the global political constellation due to the end of cold war. That development has impacted the domestic situation in Indonesia. The discourse that put human rights as second to development started to deteriorate. This is also the case with the human right court. The passing of the law and the process of trials for some human rights violation cases has been initiated more or less due to the fear of the involvement of international court. Aside from that, it is undeniable that the pressure from international economic powers such as the Word Bank, IMF, TNC’s, MNC’s and developed states have influenced the development of legislations in co law, which has been strongly influenced by market economy ideas and concepts, such as the Law on Water Resources.

In other words, the development and pressure from international actors also determine the changes at domestic level. Thus it is important for the international community to support the agendas developed by the democracy and human rights movements in Indonesia.


It is clear that the quality of democratic and political framework is very important in ensuring effective protection and promotion of human rights. When the democracy in Indonesia is still in deficit as apparent in the research of DEMOS as elaborated above, then the effective promotion and protection of human rights will be difficult to achieve. The early conclusion of this research has concluded the following:

  1. There are critical basic freedoms, but a severe democratic deficit of other democratic rights and institutions, including people’s identification with the national and regional demos.
  2. There are indeed free and fair elections, but only of unrepresentative and unresponsive parties and politicians.
  3. The dominant members of elite tend to adjust to the new game of democracy, but monopolise it, bending and abusing the rules of the game as they go
  4. The agents of change that brought democracy to Indonesia are still critical as civic activists and pressure groups, but are ‘floating’ in the margins of the fledgling democratic system, thus being unable to make real impact.

The patch up of democratic institutions, although necessary, is not enough. This is because the authoritarian regime was in power for 32 years, and it has destroyed the basis of democracy in the society. The reparation of democracy (meaning to expand and

intensify the process) should be focused on the level of representation. Aside from that the persistence of democratic actors to adopt a more major role in the political community will significantly repair and either the power relations. The oligarchic power ‘relation-as what exists presently- is proven to be the biggest hindrance far substantial democracy to work. With the alteration of the power relations there will be a better political framework to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights, especially in regards to economic, social, and cultural rights.


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